Hannah Steelman, a 2017 Orono High School graduate, crosses the finish line Saturday to win the Southern Conference women's cross country championship as a sophomore at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Credit: Courtesy of Southern Conference

Hannah Steelman developed her running stride as a youngster in part while participating in Orono’s summer track and field program.

She later starred at the high school level as a three-time state champion in the 1,600-meter run while also winning championships in the 3,200 as well as in cross-country at Orono High School.

The 2017 Orono High School graduate continues to stretch out her running talents as a sophomore at Division I Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where last weekend she won the Southern Conference women’s cross-country individual title.

Steelman won the 3.1-mile SoCon race held over a muddy course at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, by 15 seconds with a time of 17 minutes, 5.17 seconds to earn All-Southern Conference status and runner of the year honors.

She became the first Wofford runner to win an individual conference championship in cross country.

“I can’t say enough about Hannah,” Wofford cross country coach Johnny Bomar said. “She took off and dropped the hammer early, showing that her hard work this season paid off.”

Steelman has been named the SoCon women’s cross-country runner of the week earlier this season after she broke her own school record for the 5K distance with a time of 16:38.5 to finish second at the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Steelman went on to break that mark two weeks later with the fastest 5K time of the year for any Southern Conference women’s runner, Her clocking of 16:26 was good for first place among a 413-runner field at the Royals XC Challenge in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 12.

Steelman’s victory at the SoCon cross country championships came a year after she was named the 2017 SoCon freshman of the year in the sport after placing sixth at the conference meet.

Last winter she earned All-Southern Conference status in indoor track with a second-place finish at the conference championships in the 3,000 (9:58.41) and a third in the 5,000 (16:44.88) to go with a fourth in the mile (4:57.83).

Then last spring Steelman became the first Wofford College student-athlete to qualify for the NCAA Division I outdoor track and field championships, earning the achievement in both the steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run.

Steelman was named the 2017 Southern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Female Freshman of the Year after winning the steeplechase at the conference championships by nearly 16 seconds and also placing third in the 1,500.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...