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: Southern Conference photo | Southern Conference photo

Orono High School graduate Hannah Steelman, now a junior at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, captured her second straight Southern Conference cross country championship Saturday.

Steelman completed the 5-kilometer race hosted by East Tennessee State University of Johnson City, Tennessee, in 17 minutes, 2.08 seconds to edge runner-up Gabrielle Jennings of Furman by 3.81 seconds to earn SoCon Runner of the Year status for the second consecutive year.

Steelman previously was named the NCAA Division I Southern Conference’s runner of the month in both October and September while competing in her third year of cross country for the Terriers.

The October award came after she finished first in a field of 541 runners in the women’s 5K at the Royals Cross Country Challenge on Oct. 11 at Charlotte, North Carolina, with a SoCon-leading time for the distance this fall of 16:48.3.

That marked her second straight victory in that race and was her second top-three performance of the 2019 regular season after she placed third at the Virginia Invitational on Sept. 27.

Steelman returned to the trails this fall after a big outdoor track season last spring.

The 2017 Orono High School graduate finished fourth in both the 5,000-meter run and 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA East Regional, then placed third in the steeplechase and eighth at 5,000 meters to earn NCAA Division I All-America status in both events.

The 20-year-old Steelman lettered for four years in cross country and three seasons in track and field while at Orono High School and was part of three team state championships on the trails and three more team titles on the track.

She also captured three individual state championships in the 1,600-meter run and one state title at 3,200 meters for the Red Riots’ track program and was the Class C cross country state champion in 2014.

Steelman also was part of a state championship-winning 4×800-meter relay team while at Orono.

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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...