By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, with permission to use
EUGENE (14-Jul) — Back in March at the Texas Relays in Austin, Anna Hall of the University of Florida strung together an excellent set of marks and scored a world-leading 6412 points.
As the NCAA’s best heptathlete that wasn’t a surprise, but the result of her final event, the 800m, was. Hall, 21, who is here in Eugene to compete in her first World Athletics Championships heptathlon, clocked a swift, early-season 2:04.61. That mark was only 2/100ths of a second slower than the open 800m winner that day, Shafiqua Maloney of the University of Arkansas, and a time that would win almost any NCAA dual meet.
About six weeks later at the USATF Combined Events Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., Hall scored an even better 6458 points, and dropped her 800m time to an even faster 2:03.11. That mark made her the 12-fastest half-miler in the NCAA during the 2022 season despite the fact that she actually does very little running.
“I run three days a week,” Hall told reporters today at a press conference here. “Usually one of those is dedicated to, like, a 200-type workout, one is kind of a 400 workout, and one of those is solely an 800 workout. So, not too much running I would say.”
Since competing for Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo., Hall has leveraged her running ability to become a top multi-event athlete. As a high school senior she ran 2:11.02 at the Brooks PR Invitational, the nation’s #1 high school middle and long distance invitational. She got down to 2:07.91 in the 2021 indoor season (after NCAA competition was restarted after the 2020 COVID interruption), before her times fell to the 2:05’s, then 2:04’s and finally the 2:03’s in 2022. She said today it was all about training intensity.
“I don’t think (I run) a lot more than any other multis,” she said. “We just run really hard.”
Hall’s middle distance success has not given her serious pause to switch out of the pentathlon and heptathlon and focus solely on running. The multis are her home, she said.
“I guess I have considered before, maybe, switching out of multi, but I don’t think I’ll do that because the multis are just where my heart is,” she said. “Honestly, going forward I probably have the highest ceiling in the heptathlon than any other event. So, I think it would be a little short-sighted to kind of switch because the running is going so well right now.”
Here in Eugene, Hall is grateful to be on the team after missing out on the Tokyo Olympics last year. At the Olympic Trials here a year ago, she crashed out of the 100m hurdles, broke a navicular bone in her foot, and had to have surgery. She came back from that heart-breaking disaster to win the 2022 NCAA pentathlon and heptathlon titles for the Gators, and the open USATF title which qualified her for these World Athletics Championships.
“I was gutted,” Hall said. “I really wanted to be in Tokyo last year. This is what was motivating me through most of my rehab; I really wanted to be here for the first worlds at home. So, I’m just really excited that everything worked out.”
Like other collegiate athletes who end up competing into the summer, Hall has had to meter her energy to stay at a high level without getting injured or burned out. She said that she’s put her trust in her coaches, but also that she’s learned more about herself as an athlete, especially during the NCAA Championships here last month.
“It’s pretty much the same going to training,” she said of her build-up for these championships. She added: “I was a little bit more dialed-in (at NCAA’s), and a little bit better at managing my emotions and just keeping relaxed. I ended up me putting together a better first six events than I ever had. I definitely learned that and I’m hoping to take that into worlds.”
PHOTO: Anna Hall models her 2022 USATF national uniform (photo courtesy of USATF)