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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rivals turned roommates

    Arizona freshmen cross country runners Hanna Henson, left, and Hannah Moen are two of the top performers for the Wildcats this season. The two all-star high school athletes used to be rivals but now live together at the UA.
    Arizona freshmen cross country runners Hanna Henson, left, and Hannah Moen are two of the top performers for the Wildcats this season. The two all-star high school athletes used to be rivals but now live together at the UA.

    Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Hannah Moen and Hanna Henson.

    What do all of these have in common? They are all rivals who have become teammates. But the latter of the three stands out in particular as a true 180 in relationships.

    Both Moen and Henson, freshman runners for the UA cross country team, hail from Arizonaÿ- Moen from Flagstaff and Henson from Tucson.

    Both runners entered college with very impressive résumés. Moen was a six-time state champion during the track and field seasons at Coconino High School, the Arizona Daily Star named her the 2007 All-City Cross Country Runner of the Year and 2008 All-City Track and Field athlete of the year.

    Henson, who attended Rio Rico High School, was named the 2007 Daily Star Cross Country Runner of the Year, won the 2007 Arizona State Cross Country 4A-II Championship and was named Fox-11’s Game Time Athlete of the Week in November 2007. On top of all of that, she also earned a varsity letter in soccer.

    Moen and Henson did not compete often in high school but always met for the most important meet of the season, the state championship.

    “”We only raced at states but it was much bigger than that,”” Moen said. “”She was always my biggest and closest competitor.””

    In their final state championship last year, Moen finished the 5,000-meter race in 18:29, which was good for eighth place. But she was edged out by Henson, who finished in fifth place in 18:09.

    Even though the two only competed against each other once a season, each runner had the other in her crosshairs.

    “”There was a bit of a rivalry,”” Henson said. “”She sprung out of nowhere in high school and I knew she was going to be my closest contender for states. I always knew I was going have to watch out.””

    But even with such a strong rivalry in high school, the runners have moved on and have formed something much stronger in college: a great friendship. And not only are they both good friends, but they are also roommates.

    “”It’s kind of weird that we’re now teammates and roommates,”” Henson said. “”But during my senior year of track (in high school), once I heard she was looking at U of A and I knew I was going there, it was really exciting.””

    Even though Hannah and Hanna are no longer competing against each other, they note that there is still a bit of a friendly rivalry between them.

    “”We’re always competing friendly, but we’re always happy for each other when the other does well,”” Moen said.

    Added Henson: “”We keep each other in check. If she is racing better, I look at myself and ask why I’m not racing well.””

    When it comes to running, Hannah and Hanna are very similar. But when it comes to being roommates, that’s not the case.

    “”She’s very neat and organized, which helps me because I’m more on the messy side,”” Moen said. “”She’s quiet when doing homework. But because we’re different, we realized that we’re perfect roommates.””

    While they are both tough competitors and try their hardest to succeed in every aspect of life, they have nothing but the best to say about each other.

    “”She is so understanding,”” Henson said. “”She’s someone I can rely on and trust whether it’s with running or school.””

    Added Moen of Henson: “”She really works hard to do her best in school and during meets.””

    Henson has proven that she works very hard in both the classroom and with athletics, as she was named one of four student-athletes for the month of October by Arizona Athletics.

    “”It was a big honor,”” Henson said. “”Coming here, knowing it’s hard to do well both in school and running, made it that much more special.””

    On top of running on the same team and living in the same dorm room, Hannah and Hanna do pretty much everything else together.

    UA head coach James Li said their relationship is great for their running.

    “”Competing and running at this level, as well as going to school at the same time, is not an easy thing so they need support,”” Li said. “”Their friendship is very, very important and really crucial toward their success.””

    One of the best parts about their running, Li said, is how they are able to push each other to succeed.

    “”As athletes, you’re going to be competitive and want to be better,”” Li said. “”When someone is your teammate and roommate, you’re going to try to get to the same finish line as fast as possible. I think they definitely feel that they have the support and backing from each other. It’s good support and they help each other.””

    Senior teammate Shelly Splittberger said she has a similar viewpoint on how Hannah and Hanna push each other.

    “”They definitely keep each other on track,”” Splittberger said. “”They both feel that they can run with each other and that’s important because they want to be with each other and it gives more purpose to what they’re doing.””

    When asked what each other is like as a friend, both Hannah and Hanna compared the other to their best friend back home. But oddly enough, saying the same things is not an uncommon occurrence for the duo.

    “”We’re always saying the same things at the same time,”” Henson said. “”When that happens, we say, ‘It’s a Hannah thing.'””

    Henson knew right from the start that the two would be great friends.

    “”We didn’t really know each other at the beginning of the season. But one day, it was down pouring and we were running to the van after practice and she slipped and fell and, for some reason, I couldn’t stop laughing,”” Henson said. “”And the next thing I knew, I was on the ground with her. That was the moment we knew we were going to be great friends.””

    From a running standpoint, both Hannah and Hanna have been performing very well this season and have finished among the top-five Wildcat runners in many of the races this season.

    Henson’s personal best time in the 5,000-meter run is 18:09, versus Moen’s personal best time of 17:38.

    “”They’re going to be a huge part of our future,”” Splittberger said. “”They’re going to be expected to be the leaders. … They are definitely a part of building the future.””

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