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Hard work and determination: The Corbin Hanson Story

Corbin Hansen running


Over the last four years, Corbin Hanson has gone from a relatively unknown athlete to one of the best UNK distance runners in recent history. In a sport like running where self-motivation, discipline and work ethic are so key, he found a way to keep pushing himself to get better each and every day.

The hard work that he put in paid off in 2018, qualifying for the NCAA Championship Cross Country Meet for the first time. In his first trip to the biggest stage in DII Cross Country, he placed 31st overall to become an All-American. It was the first time a Loper runner earned this honor since Al Sanabria in 2011 and only the second time in the last 24 years.

“Going from a runner that no one knew or heard of to becoming an All-American in Cross Country is something I will also never forget,” said Hanson.

He returned to NCAA Championships in 2019 after finishing 11th at the NCAA Central Regional. His effort to get a second All-American distinction fell short in his final cross-country race.

Besides being the team’s best runner, Hanson was also a leader off the course as well. In 2019 he was chosen as one of three captains for the cross-country team.

What made his rise into the UNK cross country record books even more incredible is the fact he never participated in the sport until getting to college.

Throughout his time at Sandy Creek High School he played on the football team during the fall. He did, however, run track and qualified for the state meet in Omaha, Ne three separate times from 2014 to 2016 in 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

At UNK, he is a part of the top ten list in track in three different events. For indoors, he ranks fifth all-time in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:39.64 and ninth all-time in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:33.83. In outdoors Hanson has the fourth-best steeplechase time in school history at 9:02.32.

Hanson was also a provisional qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run.

After finishing runner up at the MIAA Championships in the steeplechase in 2019, he was looking forward to challenging for the gold in 2020 and going for the school record in the event. The COVID-19 pandemic cut those dreams short.

“It was very disappointing,” Hanson said. “I had many goals that I believe I was going to accomplish. These goals included breaking the school record in the steeple, qualifying for nationals in the steeple, and hopefully becoming an All-American in that. Based on my indoor season, I believe that was truly attainable.”

The NCAA is granting student-athletes who missed out on spring sports another year of eligibility, but for many including Hanson it doesn’t work out to take advantage of that.

“I do not plan on returning to use the eligibility I was granted by the NCAA,” Hanson said. “I do not have any more classes that I could take without starting my Masters, and I don’t know what that would be. I also want to start my life after school and running.”

Even with the unprecedented end to his college athletic career, Hanson will be able to walk away from the sport with friends that will last a lifetime.

“Some of the best memories are definitely all the friends that I have made and the memories that will last a lifetime with the thousands of miles we have run together,” Hanson said. “I truly can’t thank Coach Bonsall and all my friends that have helped me along the way enough and how much they all mean to me.”

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