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‘Six years of work comes down to this 100 meters right here.’ Heppner’s Hannah Finch caps career with come-from-behind victory in 2A girls 800

“Being a state champ is something that I’ve imagined ever since I started track back in sixth grade.”

By Dan Brood

Hannah Finch has been participating in track and field for about six years. 

She’s been wanting to win a state championship for, well, about six years. 

Finch, a Heppner senior, seemed to have a good chance to get that desired state title as she got ready to run in the finals of the 800-meter run at the Class 2A championships Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene. After all, she entered the race holding the fastest season time of the 12 runners in the event.

“Being a state champ is something that I’ve imagined ever since I started track back in sixth grade,” Finch said. “I came here today, knowing I could do it, but not exactly knowing how.”

How?

That turned out to be a heck of a good question.

As Finch had about 100 meters left in the race, the state title looked to maybe be out of reach — about 25 to 30 meters out of reach.

As the race was entering the homestretch, Finch trailed Santiam freshman Averie Peterson by about that margin.

“I was coming around the corner, and I was just thinking, ‘This is it — six years of work comes down to this 100 meters right here,’” Finch said. “Coming down the stretch, I was just thinking of my coach, Russ (Nichols). One thing he told me during my freshman year in cross country was to go out on a limb, and that’s something I think about every single race. I just have to take a chance and do it. So, I just gave it everything I had.” 

Hannah Finch 1 Dan Brood

Everything she had was a lot — and really fast.

Finch quickly made up ground on Peterson until it looked like that state championship was suddenly back within reach.

“Once I caught up to her, in the last 40 meters or so, I knew that I had it,” Finch said.

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She did.

Finch won the race in a personal-best time of 2 minutes, 24.52 seconds. Peterson was second at 2:25.29.

Hannah Finch 2 Dan Brood

“There were so many emotions,” Finch said of crossing the finish line in first place. “There was a little bit of sadness, because it was one of my last races in high school. But there was so much joy and relief. When I crossed the finish line, what was running through my mind was thinking of my coaches and teammates in the stands.”

Thinking of others — that seems to be a big thing for Finch.

“My coaches and teammates are the ones that really pushed me to do this, and they’re the people I have to thank for everything,” she said.

And, after finishing the race, Finch turned around and gave Peterson a hug.

Hannah Finch 4 Dan Brood

“One thing I really love about track is just how supportive everyone is, even my competitors,” Finch said. “Every time I go out there, I want the best for my competitors as well.”

The state championship was just part of a big state meet for Finch. 

She took second place in the Class 2A triple jump with a distance of 34 feet, 1.75 inches, putting her just three inches behind victorious Whitley Stepp of Regis.

In the 4x400 relay, Finch teamed with sophomore Arianna Worden, sophomore Irelynn Kollman and freshman Hallee Hisler to run to second place in 4:25.02.

The Heppner girls finished in seventh place in the team standings with 26 points.

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