Top 5 Female Athletes 2015-16: No. 1 Gabby Hentemann

Nich Wolak • Aug 2, 2016 at 12:59 AM

The Tribune is counting down its top five teams, male and female athletes of the 2015-16 school year. The No. 1 female athlete on our list, Gabby Hentemann, became Grand Haven's top cross country and track runner as a freshman.


Hentemann finished 17th in Division 1 (18 minutes, 21 seconds), fourth-fastest freshman; Second in the O-K Red Conference (18:11), sixth fastest time in school history, third fastest for a freshman.

Coach Scott Przystas on what makes Hentemann such a strong runner: "It's her work ethic. Gabby puts a lot of work into everything she does. She has the talent there as well. She plans from June to November what she wants to accomplish. She’s very detail oriented in her workouts. I think she sets herself up for success by doing those things and is coachable in that sense. Cross country and running is not just running, it’s doing the small things after and outside practice, stretching, strengthening, nutrition. She’s done those things and become a student of the sport. She has a very high running IQ for a freshman.

"… She’s very knowledgeable about the sport; she seeks out other runners and asks them questions. She’s not one to shy away from going to the No. 2 runner in the state, and asking, 'How did you get there, and what did you do? She’s a student of the sport."

On Hentemann's instant impact as a freshman: "I don’t think we touched the surface with her abilities and talent in cross country — you saw that in track. She knew she was capable of doing that in the spring and she gained that confidence from the cross country season. … She’s knows what she’s capable of now. Even talking to her this summer about goals, she said ‘You know? I don’t think I tried as hard as I could have.' And she was one of the top three freshmen in the state. … She knows what she's capable of now."

On her future: "With running, there's no guarantees. There are no guarantees she makes it back to the state finals in cross country or track. It’s taking it one season at a time, keeping healthy, finding new limits. It’s having a plan, coming into the season (and) sticking to that plan. I think she understands that, taking it one season at a time.

"If we don’t reach the ceiling this season, then we’ll push a little higher — keeping her healthy in terms of nutrition and iron level. She knows what to do; she has big dreams beyond high school and college. The Olympic trials were here and she was geeked about that. The goal for our program is to keep them wanting to run beyond high school. Our goal for her is to be healthy and trained so she can have success at the next level."


Hentemann won the mile run at the West Michigan All-Star meet, setting the school freshman record with a time of 4:55; she also beat Melanie Helder in the 800-meter run at a dual meet against Hudsonville (2:16), which was also a school freshman record, Helder went on to finish third in the state and set the school freshman record in the 2-mile against Grandville (11:09).

Coach John Tarr on what makes Gabby such a strong runner: "It's her enthusiasm and her competitiveness. She’s got a ton of innate talent (too). ... She’s just a great kid."

On whether he was surprised Hentemann was able to make such an instant impact: "We knew when she was coming up from middle school that she was really good. You’re kind of surprised about it. … I was certainly surprised that she broke 5 minutes in the 1,600, that was amazing. If she ran the 200 , I think she’d be our best 200 runner (too). I was surprised, but there were some things I did expect."

On how good she can be: "We held her back on some things … and nevertheless, she set several freshman records and was all-conference and all-regional. She’s going to be a state champ one day, and I think she has the potential to be a D-1 runner. But she still has a lot of goals to accomplish in cross county and track. She’s a hard worker and she’s going to get there."

On her expressiveness when she competes: "You’ve got to really love this to be as good as she is. She’s enthusiastic. She does kind of have that Magic (Johnson) smile, she smiles when she races. ... In a lot of ways she has a carefree style, but she also does put stress s on herself. She’s getting better at that."


Best of the Rest

No. 2 Alli Keyser, Grand Haven

No. 3 Kayla Krueger, Spring Lake

No. 4 Hannah Kenny, Grand Haven

No. 5 Madelyn Nelson, Spring Lake

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