South Lewis track and cross country standout Hannah Ielfield is going Division I. Ielfield verbally committed to the University of Mississippi this past weekend and will compete on their track and cross country teams. She’ll officially sign her letter of intent next week.
“It was very stressful to pick a college,” Ielfield said. “But then once I picked Ole Miss, I just knew it was the right pick.”
Accompanied by her mom and grandparents, the South Lewis senior was able to visit Ole Miss in February, prior to much of the country being locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The visit left a great impression on Ielfield.
“It was a really nice campus and I got to meet some of the girls and some of the coaches,” Ielfield said.
Ole Miss is located in Oxford, Mississippi and competes in the Southeastern Conference.
While Ole Miss was a favorite of hers, the decision to verbally commit to a college is always a difficult one.
“I kind of knew when I visited there that it’s where I wanted to be,” Ielfield said. “Then, it wasn’t a really hard decision but it wasn’t an easier decision for me either.”
At the varsity level, Ielfield and her South Lewis teammates had the opportunity to run only two cross country races this season, both against Beaver River, before of cluster of COVID-19 cases in Lewis County forced an abrupt ending to the Frontier League season.
However, Ielfield has competed in several club races. She competed out of state multiple times but most recently in the Rock Sports Fall XC Series in Middletown, where she placed fourth in the 2.6-mile run with a time of 15 minutes, 25.00 seconds.
At the varsity level, Ielfield has been a cog in the South Lewis girls cross country machine, which is a constant state title contender.
In the past three seasons, prior to 2020, she finished in the top 10, individually in the state championships. In 2017, South Lewis took first place in the state team championships.
Ielfield looks to continue winning at the college level. The Ole Miss women’s cross country team placed 21st in the NCAA Championships in 2019, Arkansas finished first. Arkansas has also won each of the last eight SEC women’s cross country championships.
After talking to some of her new teammates, Ielfield is excited to help the Rebels compete for a conference and national championship.
“I talked to the girls and they were all on board,” Ielfield said. “They were like ‘we have to make it to nationals,’ our goal is now to finish as high up in nationals as we can. That’s what I really liked about the girls, they are very committed in this sport and they just want to do better for them and the team.”
Hannah will join her older sister, Hali, as a Division I athlete. Hali, also a standout runner for South Lewis, is in her junior year at Manhattan College were she competes in cross country and track for the Jaspers.
Ielfield hopes to sign her National Letter of Intent on Nov. 12 — the second day Division I athletes, other than those competing in football or basketball, are allowed to sign — during an event at South Lewis at 6 p.m.