Monroe’s Savannah Hastings is one of the better cross country runners in Wesco 4A. She qualified for the state meet last year and most likely will do so again this fall. She’s a team captain, good student and intends to go into the medical field after college. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe’s Savannah Hastings is one of the better cross country runners in Wesco 4A. She qualified for the state meet last year and most likely will do so again this fall. She’s a team captain, good student and intends to go into the medical field after college. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Five things to know about Monroe’s Savannah Hastings

The senior runner is thriving in her role as the Bearcats’ captain.

Savannah Hastings uses her intelligence in school. The Monroe senior carries a 3.8 grade-point average. She also uses it in her role as the Bearcats’ top cross country runner.

“She’s small, but very strong,” Monroe coach Lisa Woodard said. “She studies the sport and learns strategy. She runs smart. That’s her biggest strength. She’s learned how to really pick the sport apart. She’s learned the courses and understands her opponents. All of that has developed in her as she’s gotten more mature and wiser.”

Hastings finished 44th at the Class 4A state meet last year, and will aim for a better finish this season. She accomplished one of her other main goals — breaking 20 minutes in a 5,000-meter race — during Saturday’s Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational, finishing in 19 minutes, 56.1 seconds.

Here are five things to know about Hastings:

1. When she runs, her legs hurt. She’s been dealing with shin splints since her sophomore year. “It’s irritating,” she said. “I (apply) ice and massage (my legs) every night after practice, and there are stretches you can do to help. It’s bearable, but you just have to work around it. It took me a couple of seasons to figure out how to handle it.”

2. In school, her favorite subjects are … well, just about everything. “I’ve always liked school,” she said. “Math comes easy to me, and I find science fascinating. Right now I’m taking anatomy and physiology classes, and it’s interesting to see how all of the different systems work together, and I love to dissect stuff. And I’m really liking my advanced placement literature class. It’s not like a lecture, but more engaging. We’re reading ‘Nine Stories’ by J.D. Salinger right now.”

3. She’s a musician. Hastings, a proud member of the Monroe High School band, has played the saxophone for six years. “I’ve always had a great appreciation for music,” she said. “In my free time I’m always listening to music. I love the atmosphere of our high school band. There’s 108 of us, all different kinds of kids. The fact that we can all come together and make something we’re proud of is very cool.”

4. She’s interested in going into the medical field. “Ever since I was 5 I wanted to be a doctor, and that (interest) has grown with time,” she said. “My grandmother has multiple sclerosis, and for a long time I wanted to be neurologist to help find ways to help (the disease) be more manageable. I also thought about doing cancer research because a couple of years ago my (grandfather) died of cancer.”

5. She describes herself as a “positive person.” Hastings is relishing her role as team captain. “It took me a little while to get comfortable with that, and I really like it, because running is something I care about,” she said. “I try to be nice to everybody. My friends tease me; they tell me they’re so shocked to hear me say anything not positive. I try to be hard-working and do my best in school and train hard for running.”

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