Monroe freshman Hannah Ganashamoorthy practices the hurdles on April 18, 2018, at Monroe High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe freshman Hannah Ganashamoorthy practices the hurdles on April 18, 2018, at Monroe High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe freshman phenom is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ athlete

Hannah Ganashamoorthy, 15, is already one of the top-ranked track-and-field athletes in the state.

MONROE — Hannah Ganashamoorthy’s record-shattering performances are impressive in their own right.

But the fact they came in March of her freshman season is nothing short of remarkable.

The career of Monroe High School’s ninth-grade phenom is barely underway, yet she already owns four school records and is one of the state’s top-ranked track and field athletes.

“She’s a once-in-a-lifetime athlete,” Bearcats track and field coach Brittany Kitts said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ganashamoorthy was ranked among the top 10 girls in the state this season in three different events, regardless of classification.

She ranked third in the long jump with a personal-best mark of 18 feet, 6 inches. She was seventh in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.01 seconds. And she was 10th in the 200 meters at 25.41 seconds.

Ganashamoorthy broke school records in all three events last month, and also tied the 100-meter record with a time of 12.58 seconds.

She is scheduled to compete in Saturday’s 30th annual Larry Eason Invitational at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish, where she has an opportunity to showcase her immense talent in one of the state’s premier high school track and field meets.

Monroe’s Kalea Funston (far right) prepares to hand off to Hannah Ganashamoorthy during a practice on April 18, 2018, at Monroe High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe’s Kalea Funston (far right) prepares to hand off to Hannah Ganashamoorthy during a practice on April 18, 2018, at Monroe High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“I’ve been blessed with a lot of really good athletes, but no one this young (and) this successful in any sport I’ve ever coached,” said Monroe jump coach Craig Bekins, the former longtime Cascade track and field coach who has spent more than 120 high school seasons coaching track, football, basketball and volleyball.

“As a ninth grader, I’ve never seen a kid (this) talented.”

Ganashamoorthy, a 15-year-old homeschool student whose father is from Sri Lanka, lives on a horse farm and has ridden horses nearly her entire life. She became interested in track and field after participating in a track camp seven years ago, and joined the Bellevue-based Speed Unlimited club team soon after. Her career took off from there.

“Track and field has become my passion,” she said. “It’s just pushed me to a level where I don’t think team sports would’ve been able to. It’s just awesome to see myself grow as a person and as an athlete.”

Ganashamoorthy qualified for the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships each of the past five years, highlighted by a third-place medal in the long jump in 2016. She also earned an eighth-place medal in the 100-meter hurdles last summer.

“Coming into this season, she essentially already had (beaten) several school records before she even touched foot on the track,” Kitts said. “She’s something special when it comes to that many events — being that amazing at them.”

Monroe hurdles coach Mark Bircher said he’d heard of Ganashamoorthy’s immense talent prior to the season, yet still was taken aback after watching her in person.

“When I actually saw her run for the first time, it was like a double-take,” Bircher said. “I knew she was good, but that first race was like, ‘Wow.’ She was as advertised, and even better.

“The skills that she came in with are incredible,” he added. “She’s like a seasoned veteran.”

Ganashamoorthy’s natural athleticism is evident in the graceful fluidity of her movements.

Monroe freshman Hannah Ganashamoorthy practices the long jump on April 18, 2018, at Monroe High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe freshman Hannah Ganashamoorthy practices the long jump on April 18, 2018, at Monroe High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“She’s one of the most gorgeous runners I’ve ever seen,” Kitts said. “She just has an incredible stride. She runs almost picture-perfect.”

Ganashamoorthy operates with technical precision, stemming from a tireless work ethic and attention to detail.

“She’s coaching herself all the time,” Bircher said. “Having someone independently driven like that is fantastic. If she’s not feeling it, she’ll literally have someone videotape her and she’ll self-assess herself. The fact that she can self-assess herself is amazing.”

Kitts said she marvels that, as talented as Ganashamoorthy already is, the freshman star still has ample room to grow and improve.

“When you can see someone like her and you can pick apart things she can still get good at, it’s just incredibly exciting,” Kitts said. “As she learns and adapts to this weird, adolescent growth period, she’s only going to get faster.”

Monroe’s coaches said they expect Ganashamoorthy’s times and marks to continue improving as the season progresses.

“We haven’t even had great weather yet,” Bircher said. “We get some good weather, and I think (her times and marks) are going to be just nuts. … The sky’s the limit for Hannah.”

“If she just takes care of herself and continues to be the person she is,” Bekins added, “she’ll be one of the best in track history in the state of Washington, in my mind. And I remember some pretty good ones.”

In addition to her elite talent, coaches raved about Ganashamoorthy’s character. They mentioned her humility, caring personality and willingness to help teammates in an unassuming manner.

“The best thing about Hannah is just how she treats the other kids,” Bircher said. “She cares and is compassionate (to) all the kids on this team.

“Everyone loves Hannah. She’s so nice to everyone. … There’s definitely a spirit about her that’s contagious.”

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