A full schedule of academics coupled with daily track workouts and meets doesn’t leave freshman Lindsey Hall with time to do much else. But with her few hours of downtime each week, Hall likes to give back to the coach and program that helped make her one of Montana’s most touted young track and field stars.
Hall, 19, a Missoula native and 2009 Big Sky High School graduate, returns to her old school as a part time coach for her old track team. Time permitting, Hall makes the journey from the University of Montana back to the high school at least once a week, said Dan Nile, Big Sky head track coach.
“It’s always nice to have the good ones come back,” Nile said. “That’s a cool thing about our track program, she gets to give back.”
“Because it’s a little bit of a leadership role,” Hall said, “it’s made me grow up faster than I expected.”
Nile said some of the success of his hurdlers can be attributed to Hall. She’s a pretty experienced hurdler who is close to the kids in age, so her advice tends to really mean something to them, he said.
Hall’s high school résumé included Class AA state championships in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump.
Being a Missoula resident has made the transition to college competition smooth for Hall. She said her decision to stay close to home was based on her familiarity with the community and people in Missoula.
The comfortable situation has helped her perform well at Missoula meets, she said. Friends and family are always present at her events, giving her a little extra motivation.
“To have people following my track career still, it’s flattering,” Hall said. “I also see it as a big sign of respect. It’s been a big boost this spring that I hadn’t considered when signing (at Montana).”
Hall has channeled that positive energy into a fairly successful first year with the Griz, placing in the top five in multiple events at February’s Big Sky Conference indoor championship meet. Hall’s best finish, fourth place out of 12, came in the pentathlon, which includes the 55-meter hurdles, high and long jumps, the 800-meter run and shot put.
Building off that early success, Hall kicked off the outdoor track season with two wins April 4 at the first meet. Hall clobbered the competition by a half second in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing the line in 14.56 seconds, and came in first in the long jump by more than eight inches. Each performance qualified her for a spot in the Big Sky Conference championship later this spring.
The hurdles event has been Hall’s favorite for years now, she said. She used to be a small and uncoordinated distance runner and never stood out from the competition.
“She didn’t start out being dominant by any means,” Nile said. “She was a real skinny freshman, but had a great work ethic. She kept working hard and getting better and better which led to a lot of success.”
Hall’s dedication is tough to argue, considering her hours and hours of technique work with coaches and other hours spent in the gym. She doesn’t consider it work at all, though. In fact, it’s what she does for fun.
“I don’t know what I’d be doing with my time elsewise,” Hall said. “I just really enjoy my time on the track. I can view it as a job as far as hours go but I don’t see it as a burden because I do enjoy it.”
Her commitment to the sport hasn’t been lost on Montana coaches. Assistant track coach Adam Bork said her concentration is beyond that of most athletes her age.
“She’s one of the most focused freshmen I’ve ever coached,” said Bork, who coaches Hall in the high, long and triple jumps. “She’s starting to understand how good she is, which allows her to compete at a higher level at such a young age.”
Getting so much production from a freshman is great for the team, Bork said. It allows for a more consistent talent pool on the team. It also fuels the other Griz competitors who push each other to do the best they can, he said.
With nearly a dozen track meets left this spring, Hall should continue to improve, Bork said, adding that with three more years ahead of her, Hall’s Montana track career will be spectacular.
“First off, I expect her to qualify for Nationals in the next two weeks … in long and triple jump,” Bork said. “It’s definitely reachable. Before she leaves here, she should have probably five school records for sure. She wants to be a four-time conference champ as well as an All-American. She can be in the top eight in the country (in her events) every year.”