Mount Paran Christian’s Hannah Cantwell is hoping to study exercise science at the University of Georgia.

Hannah Cantwell said it was one of her favorite memories from competing in track and field at Mount Paran Christian.

As a member of one of the Lady Eagles’ two 4x100-meter relay teams to qualify for the state finals — when they finished 1-2 at the Class A private-school meet — it set off a celebration. The party only got bigger when they won the team state championship a little while later.

Not being able to defend the state championship due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with three straight area titles, hit Cantwell and her teammates hard.

“I was super sad (when they canceled the season),” she said. “The relay teams — our times were dropping. I thought we were going to be better.”

Cantwell also qualified for the state meet in the long jump. She holds the school record with a jump of 16 feet, 6½ inches and was hoping her senior season would have earned her a spot on the podium after finishing ninth as a junior.

“I was putting more time into the long jump,” Cantwell said. “It was something I wanted to prioritize.

Throughout her track career, Cantwell also ran the 100 dash and competed in the high jump and pole vault, but it was the relay which was her favorite event. Cantwell said she appreciated how long it took in order to get the team to run as one, and how frustrating it could be while trying to get the handoffs done correctly, but there was also a sense of accomplishment and success when the relay is done correctly.

Cantwell started in track and field in seventh grade, but she will not be continuing that career in college.

“I was recruited by some small colleges,” she said, “but I really wanted to go to UGA. I’m going to try out for the competition cheer team.”

Cantwell has been part of the Mount Paran competition cheerleading program, which has won eight straight state titles, which may give her a leg up.

“I don’t know,” she said of her prospects on cheering at Georgia. “I will have to try out against a lot of really good competition.”

While she is in Athens, Cantwell said she will likely study exercise science, with the hopes of becoming a physical therapist. She hopes to work with athletes an a member of a college athletic department or a professional sports organization.

“I see myself working with athletes,” she said.

As she leaves Mount Paran, Cantwell said she cannot believe the progress the track and field team made over her four years. The Lady Eagles went from not making state in her freshman season, to winning it all in her junior year, with what looked like an opportunity to do it again.

“We came full circle,” Cantwell said. “It was great for all of us.”

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