Hannah Foley is an extraordinary distance runner and junior at Boone High School in Orlando. An AAU Club champion this past summer with a 10:38 PR in the 3K, Foley has continued that success into the fall forming a solid duo with teammate Megan Dolan.
On Friday night at the JT Memorial XC Race hosted by Gateway High School at Austin Tindall Park in Kissimmee, Foley and Dolan went 1-2 together in the race running a pair of personal best times with Foley as the winner in 19:13 and Dolan as the runner-up in 19:14.
What the stat sheet or MileSplit athlete profile on Foley does not indicate is that she was born deaf. While the disability might encourage many to not participate in sports or other activities that require an interpreter or others around them to know sign language in order to communicate, Foley and her Boone teammates and coaches have embraced it.
Foley's inability to hear or speak has not slowed down her ability to run fast as witnessed on Friday night with her best race to date and first major cross country victory. Only a junior, Foley is just scratching the surface as she continues to train and build confidence in her ability in the sport.
She credits her grandfather in inspiring her to run as he was an Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon years ago and was on hand to watch her first cross country invitational victory this weekend.
In our post-race interview at the JT Memorial Race, which was a first for me in my 20 years veteran of covering the sport, her sign language interpreter helped be the one to pass the relay baton of communication between us in a very insightful and enjoyable interview with Foley as she got to share her thoughts and feelings on her monumental win.
She shared a big goal for the season's end to be top 15 at the FHSAA State Cross Country Finals to earn All-State honors, which she is certainly progressing in the right direction to achieve that feat as well as break 19 minutes for 5K.
Definitely more to come on this inspiring success story in Hannah Foley overcoming the obstacle of being deaf in becoming a fast high school distance runner as we closely track her progression from here.