Lady Hornets’ standout Hamm runs her way to Rio Grande

Published 9:37 pm Saturday, January 27, 2024

Coal Grove Lady Hornets standout cross country and track runner Laura Hamm signed a letter-of-intent with the University of Rio Grande RedStorm on Wednesday. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, brother Seth, father Scott, Laura and mother Katie; standing left to right, Coal Grove athletic director Shaun Smith, track coach Aaron Hankins, track coach Haley Shipley, cross country coach Jacob Pauley, Rio Grande head coach Matt Paxton and Rio Grande assistant coach Sierra Hoover. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

COAL GROVE — Running became contagious for Laura Hamm, but she didn’t want any antidote.

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The Coal Grove Lady Hornets senior record-setting distance runner didn’t begin running whiles was in her crib or playpen, but it wasn’t that far in the future.

“In the fourth grade (teacher) Tara Schneider started a running club. She got me started and I fell in love with it,” said Hamm.

“From there, me and my dad (Scott) took it up and got into it and then my brother (Seth) and it just took off.”

Coal Grove Lady Hornets Laura Hamm displays her a letter-of-intent with the University of Rio Grande RedStorm. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)

And all that running has allowed Hamm to cross the college recruiting finish line as she signed a letter-of-intent to run for the University of Rio Grande.

It wasn’t all running for Hamm who played softball when she was young and also played basketball her freshman season and softball in middle school before turning all her attention to distance running.

“I really enjoyed those other sports, but I felt I had a better chance to succeed and go to college  in tracj and cross country,” said Hamm.

That thinking proved to be prophetic as she got offers from Morehead State, Shawnee State, Northeastern Kentucky, Cedarville and a big offer from Marshall.

But Rio Grande was also on her radar and felt it was her best choice.

“I really felt like I hit it right there. My teammates and coaches were amazing,” said Hamm

“And it was far enough to be away from home but close enough that I could come back in an hour. And they really work with you to get your degree. It’s important that they take (education) seriously.”

First-year Rio Grande head coach Matt Paxton is very familiar with Hamm since he was the head coach at Unioto High School until accepting his new job.

“First of all, finding someone of her talent isn’t easy and she is one exceptional talent,” said Paxton. “But more than that, she is a hard worker and has great leadership abilities. We want to establish a culture and Laura is the type of person we feel can help do that. She’s a great person and a great student besides her athletic ability.”

With her college future settled, Hamm plans to focus on her senior track season.

“The rest of high school I want to make the state meet again and get another OVC championship. It’ll be our fifth in a row if we get it,” said Hamm.

“I have amazing teammates and we just need to work and keep getting records.”

Hamm holds several school records in track. Her 1600 meter time is 5:07, the 800 meter 2:19 and the 3200 meter 11:30.

Besides her distance races, Hamm has also ran on the 4×100, 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 relays at various times.

“I love the 800. It’s my favorite race. I just think the mile (1600) is where I’m the strongest,” she said.

Hamm plans to major in elementary education and she hopes to coach track and cross country.

“As long as I can I hope to come back and teach and coach here. I’d like for it to be here (Coal Grove) but if it’s somewhere else in the area that will be fine. I just want to help people,” said Hamm.