Hankerson returns with big season for track team

Marshall University women’s track team member Tianya Hankerson made a surprising return to the program this season.

The junior runner brought her son Noah Hankerson into the world in August of 2015 shortly after the 2015-16 school year started.

Hankerson took off the fall semester and returned in January, however, little did the Herd coaching staff know that she was coming back even better.

“I was worried about how long it was going to take to return to my usual self,” Hankerson said. “I just tried to remain positive and continued to push on.”

Before Hankerson became pregnant she was the Herd’s best 500-meter runner, earning the school record in the first indoor meet of the 2014 season.

Though the record has since been broken by freshman Elizabeth Paulina, Hankerson’s still a member of the current indoor and outdoor 1600-meter record relay teams.

“I honestly feel like I did great in fall of 2014, this season I have been giving my all, so that’s all that matters,” Hankerson said.

The Fruitland, Maryland native is set to graduate in the fall, a semester earlier than expected.

Hankerson said she has mixed feelings about graduating because she will miss her teammates and coaches, but she said she is happy she can be home with her pride and joy Noah.

This season, Hankerson is the second fastest 400-meter runner the Herd has with a time of 57.1 seconds, which earned her a spot back on the 1600-meter relay.

“Tianya has been the goat,” junior Kametra Byrd. “I doubted her at first, but after our first outdoor meet, I saw the potential.”

After graduation Hankerson plans on entering an occupational therapist assistant program and possibly continuing her education in pursuit of her master’s degree.

Hankerson has only three more track meets left in her college career, including the Conference USA Championships.

“I’m confident that our 1600-meter relay team will make All-Conference USA,” Hankerson said. “As for myself in an individual event, I’m not so sure.”

Hankerson is currently ranked 25th within Conference USA, and the 1600-meter relay team is ranked eighth.

The Herd will head to the conference championships May 12-15 at Middle Tennessee State University.

Danielle Wright can be contacted at [email protected]