Allegan County News & Union Enterprise Sports

Antkoviak qualifies for U.S. Olympic trials

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

Have you ever dreamed of donning the red, white and blue and representing the United States in the Olympics?
Allegan native Hannah Antkoviak has. And later this month, she’ll head to Eugene, Ore., for the opportunity to make that dream a reality.
Antkoviak is one of 36 athletes who will complete in the 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials. The top three finishers will earn a place on the squad that will compete in the Paris Olympics in July.
“It’s crazy,” Antkoviak said of qualifying for the Olympic trials. “This was a goal that I had in the back of my mind and that my coach talked about. But if you would’ve told me a few years ago that I would be getting to go and compete in the trials, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“It’s such a blessing and I am so thankful that the Lord kept me healthy all year and gave me this opportunity.”
The automatic qualifying time for the women’s 400 hurdles was 56.20 seconds. That’s exactly the time Antkoviak—a 2021 Allegan High School graduate—hit while competing for Olivet Nazarene University at the Drake Relays in late April.
It took a while for the reality of the situation to fully sink in.
“I actually thought (the automatic qualifying standard) was faster, something like 55,” Antkoviak said. “So when another coach told me I had made it, I didn’t believe it at first.”
That time of 56.2 represented a personal record by more than half a second. Antkoviak ran a 56.71 at the NAIA Outdoor Championships in May 2023.
“I’d had a tough time earlier in the season when it came to hitting the times I was aiming for, and I was a little discouraged,” Antkoviak said. “I just felt like God was giving me exactly what I needed in that moment after so much striving and work and discouragement.
“For the auto qualifying time cutoff to be 56.20 and for that to be the time I got exactly on the nose was amazing. I was beyond thankful and excited.”
Antkoviak’s first-round race will take place Thursday, June 27 at 9:49 p.m. EST, with the top 16 times from all heats advancing to the semifinal round.
If Antkoviak advances to the semifinals, she will race Saturday, June 29, at 8:41 p.m. EST. The top nine times from the semifinals will then advance to the finals on Sunday, June 30, at 7:29 p.m. EST.
The top three finishers in the finals will earn their spots on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field team roster.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be broadcast live on the television channels CNBC, NBC, and USA. They will also be available to stream on Peacock.
Antkoviak plans to fly from Chicago to Oregon on Tuesday, June 25, before practicing on the track at the University of Oregon the following day.
Currently, Antkoviak is back in Allegan for summer break. And while she would normally head to the Allegan High School track for her training sessions, that’s not possible right now since the school’s track is being replaced.
That means Antkoviak has been shuttling between Plainwell High School and Hamilton High School for her workouts.
“It gets lonely, so I sometimes invite some of my track friends to work out with me or my high school coach will help time the workouts I can’t do on my own,” Antkoviak said. “And my college coach comes down a couple of times to run my 400 hurdles workouts with me.
“It’s kind of cool because I’m kind of alone, but also supported by so many people. I’m just trying to make the most of my workouts and really work on my speed and staying fast without losing too much endurance from the season.”
And while qualifying for the Olympic trials was the high point of Antkoviak’s junior season at ONU, it was far from the only memorable moment.
She also repeated as NAIA national champion in the 400 hurdles with her time of 58.23 at the NAIA Championships in May.
“It was exciting,” Antkoviak said of defending her national title. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I was actually a little disappointed with my time. I’m a big PR seeker, and that might be something I need to work on.
“Genuinely though, it was such a huge blessing to get to go do that the second year in a row and I’m super thankful for the health and all the lessons I learned getting to that point.”
Another highlight was the performance of the ONU 4×400 relay team.
After winning the at the NAIA Indoor Championships in March with a time of 3:45.23, Antkoviak and her teammates on the 4×400 relay were among the favorites at the Outdoor Championships.
But fate wasn’t kind to the ONU quartet, as they were forced to compete without their normal anchor leg.
“One of our girls coming off a stress fracture stepped up and ran the race with us,” Antkoviak said. “She had run like one 400 all season. And I was sick and had done something to my hip the day before, so we didn’t even think we’d make the final.”
Not only did Antkoviak and her teammates make the finals, but they also posted a time of 3:47.07 to place third.
“It was so awesome to see how everyone came together and the Lord provided, even though it looked pretty hopeless,” Antkoviak said. “I think it’s really cool to see how God works and to see how the team comes together in tough situations. Those are always the most memorable moments.”

4 Replies to “Antkoviak qualifies for U.S. Olympic trials

  1. Love you Hannah give it your best baby girl. God speed. He’s with you every step. Love Aunt Banana brain.

  2. Wishing you the best at the Olympic trials and in life in general we are all pulling for you good luck ps ran into your sister at the restaurant in town she’s your number 1 fan gave me your whole low down Steve Mele allegan mi

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