DENTON - This past May, Hannah Cranford decided to stop playing AAU basketball to focus on her running. Her events are the 800, 1600 and sometimes the 3200. It may turn out to be the best decision of her young athletic career. Many colleges recruited Cranford. She has decided to run for Campbell University this fall.
Cranford’s original love was basketball. She started playing basketball in kindergarten, and began participating in AAU ball in the fourth grade. Cranford has played varsity basketball all four years at South Davidson High School (SDHS), and she reached a career milestone by scoring her 1000th point against West Montgomery in early December 2017.
When asked about her athletics success, Cranford responded, “You always need to set goals, work hard and push yourself to get where you want to be.”
Some of Cranford’s athletic mentors and role models include: her middle school coach Roxanna Smith, her current basketball coach Kim Frizzell, and her track coach Jordan Morris. She is also quick to point out that Cameron Smith, a family friend, also worked with her endless hours to help improve her basketball fundamentals. Cranford also noted that she looks up to Larson Sigmon, who also scored over 1000 points in her career at SDHS.
Cranford expressed that her fondest sports memory was during her sophomore year playing basketball at SDHS.
“We played Cherokee in the 3rd round of the state playoffs, and most people didn’t believe we had a chance to win,” said Cranford. “It was a very physical game and the fans were going crazy. We won that game and it was special."
Cranford added that her selection to all-state in track her sophomore year, and winning North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A All-State honors in cross country last school year, are also two wonderful memories. She came up short her first two years and consequently set a goal to make it her junior year. Not only did she have to overcome her competitors, but she also had to battle through the horrible weather conditions during the cross county state meet that would determine the all-state team.
When asked, Cranford spoke affectionately about her family.
“I am eternally indebted to my mom and dad for getting me to practices and games, said Cranford. “My mom has never missed a game or meet.”
Coach Frizzell provided her thoughts about Cranford and what she has meant to the SDHS basketball program.“The basketball program will not only be losing a point guard and a scorer, but, most importantly, a leader, said Frizzell. “Hannah has a quiet personality, which makes it difficult for her to speak out. But I’m hearing her voice more this year. The thing about Hannah is that she leads by example. Her work ethic is phenomenal, not just the visible work here. Her constant work at home developing her game, and hours of work running and training that no one else sees. A steady old work ethic and the expectation that she has set, that’s what Hannah has meant to our athletic program. She never turns it off and that is fantastic!”
It is not unusual for Cranford to get up early Saturday mornings after Friday night basketball games to compete in running events. So where did the passion for running come from?
Coach Morris first saw Cranford’s running potential in middle school when he recognized that she was regularly posting times faster than her male classmates.
“I spoke with Hannah about running cross country as a freshman,” said Morris. “I believe the success she had early on motivated her, and led her to put more time into running. She is a great kid. I don’t think early on she ever thought she would run in college. If I told her to run through a brick wall, and she believed it would make her a better runner, she would do it. She is not a rah-rah type of leader. The key to Hannah is her work ethic. In cross country we have never had enough girls to compete as a team, so Hannah has been running for her school and
herself. She trains with the guys. This spring we will have a full girl’s track team. Hannah will definitely be a leader of both the women’s and men’s teams.”
Morris believes Cranford will also be successful at Campbell University.
“She is a gym and track rat that wants to get better and be the best,” said Morris. “She had a lot of offers; a couple of Division 1 schools, many Division 2 and Division 3 schools. Hannah had a goal of going to a D1 school. We don’t have a lot of kids from South Davidson competing athletically at D1 schools.”
Cranford models the definition of student athlete. High school clubs that Cranford has served in are Junior Civitans, HOSA, FCA, and FFCLA. Cranford interned her high school junior year at the Denton Animal Hospital and has been working there part-time since June. She plans on pre-veterinarian studies at Campbell University.
When asked what advice she would give young athletes today for being successful at their chosen sport? Cranford replied, “It takes a commitment to training, making good choices, and sacrificing your time that you could be spending with friends and family.”