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ND Women’s Track and Field: Hirt excels on the track and in the classroom

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The “Notre Dame Family” may be a familiar idea to students on campus and a favorite catchphrase of the Admissions Office, but for junior Molly Hirt, it might as well be a personal motto.

As a three-time all-state runner at Bloomington North High School in Bloomington, Ind., Hirt knew she wanted to continue her career as a collegiate athlete. As an Indiana native with several relatives as alumni, the decision on where to run was not too difficult.

“Being from Bloomington, I’ve grown up right down the road from here,” Hirt said. “One of my grandfathers and two of my uncles graduated from here as well, so Notre Dame has always been where I wanted to go.”

Once Hirt arrived on campus, she faced the daunting task of adjusting to college, both on the track and in the classroom as a biological sciences major. She was able to excel in both areas though by forming another tight-knit family with her friends and teammates.

“It was definitely difficult to manage schoolwork and a higher level of training,” Hirt said. “It’s hard to study every night, especially when you come back from a long run and you’re exhausted, but I’ve learned to challenge myself, and the best part is the friendships I’ve built with my teammates.”

Since then, Hirt has been a consistent contributor on both the cross country and track teams. Last fall, Hirt qualified for the regional cross country meet in Syracuse, where she completed the circuit in 23:12. That finish was good enough for 63rd overall, and Hirt said it was her proudest moment as a member of the team.

Hirt has also had success on the track this season with several strong showings, including a 3,000-meter victory two weeks ago at the Indiana Relays in Bloomington. Her winning time of 9:57 was a personal best, and it also marked the second straight year she had won that race in her return to her hometown.

“I’ve been running on that track since middle school, so it is definitely in my comfort zone, and I have my old friends, my old coach, and my family there to support me,” she said. “It brings back a lot of happy memories, and I get really excited.”

Hirt said her family has been a major reason for much of her running success, and they still attend several events each year to cheer her on. She said their constant support without pressure has made all the difference for her.

“My family has been great throughout this whole process,” Hirt said. “They don’t know a whole lot about running, so they haven’t put any pressure on me like some other families might. They’re really supportive though, and they just tell me to go out and have fun.”

Hirt has thrived in that atmosphere, and her future looks bright. With over a year left in her college career, she said she hoped to continue to run well and to qualify and score at the bigger regional meets. After college, Hirt said she wants to attend medical school, but she doesn’t see an end to her competitive career anytime soon.

“I plan on going to medical school at either Indiana or Duke,” she said. “I’ll continue running though, either on an elite team or just doing some road races for fun.”