Countless miles and years of dedication paid off for Powell High School distance runner Brynn Hillman, as the senior signed last Wednesday to continue her cross country, track and academic careers …
Countless miles and years of dedication paid off for Powell High School distance runner Brynn Hillman, as the senior signed last Wednesday to continue her cross country, track and academic careers next year at NCAA Division II Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota.
“When I went to visit there I really loved the town,” Hillman said. “The coaches were really nice, supportive and understanding because this cross country season didn’t go the way I wanted it to after my injury.”
Throughout her high school career, Hillman has been one of the better runners in both cross country and track for the Panthers — but injuries have kept her battling year in and year out through each season which has limited her 2023 track and cross country seasons.
“I didn’t want to end my cross country career on how it ended this year,” Hillman said. “They said there is more for me and they can make me faster and a better athlete. I didn’t want to be done yet, especially with how it ended.”
Hillman has put up strong personal bests over her career, which has included a 5:54.11 outdoor mile in her sophomore season and a 5:50.98 indoor mile this past year before sitting out a majority of the outdoor season due to injury.
She was part of the state cross country team her sophomore and junior years, but an injury this season kept her out for a majority of the season after opening the season with a strong 21:46 run in Billings.
Her best time to date in cross country came last year when she finished in 20:44.61 at the Powell home meet her junior season.
Despite all the injuries, she said that she has continued to push through with the help of her coaches and her teammates.
“It’s been really hard honestly. I’ve had a lot of tears over the injuries,” Hillman said. “It was really hard with this cross country season and last track season … I tried to push myself and keep going.”
She said that she couldn’t have done anything without her coaches Ashley Hildebrand and Tracy McArthur, who serve as her coaches during both track and cross country.
They would write workouts specifically for the bike so that Hillman could get a workout in, while not stressing the injury any further.
“They helped me still stay in pretty good shape,” Hillman said.
She said that Black Hills has been similarly accommodating and understanding.
Despite the injury, she was still able to attend the state cross country meet as part of the team and witness the Panthers win their first state title since 2010 in Cheyenne. She also attended the state track and field meets her sophomore and junior years with the Panthers earning state championships each year.
INSPIRING SISTER AND NEW CONNECTIONS
The younger of two siblings, Hillman said that she took inspiration from her older sister Jenna who signed to compete in track and field at Rocky Mountain College just two years ago.
“Even though they are different colleges I still really look up to Jenna and all that she has accomplished,” Brynn said. “All the fun she has had made me want to also go to college and know that there are going to be girls and teammates there who are kind of like a built-in family, because I am scared.”
Despite moving nearly six hours away from home, she said the main thing she is looking forward to is meeting new people, along with running and getting closer to teammates at Black Hills State.
“It (Spearfish) is far away and I am really close with my family, so it makes me nervous, but it makes me feel better knowing that I will have teammates I will get to do things with and build relationships with,” Hillman said.
CLOSING UP SHOP?
While she closes the chapter on her high school career this year, another chapter will come to a partial close for Hillman as her famous home business Brynn’s Bakery will likely hit pause as she heads to college.
She said she’s still debating whether or not to go into the medical field, or to go into business and marketing and open up her own bakery in the future.
“It makes me really sad that I am going to have to be done with it,” Hillman said. “But I will say, when I am home for the holidays I will still be posting and there will still be treats. It will still be my job when I am home at least.”