Hannah Hurleman achieves state-level success in 3 sports, despite car accident – Car Accident
Hannah Hurleman had looked at the 2022 PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships as the crowning moment of her three-sport high school career.
Ever since she was winning summer age-group races when she was 9, swimming was her favorite sport.
Hurleman competed for Exeter the last three seasons in a co-op agreement with Wyomissing. She dreamed about winning four medals in her final appearance at states.
Five days before the PIAA meet, however, she thought her dream ended when she was injured in a car accident two blocks from her home on her way to swim practice.
“The driver that hit me ran a stop sign,” Hurleman recalled. “I lost control of my car and slammed into a tree. I had a cut on my forehead. I unbuckled myself and ran out of the car because I thought I smelled smoke.
“I was hyperventilating. It hurt so bad. My first thought was that states were out of the picture, that I wasn’t going to be able to swim.”
Thinking she had bruised ribs, she helped Exeter place sixth in the 200 medley relay and seventh in the 400 freestyle relay. Individually, she placed 10th in the 50 free and 15th in the 100 free.
They weren’t the finishes she had wanted. A week later, though, Hurleman learned why. She had suffered a broken sternum in the accident, making her performance at states almost mythical.
“I have no idea how she swam the times that she swam, even though she wasn’t happy with them,” Exeter swimming coach Ashley Rosa said. “The fact that she was able to win state medals with a broken sternum is beyond me. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Hurleman was selected as one of the five finalists for the Reading Eagle Female Athlete of the Year award after enjoying success in three sports as a senior.
She was an All-State selection in soccer and led Wyomissing to the District 3 Class 2A championship and the PIAA quarterfinals. In track, she ran on the Spartans’ 1600 relay, which finished second in the district and qualified for states.
“It’s a very rare thing for an athlete to compete at the state level in three sports,” Rosa said. “The other thing to keep in mind is that she was starting late in swimming and track because of how accomplished she was. What she did is just a testament to her.”
Because of her injury, Hurleman didn’t begin training for track until late April when she went against the wishes of her physical therapist, Justin Eisenhofer, a former champion swimmer at Schuylkill Valley. She decided to focus on the 1600 relay and not her individual specialty, the 400.
“My first two races were probably the hardest races I’ve ever run,” she said. “I was feeling it.”
Hurleman was more accomplished in swimming and soccer, where she was a four-year starter and had 77 goals and 43 assists in her career.
She led the county with 35 goals and 14 assists last fall when the Spartans went 23-2, lost 2-1 to Wilson in the Berks title game, won their second straight District 2 2A championship and lost 2-1 to Allentown Central Catholic in the PIAA quarterfinals.
“Soccer, for me, was more about the friendships I created,” Hurleman said. “I played with a lot of my best friends, people I grew up with. I never thought about focusing just on swimming. Soccer was so important to me.
“Mentally, it was really helpful being a three-sport athlete. Getting to take that break (from swimming) was really important to me.”
Wyomissing soccer coach Rachel Hoffman, a star player at Penn State in the 1990s, said Hurleman has enough talent to play soccer in college.
“Her athleticism and her determination to be the best put her over the top,” Hoffman said. “It propelled her to be one of the better players on our team and in the county. She was very coachable. She listened and tried to follow through with any suggestions the coaches gave her.
“She was a team player who always looked for her teammates. She was very positive. She had all that energy, that will to win. Other players saw how hard she worked and they worked harder.”
When Hurleman was in ninth grade, she talked with her parents, Jason and Lisa, and discussed what sport she hoped to play in college. Swimming was always her favorite sport, so she decided to give up playing club soccer but not for the high school team.
“She knew if she focused on soccer, she would have to give up swimming,” Lisa Hurleman said. “She rolled the dice. She loves the two sports equally, but maybe she realized deep down that she had more room to grow in swimming.”
Hurleman committed last year to Arizona State, where she has been guaranteed a spot on the roster. Her scholarship money will depend on her performances.
She will face tremendous competition in the Pac-12, just like she did when she began to swim with Class 3A Exeter after medaling in states in Class 2A as a Wyomissing freshman.
“It’s definitely scary to start with a whole new team like that,” Rosa said. “Moving to Triple-A only excited Hannah. My experience working with her has been so positive. She’s such a hard worker and not afraid of a challenge.”
Hurleman’s ultimate challenge came after her accident at Reading Boulevard and Forest Avenue in Wyomissing.
“That corner is notorious for people running the stop sign,” Lisa Hurleman said. “I ran down and saw her car on someone else’s property. I’m sure she freaked and got scared. That was a tough day, a really tough day. It was devastating.”
The fracture wasn’t identified on the original CT scan, so Hurleman thought she just had a bad bruise.
“I went to practice on Monday,” she said. “It hurt, but I thought I could swim through it. There was no way I was going to miss my last state meet and throw away a chance at medaling.”
She took Advil and other over-the-counter pain medication, but it only helped a little. She had trouble breathing and was bent over after swimming at the PIAA meet at Bucknell. By the second day, she struggled to do a flip turn.
“I couldn’t push myself up to get out of the pool,” Hurleman said. “I just remember after the 100 free. I was hyperventilating because I couldn’t … it hurt so bad.”
Somehow she persevered and won the seventh and eighth PIAA medals of her career. She would have had 10 if she had duplicated or bettered her fifth in the 50 free and her sixth in the 100 free in 2021. She had won a silver medal in the 50 free at districts.
“Oh, my God, it was amazing,” Lisa Hurleman said. “She was still beating other girls. At that point she didn’t know there was a fracture. She thought she wasn’t being tough enough. She was mad at herself.
“I know how disappointed she was. It breaks your heart. That one-second car accident changed everything. For her to come out with those two relay medals means more to her than anything.”