Track athlete Janel Haggerty practices multiple events as Owls’ all-time top pentathlete

Luke Flood

Equinox Staff


Some of the best things that happen in sports stem from an unexpected change of events.

Janel Haggerty, a junior member of Keene State track and field team, knows all about the unexpected.

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Haggerty said ever since she was young, she was in love with gymnastics, but was stopped in her tracks due to an injury and had to find something else to fill the space that gymnastics once held.

“I got into track because I hurt myself bad while training for gymnastics,” Haggerty said. “I had torn my rotator cuff and had to stop for awhile, but they never said I couldn’t run.”

She said she never realized the natural ability she had for track.

“Once I got into track, I realize how good I was at it and never stopped from there,” Haggerty said.  “My training for gymnastics really helped for the fact that it was competitive, so that just transferred right over to track and I was just hungry for the wins I knew I was capable of.”

Coming out of high school, Haggerty had many offers she was considering.

“I just wanted to keep my options open and Keene just felt right and I went with it,” Haggerty said.

However, she said things at KSC didn’t start so smoothly, and got a rude awakening when competing in her first event.

“I got my butt absolutely handed to me,” Haggerty said. “Coming from high school with a small track team I was way too confident to say the least. But after getting into the swing of things I definitely found my spot on the team.”

Coach Peter Thomas said, “You could see right away the athletic ability that this girl had. When I was recruiting her I knew right away she had potential and knew that this team would be a fit for her. After a slow start to her freshman year she started to perform like we knew she could.”

Just two weeks ago, Haggerty broke the college’s pentathlon record, which is an accumulation of points based on five events.

Athletes in the pentathlon compete in running events including the 800 meter run, the 55 meter hurdles, and the field events including the long jump, high jump, as well as shotput.

Haggerty had scored a 3139, which an outstanding 300 points over the school record.

This was not Haggerty’s first time participating in this event. Previously she had competed and gotten a score in the 2700s, which was less than desirable.

“I had to run in this pentathlon hoping to qualify for Division III championships. Surprisingly this low score qualified me and in my next race I did much better.” Haggerty touched on the difficulties that come within the pentathlon.

“I think it’s frustrating because you have to be on every single event all in one day. It’s not like you have one day to focus on one event, rather you have to do each event extremely well to have a high score.”

She went on to say, “The hardest part about this particular event is the fact that I have no true place to practice. Yes I do have a track at the high school, but when it comes to things like the high jump I am in the gym, in my sneakers, on a hardwood flood, which does not at all compare to the conditions or surface that I will be competing on.”

Athletic Director John Ratliff said, “I think a factor that greatly determines your success in sports is preparation. When you’re well prepared you make it that much harder the opposition to beat you.”

Haggerty was able to achieve her success despite KSC’s lack of training facilities.

Haggerty said she does not believe this is the peak of her college career.

“Not at all. I think it’s comforting to know that my coaches as well as myself, believe that I have more potential even after how good I did in this event,” Haggerty said. “I had an off day in three of my strongest events, yet even so I still managed to win.”

Haggerty said she just has to keep her confidence high.

“I have a meet this Friday and I know that I can bring it harder and harder every time,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty said the best experiences of her college career were when she went to nationals last year and breaking the school record.

“Just the feeling of being at nationals was overwhelming for me as well as actually getting to compete,” Haggerty said.  “But then to think of how bad of a day I had in the pentathlon and still being able to break a school record gives me a great deal of confidence and hope for the future.”

However, Haggerty said her career had its low points as well.

“My worst would be during my freshman year when I took an awful fall during a race jumping over hurdles. It was so embarrassing,” Haggerty said.


Luke Flood can be contacted at


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