SPENCE JOINS HANSONS-BROOKS
By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved (used with permission)
cross country title
(20-Apr) — For the first time in her life, Neely Spence will be changing
The 22 year-old NCAA D-II star for Shippensburg University will leave the care
of her father Steve, the 1991 IAAF World Championships Marathon bronze medalist
and Shippensburg coach, and move to Michigan to be coached by Keith and Kevin
Hanson of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project in Rochester Hills.
The move, announced yesterday, is a big step for Spence, who only recently
signed a professional management contract with Flynn Sports Management of Grey,
Tenn. (Ray Flynn negotiated the deal with Hansons-Brooks for Spence). The 15:27.72 5000m runner, who won
eight NCAA D-II individual titles, will be training amongst mostly marathon
runners, including Desi Davila, Melissa White and Dot McMahan. By any measure, she is the most
accomplished runner ever to enter the Hansons program whose founders operate a
chain of running stores which bear their name.
“I have spent the last few months visiting training groups and talking to
both coaches and athletes, looking for the right professional environment that
can help take my performances to the next level,” said Spence through a
statement. “The dynamic of
the team and coaches, the incredible amount of support, the common goal of a
long and successful career, and enthusiasm for bringing me on board are all
reasons why I am so excited about joining the Hansons-Brooks ODP.”
Race Results Weekly had learned this news several days ago in Boston, but
respected the news embargo until yesterday’s official announcement. Coaches of other training groups told
us privately in Boston that they were surprised by Spence’s decision since the
Hansons program lacks a track pedigree, but uniformly praised the dedication
and discipline the Hansons brought to their jobs, pointing out that they had
placed coached both Brian Sell and Davila to Olympic team berths in 2004 and
2008.Clearly, the Hansons
are pleased to have Spence in their group.
“We are extremely excited to bring an athlete the caliber of Neely Spence
into the Hansons-Brooks family,” said Kevin Hanson through a news release.
“We feel that she has the
ability to race with the best females in the U.S. and will make an excellent
teammate and training partner for our other female athletes.”
Spence, who has already changed her Facebook page to include the Hansons-Brooks
logo, has been spending considerable time planning her upcoming wedding.She got engaged to Dillon Gracey on
Christmas in 2011.