Fresno native returns to coach for the ‘Dogs

Hannah Waller was added to Fresno State track and field’s coaching staff. (Courtesy of Fresno State Athletics)

The Fresno State track team has added an experienced, local talent to its coaching staff.

Hannah Waller, a Buchanan High School graduate and track champion, finished second place in the 400 meters in the California Interscholastic Federation State Championship her senior year. In addition, Waller’s prior season ended with a 2015 state championship win in the 400 meters and her being named the fastest junior in the country.

After graduating in 2016, Waller took her athletic talents to the University of Oregon, where she continued her track success.

In her time at Oregon, Waller became a first-team All-American in addition to being part of the track team’s first-ever women’s Triple Crown contingent. 

“I was with some of the best athletes – Olympian Raven Rogers, to name one, she’s an Olympian. We have had lots of success, lots of championships and national records to look up to and to stand by,” Waller said.

With her collegiate career finished, Waller looked to start her coaching career, which ultimately led her back to the Central Valley. 

The Central High School Grizzlies track team under Head Coach Cedric Pulliam decided to give Waller the opportunity to try coaching with him for the 2021-22 track season.

“I told her, ‘Hey, why don’t you come on staff with us and shadow and learn how to do things?’ Because obviously, coaching’s a lot different than being an athlete. So it’s a whole different ball game of how to write workouts and personalities, things like that,” Pulliam said.

During her time at Central, the track team found success as the Grizzlies’ boys team took the 2022 CIF State Championship for the first time in school history. 

The Central High School boys team took the 2022 CIF State Championship for the first time in school history. (Courtesy of Central Unified School District )

Waller utilized Pulliam’s coaching style and incorporated her own experience as a track athlete, and her athletes started appreciating her as both a coach and a person.

One of those athletes is current San Jose State sprinter Cameron Tarver. He noted that Waller was very active in her coaching style, often participating in workouts and practices.

“She had her favorite phrase that she would say that we all liked. ‘The last one is the best one.’ So we always attacked our last rep with the most intensity,” Tarver said.

The intensity and active coaching approach should be a warranted addition to Fresno State’s current track coaching staff. 

“It’s an honor. I love the sport, so it doesn’t matter what role I play in it, whether I’m running track, coaching track or being a physician for track athletes, I just want to have a role in it,” Waller said.

The Fresno State track season will begin Dec. 10 at the Spokane Invitational. 

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