Printed on: June 15, 2013

Side-by-side successes

Arco's Traughber, Hansen still going strong together

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

To this day, they remember the first time they went toe to toe. The childhood showdown between 2013 Butte County High School graduates Korbin Traughber and Carly Hansen occurred at the annual Atomic Days Fun Run in Arco the summer before fifth grade. A boy won the kids' mile, but the two girls finished in a dead heat for second that they still laugh about.

"It came down to the last 50 yards and me and Korbin were neck and neck and they called it a tie," Hansen said.

"I don't think I talked to her afterwards," Traughber said.

That photo finish fittingly represented two competitive friends who became basketball teammates in fourth grade, traveled as far as Lawrence, Kan., to compete in the Junior Olympics cross-country nationals as seventh-graders and advanced to every cross-country and track state championship meet in high school without a full team to run with.

While graduation often sends high school athletes separate ways, the Traughber-Hansen saga will continue. Both added to their shared history by signing with Idaho State University's cross-country and track programs two months apart.

"When you look at that record board for track, you might find one dominant athlete every five to 10 years," said Sam Thorngren, who coached Traughber and Hansen during their first three varsity track seasons. "Those people usually have one or two school records. These two have six. It's rare."

They have each other

Becoming three-sport teammates was no surprise.

The second of four athletic siblings, Hansen started running with her father. The youngest of three and the only daughter, Traughber grew up accompanying oldest brother, Garrett, to his cross-country practices. Their mothers, Carla Hansen and Dawn Traughber, were also Butte County basketball teammates.

"Her mom gave my mom a call and asked me if I wanted to run with Korbin," Hansen said. "We were just both goofy enough that we fit in together."

That humor defines them better than their medal and race bib number collection. Hours on the road and in the gym can push athletes apart or bring them closer, but Hansen and Traughber balanced competition with friendship.

"They joke around and they're sweet kids," said Jesse Lettington, who taught them in seventh grade and coached them in varsity basketball. "Then you watch them get on the floor and you can see the fire coming out of their eyes. It's funny to outsiders who watch them. That friendship is still there."

This was especially true while competing in the same track events.

"In every race after we finished, we'd both go give each other a hug," Hansen added. "No one knows the hard work that gets put in behind the scenes and I think when we finished at the end of the day, we both know how hard we've worked."

Shared sacrifices also provided strength.

Hansen and Traughber said they are most excited about having a full team at ISU. Before it grew, Hansen and Traughber were the lone representatives of Butte County's first middle school cross-country program that Dawn Traughber started. They later competed as individuals for Butte's varsity cross-country program that Traughber's father, Tim, preserved.

"They were lucky to have each other because they pushed each other," Thorngren said. "It was a no-excuses deal."

Arco's streets and mountains became Hansen's and Traughber's training grounds. Thorngren said Butte looked into a Nike sponsorship that would cover half the costs to replace its 440-yard cinder track before Hansen and Traughber graduated, but the community couldn't come up with the other half.

Those realities made the ISU signings sweeter.

"I can't tell you how many cement roads and gravel roads I had to find to get my track workout done," Hansen said. "It's crazy to believe that two little Butte girls can make it to the Division I level."

Connected for life

The ISU offers came about differently for Traughber and Hansen.

Traughber, who said she didn't consider college sports until after her freshman year, is still receiving offers. Her third full-ride offer came from LSU women's basketball after she signed with ISU, something Thorngren and Lettington wouldn't let her live down.

"I tried to talk her into it so I could get football tickets," Thorngren said with a laugh.

Hansen had been in contact with college basketball programs until breaking her foot in November. She was on crutches in January when she visited with ISU's track and cross-country coaches, and Pocatello felt right.

"I hadn't really even thought of running in college," Hansen said. "I went there and it just fit for me."

Signing with ISU has allowed both young women to reflect. Both said they are grateful for the opportunities they've had and new ones ahead.

"Knowing that I have accomplished so much all over the country, it's surprising, and to have somebody like Carly who I've gotten to share it all with knowing that she was at every single one of those races, it's pretty crazy," Traughber said.

It's also added to the irony of their shared careers. While Traughber and Hansen joke about maybe becoming neighbors, their coaches don't doubt it.

"They're connected for life, whether they like it or not," Lettington said with a laugh. "They'll probably end up marrying guys from the same town."

Regardless of where they go, their coaches said they look forward to watching them continue to make Arco proud.

"There's a lot of people who wouldn't know about Butte County if it wasn't for those two," Thorngren said. "They certainly brought a lot more spotlight to us."

Tandem Timeline

Fourth grade

First year as basketball teammates on a recreation league team

Fifth grade

Finished tied for second in Atomic Days Fun Run kids mile

Started traveling outside Idaho for cross-country, basketball and track

Korbin's mother, Dawn, starts Butte's first middle school cross-country program

Sixth grade

Ran at Junior Olympics cross-country nationals in Spokane, Wash.

Seventh grade

Ran at Junior Olympics cross-country nationals in Lawrence, Kan.

Eighth grade

Ran at Nike Cross at Walnut Grove, Calif.

Members of Butte County's undefeated eighth-grade girls basketball team

Traughber's and Hansen's respective times of 5:05.90 and 5:26.00 put them at sixth and 28th on athletic .net's U.S. middle school 1,500-meter rankings

Ninth grade

Ran at Junior Olympics cross-country Nationals in Reno, Nev.

Called up to Butte County varsity girls basketball team

Hansen finished second, Traughber was fifth at 2A state cross-country meet

Combined for six top-five finishes at 2A state track meet

10th grade

Hansen won 2A girls state cross-country title

Combined for three top-five finishes at state track meet

11th grade

Hansen was 4th, Traughber 7th at 2A state cross-country meet

Basketball district champions, 2A state champions to finish 23-3

Combined for four top-five finishes at 2A state track meet

12th grade

Finished fifth and sixth at 1A state cross-country meet

Basketball went 23-2, won district title, 1A state consolation champs; Traughber surpassed 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds

Hansen won first district track title (3,200)

Teamed with Jessica Bates to give Butte County third place at 1A state third-place team track trophy, Butte's first track trophy since 1997

Traughber won first state track titles (800 and 1,600)

Traughber and Hansen signed with Idaho State University to run cross-country and track