ABILENE – Former Abilene Christian Wildcat Alexandria Hackett recently qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials after posting a time of 2:42.43 at the California International Marathon held Dec. 2 in Sacramento.

The B standard for trials is set at 2:45 (2:37 for A standard) and Hackett finished well under that threshold by averaging a 6:12 minute (per mile) in her marathon debut.

“My goal from joining the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A) this summer to now was to make a 2:45,” said Hackett. “I heard horror stories going into the marathon because it’s 26.2 miles and you can go out too fast, but I’m very happy with my consistency and staying at 6:12 for the entire race. For my next marathon, whether it’s at trials or one in between, I plan to be more aggressive. I have nothing to lose.”

Hackett has competed in several major distance races since graduating from ACU this spring. She ran a 59:51 (10-miler) in late July to place third in Rhode Island, and later posted back-to-back top-three showings in Providence (17:24 5K) and Gloucester (35:20 10K). In the leadup to the CIM, she was the top female finisher at the Ashworth Awards Baystate Half Marathon, conquering that course in 1:17.30 (5:54 minutes per mile).

A native of Cranston, R.I., Hackett, and her twin sister, Michaela, joined the B.A.A. after returning to the east coast to start their careers with Ernst and Young. And based on their success with the Wildcats, both were welcomed onto B.A.A.’s first tier racing team, which features 28 additional members (male and female).

Perks as a racing team member include complimentary entry fees, free gear, access to the tracks at Harvard and MIT, and coaching. As a result of her position within the club, Hackett soon began working with Running Club and Racing Team Coach Michael McGrane, who put together a set of goals and training plans 16 weeks from the date of the CIM.

“It was a detailed plan, which I started in August. I posted it on the fridge and followed it to a tee,” said Hackett. “Everything on it was within my capabilities, and when I got to California the weather was perfect. The smoke had cleared out and it was between 40 and 55 degrees.”

Those who have followed the Hacketts throughout their collegiate careers should not be surprised that Allie qualified for Olympic Trials on her first attempt. As a two-time winner of ACU’s Paul Goad Award (all-sport MVP), Allie left the Wildcats’ track and field program with 24 career victories, including eight at the Southland Conference level.

She and Michaela also were the first female Wildcats to represent ACU at the NCAA D1 Cross Country Championship, going to Louisville in 2017 after earning All-South Central Region honors at Texas A&M.

Hackett didn’t make the decision to train for a marathon until this May when her collegiate career was complete. She was primarily focused on the 3K and 1500-meter run during her first two seasons at ACU and then moved up to the 5 and 10K runs as a junior. She only competed in the 10K four times as a collegian, winning both times at conference with marks of 34:47.79 (2016) and 36:22.06 (2018). She also placed 22nd in this event at Mt. SAC Relays (34:24.48) and posted a then-lifetime best of 33:51.73 at the 2018 NCAA West Preliminary round to finish 24th.

“I’ll have more potential in the marathon the older I get,” said Hackett. “When I was younger the focus was on shorter distances, and before this summer I had not done a long run beyond 16 or 17 miles. I did my first 18-mile run in October, and then hit 22 miles in November.”

The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon won’t take place until Feb. 29, 2020, but Hackett expects the 15 months to quickly pass by as she recovers, trains and builds up her mileage once more.

So, what’s next for Hackett? That’s the question everyone is asking.

“I was so focused on the CIM with my detailed 16-week plan that I blocked everything out after that,” she said. “Now I have two weeks off running but there’s some cross training to do. I’ll make a plan and set my next goals. Even though there’s nothing on calendar racing wise, I’m guessing that will soon change. Maybe I’ll run the B.A.A. 5K, which is the same weekend of the Boston Marathon (April 13, 2019).

The Olympic Trials – Marathon will take place in conjunction with the Atlanta Marathon, which will be held the following day. The top three female and male finishers in the Olympic Trials who have met qualifying performance standards will be named to the U.S. Olympic Team that will compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.