Athlete to watch: Hailey Fune


Hailey Fune is currently a senior at Chico High School and has participated in the track and field team all four years. Photo credit: Karina Cope

Big things have come from track and field star, Hailey Fune, recently and she expects to see bigger things from herself in the near future.

Fune, now a senior at Chico High, made her claim to fame when she was named the fastest hurdler in Northern Section history as of last spring, clocking in at a time of 14.62 at the Division I Championships.

As a freshman during the Northern Section Finals, Fune was runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles. She claimed first place in the same event at her first California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Championship appearance as a sophomore. Fune has made Chico High track and field known by its competitors.

“You don’t really know what’s going to happen with hurdles, because if you hit a hurdle it’s all over,” Fune said. “… with sprints you go in knowing how fast you are compared to everyone else.”

Growing up, Fune has always had a passion for sports. She picked up gymnastics by the age of three and continued until she was 13. Those 10 years of her early life proved to be very crucial, as the sport of gymnastics is where her running career began. Running during vaulting in gymnastics introduced her to what she would eventually learn to love and pursue.

Hailey Fune is the fastest hurdler in Northern Section history.

Through out her childhood Fune and her best friend, Sophie Hanf, did gymnastics together. Oliver Hanf, Sophie’s father, who is currently the Head Coach of Men’s Track and Field at Chico State originally introduced Fune to track and field. Fune found a new passion and decided to explore it starting her freshman year of high school.

Fune’s parents are her number one supporters and biggest fans;They come out to every single track meet and root on their beloved daughter.

In addition to her parents, Fune has a whole group of friends alongside to support her high school experience and career as an athlete. The two other runners that accompany her on the relay team are her two best friends.

The trio participated in gymnastics together and now they all compete in high school track together. Feeling comfortable around her two best friends that double as teammates makes her track and field experience that much more enjoyable.

Fune and her relay teammates are admired by the entire track and field team. If runners have questions, they come to Fune for advice and tips that will better themselves as athletes. Especially the younger runners, they view Fune as a mentor who is familiar with the sport and can show the rookies the ropes.

“You are friends with everyone on the field,” Fune said. “If you’re lined up on the line, you’re just talking to everyone. You’re all in the same boat – you’re freaking out for your race.”

Much of Fune’s success is attributed to Carolyn Kurnizki, head coach of the Girl’s track and field team as well as the hurdle coach. Kurnizki also has prior experience in gymnastics and is a personal trainer at Chico Sports Club. Fune mentions how it is nice to have Kurnizki’s “personal training side” coaching her and keeping Fune in top physical shape.

“Everything I’ve learned is from her (Kurnizki) – hurdling, jumping, everything. She knows how to coach everything,” Fune said.

On another note, Fune is able to efficiently manage her grades, schoolwork, and on-campus job despite her two to three-hour practices after school each day. Even with that much on her plate, she is still very capable and keeps her responsibilities in line.

This season, Fune aspires to make it to Finals and place in the top six at state championship. Working on speed will help reach her goals and ultimately allow her to perform stronger in relays, high jump and triple jump. Additionally, Fune hopes to succeed at the state championship with her relay race team.

“You’re with a team in the race, you’re not by yourself,” Fune said. “You’re working hard to support everyone else on the field. Track – you don’t have a team really, it’s an individual sport.”

Fune is looking to run in college, and is in the process of deciding between competing in Division I or Division II. A major factor she keeps in mind is that Division I will require an extensive amount of time and work, but will provide more competition.

Her major focus this upcoming track season however, is seeing how much more she can improve on during her senior year before heading off to college.

“Being that figure as someone to be afraid of is a good feeling and accomplishment, just for the school in general,” Fune said. “That’s my biggest thing – representing this school.”

Karina Cope can be reached at or @KarinaICope on Twitter.