PASO ROBLES — Wednesday afternoon in the performing arts center at Paso Robles High School, the Bearcats celebrated the promotion of two seniors who will be continuing their athletic and academic careers at four-year colleges. Track and field star Kendall Caruana will be staying close to home as she signed her National Letter of Intent to run for Fresno Pacific University while Madeline Hanauer will be moving to Michigan to attend Alma College and be part of their top-level stunt team.
The auditorium was filled up with friends, coaches, counselors and family for the ceremony as the athletes were showered with praise as each person that wanted to talk was allowed to do so.
“It has been a pleasure working with her but the season is not over yet,” Paso Robles head track coach Ivan Huff said. “We are not done yet. I know she will be successful because she works so hard, she wants it badly and will be missed in Bearcatville.”
Caruana has been a staple of the Bearcats track team and a jack of all trades as she has competed in both the sprints and distance races or wherever her coaches might need her. Caruana began her career running cross country for coach Huff before converting to track and will now have opportunity to focus on just a few events as Fresno Pacific will have her running the 800-meters and potentially the 1500-meters.
The senior has spent much of this season running the 400 and the 800 but is excited to leave the 400 behind at the next level.
“I love the 800,” she said. “I am glad I am not running the 400, the 800 is where it is at.”
Caruana never planned to end up in Fresno saying, “I didn’t apply to Fresno State because I personally do not like Fresno,” but says coaches and especially the team, “drew me in,” and, “felt right.” Caruana took second at the County Meet in the 800 on Saturday and was visibly frustrated posting a time of 2 minutes and 28.03 seconds. She posted her personal best at the County Meet in 2018 when she ran a 2:18.47. The Bearcat turned Sunbird will have one more shot to finish as the county’s fastest girl in the 800 at the Mountain League finals.
While Caruana will end up in a place she never expected, Hanauer is heading to a place that at one point she didn’t think she belonged.
“Maddy and I used to watch the Instagram posts from Alma College many years back,” stunt head coach Tori Loney said at the ceremony. “And we would look at them and we would just think about how they were such a wonderful, strong, talented team. They are that team you dream to be a part of.”
If you are unfamiliar with Alma College stunt they are the Ohio State, Alabama or USC cheerleading equivalent of those football programs. They are a storied and prestigious university and will be competing for a National Title in Norman, Okla.
Hanauer caught the eye of the Alma coaches while at the first ever stunt combine that was held in two locations by USA Cheer last September. Hanauer decided to attend the combine in Northern California and went in with the idea to impress the Sacramento State coaches, not Alma.
“I was really shooting for the Sacramento coach to notice me,” Hanauer said. “Because I thought that Alma was out of my league.”
After the completion of the combine not only did Hanauer impress the coaches of Sacramento State and Cal Poly, which were the other schools she was looking at but also caught the eye of the coach from Alma and earned a visit to Michigan.
“Being brought out to Michigan for a visit, that says so much not just about her work ethic,” Loney said. “To get to that point to be invited from the combine to go visit that team but to also receive her scholarship is an outstanding credit to her.”
While the Stunt team has only been around for three years Hanauer is the team’s all-time leading stats holder and will try and lead her team to a state title at the end of this season.