GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) – Barlow High School senior Olivia Johnson dreams of winning a state title in track before she graduates.
“Hopefully we’ll come up on one this year,” said Johnson with a smile.
“She’s the third best female distance runner in Oregon right now,” Jim Babson, Barlow’s cross-country and track coach, said.
“This year across the division she was pretty consistently third in the state,” said Ben Foubert, Barlow’s assistant track/cross-country coach. “When she raced at the regional meet, she was the third Oregon girl.
“And then at the [Nike] Border Clash – the big one [between] Oregon versus Washington – she was the third Oregon girl there as well.”
“I think her story is she just about her sophomore year when she decided that she wanted to be good, and was willing to work really hard,” said Babson.
“My sophomore year I started training pretty hard during the winter, and I started really focusing on training,” said Johnson. “My track season was kind of whatever, but then I had my very last track race [where] I had the best race of my life. I was ranked fifth, and I won the district meet in the 3,000.
“My sophomore year in track was the first time I’d ever gone to the state meet, and it was just an amazing privilege to go, and I felt so lucky,” said Johnson.
Last year during the state meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Johnson ran a personal best in the 3,000 meters and finished second with a strong kick.
“Around the 600 [mark during the race] was where I was like, ‘I can really do this.’ And then I just went for it,” said Johnson. “I came around [on the] bell lap, and I was just zooming. I just kept running as fast as I could just to stay in second, and then I ended up coming so close to the girl in first.
“I had broken the school record [in the 3,000 meters] at the Centennial Invite a couple of weekends before [the state meet in Eugene],” said Johnson.
“I got fourth at the Centennial Invite, and I ran a 10:11, which broke the school record by three seconds. But then I came back for the state meet and broke the school record again.”
Johnson holds the school record in the 3,000 meters, with a time of 9:55.7. She’s also run 2:23 in the 800 meters and 4:48 in the 1,500 meters.
“I’m sure by the end of the season she’ll have 800 and 1,500 school records as well,” said Foubert. “She really wants to be successful. She loves the sport of running.”
There’s another sport she really loves, too.
“I’ve been a skier since I was 4,” said Johnson. “I did ski team almost all four years except I am not doing it this year. [The main reason is] just to take precautions and really to focus on training, because I don’t want to regret anything for track season.
“Keep going with whatever you’re doing. People will tell you like, ‘You can’t do it.’ So many people have told me, ‘You’re never going to be a top runner in the state.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I am.’”