Olivia Ekpone, who runs track for Northwest High School during the school year, has had an awesome summer with the Maryland Titans. Her first big meet was the US World Youth Trials where she placed top six in her three events, tieing her personal best in the 100 (11.68) and coming close to her personal best in the 400 (54.18) and 200 (24.12). Her highest finish was third in the 100 and only the top two were selected to the US World Youth Team.
Last week she was at the USATF Junior Olympic Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. There, she surprised herself by winning the 100-meter dash in 11.87 in addition to placing third in the 400 (54.84), seventh in the 4x100 and second in the 4x400.
The very next day after the finals in Greensboro, she was running preliminaries at the AAU Jr. Olympic Championship in Des Moines Iowa. There, she won the 100 in 11.85 into a 2.2 head wind, and won the 200 in 24.21 into a 4.6 head wind. In the preliminary rounds, she clocked 23.83 in the 200 with a legal tail wind of 2.4. It was the first time she PR'd in an outdoor event since the state championship in her freshman year where she ran incredible times of 11.68, 23.98, and 54.18 in one meet (wind was not measured for these times).
Emily Wolf caught up with Olivia during her down time at the AAU Championship meet and asked her some questions for this brief interview.
MoCoRunning: Did you think you had a good chance of winning one or more events at the USATF meet?
Olivia: Coming into the USATF meet, I knew I had a good chance of placing but never winning. India gave me a pep talk before I ran, along with Coach Dave and Coach Lexi and they helped me realize I could win.
MoCoRunning: Did anything notable happen in the 400 or the 100 at USATF? (false starts, wind, etc.)
Olivia: In the 100 finals, Robin Reynolds false started. It was also raining and there were some strong winds. For the 400 finals, it was a clean start and the weather conditions were the same as the 100 finals.
MoCoRunning: Describe the 4x400 relay - prelims and finals. Splits? Notable events?
Olivia: The 4x400 was the race the Maryland Titans were looking forward to. The relay members - Casey Dowling, Genamarie McCant, India Knight, and myself - were extremely excited and couldn't wait to compete. We knew we had a great chance of making the top three so we were pumped. In the prelims, the main objective was to win the heat. By the time our second leg (Genamarie) got the baton, I knew that we were going to win the heat. In the prelims we ran a 3:49.50. In the finals we wanted to dominate the field. When I crossed the line at 3:46.66, I was happy we ran a PR and the third fastest time in the country! After the race concluded, there was a fist fight between the 2nd place team and another relay team. They were both disqualified for unsportsman like conduct. Casey (59), Genamarie (57), India (56), Olivia (55).
MoCoRunning: How did you feel about your performance at USATF? Your teammates performance?
Olivia: I was very impressed with my performance at USATF. I came home with a gold, silver, and bronze medal along with a 7th place finish in the 4x100. The Maryland Titans represented and I had a great time.
MoCoRunning: What do you feel that you can accomplish at the AAU meet with no rest?
Olivia: Without rest, I feel like I can win the 100 and the 200 at AAU. I feel like I'm capable of doing anything since it is the last meet of my 2009 season.
MoCoRunning: How much of a disappointment was not qualifying for the World Youth Team?
Olivia: It was a little disappointing not making the team but I had a great experience. It was great running against the fastest people in the world and I won't forget it. I'll work harder and I'll be ready next year to try out for the Junior Worlds.
MoCoRunning: What is after AAU?
Olivia: After AAU, I'm planning on resting. I'm not going to do a fall sport like I did my freshman and sophomore year so I can just focus on track. I'm going to try to long jump and high jump over the summer to see if I enjoy those events.