MCARTHUR — After crossing the finish line at the regional cross country meet at Pickerington North High School, Olivia Mayers etched her name in school history.
She became the second girl to qualify and later run at the state meet as both an individual and as part of a team, joining 2020 graduate Rylee Fee.
During Mayers’ four years on the path, she has ran her way to All-TVC and All-District honors every single year.
To end her cross country career at Vinton County, she finished with a time of 20:20.4, earning her 73rd place out of 177 runners in the Division II girls race.
The Courier caught up with Mayers to discuss her cross country career, the experience at state and much more.
Question: With this being your final year of cross country, all eyes were sort of you to fill the shoes Rylee left. Did you feel that type of pressure going into the season?
Mayers: I definitely felt some pressure to be an example and be a successful runner, but I also knew my own skill set and what I could accomplish. I really focused on the dynamics of the team this year and what could be accomplished with our small group.
Q: How did you evolve into even more of a leader this season? Was it more by actions or with words?
M: I’ve always felt that I should be a good example, but being a senior this year has really enhanced that. I try to be a leader by showing up to practice every day and working hard to prove that success comes from that. But I also tried to boost morale, and I think my teammates thought I was a little silly, but it helped us to come closer as a team and have a good time.
Q: At the regional meet, the team finished 12th overall. But you finished 26th, which qualified you for state. What was the feeling like after you realized you have one final race at the state meet?
M: I’ve never had a cross country race where I wasn’t with my team, so it was a bittersweet moment. However, I have a lot of support and I’ve been working towards this all season. I knew that people were counting on me and I was counting on myself. But honestly, I was excited because they give you chocolate milk at state.
Q:Getting to represent Vinton County at the state meet in back-to-back seasons, how much did that mean to you?
M: It is my second time at state, and both times were completely different. But to be able to compete at such a level has been a blessing, and it’s definitely something I will always remember.
Q: You’ve ran twice at state as an individual. Compare the two times, what do you feel you did much better this time compared to the last?
M: I had a really good start and got out pretty good. I did trip and fall, but all I could do was get back up and keep running! Definitely didn’t give up during this race.
Q: Looking back at everything you accomplished in your four years in cross country, what are a couple of your best memories?
M: I think my favorite memory will always be winning TVC as a team freshman year. We were all so excited and it was the best day. One of my teammates that year cried when we told her, and we dumped water on Coach K! I always go back to that memory. And also just all the good times my team has spent together. We would hand out on our time, so a lot of my cross memories are of singing, dancing and laughing on and off the course.
Q: Talk a little bit about your teammates and coaches and what they’ve meant to you over the past four years.
M: I really have the best coaches and teammates around. They are some of the most supportive people I know. Coach K (Josh Kirkpatrick) has put so much time into cross country and making sure we are the best we can be, so a lot of my success as a runner goes to him. He is always encouraging me and my teammates to not only work hard at running, but in all aspects of our lives. And I love my teammates so much. They are the greatest people and my team has a bond like no other. I trust my teammates a lot and know that they are working just as hard , and even harder, than I am. The Lord has really blessed and surrounded me with good people.