MARPLE >> If Olivia Arizin had a chance to do her senior outdoor track season at Cardinal O’Hara over again, she wouldn’t change a thing.
Sure, she had her ups and downs. Every athlete does, but overall the season went just the way Arizin planned.
“I learned a lot and had a lot of fun with the other senior girls,” Arizin said. “It’s sad to leave them because we had a really fun year.”
Defending her title in the Class 3A title in the 800-meter run at the PIAA Championships made the season a little more enjoyable and solidified Arizin’s selection as the 2017 Daily Times Girls Track Athlete of the Year.
It wasn’t an easy choice. Penn Wood’s Terri Turner also was considered for the county’s top honor in girls track. She was having an Athlete of the Year-type season until she sprained her right ankle at the Delco Championships. It would have been very interesting to see how the season had played out if Turner remained healthy, especially since Turner beat Arizin and set the county record to win the indoor state title in the 800.
This honor, though, was for the outdoor season and in the end, the ultimate tie-breaker was Arizin’s victory in the 800, one of just two gold medals won by a county athlete at the PIAA Championships. The other was by Delco Christian’s Maggie Linton in the Class 2A 800.
Joining Arizin on the All-Delco team are: Cardinal O’Hara teammates Christine Mancini, Elizabeth Mancini and Schola Eburuoh; Turner, Janae Pitt, Elicia Moore, Kyra Carroll and Tatiyana Laylor (Penn Wood); Grace Forbes and Rachel Kent (Strath Haven); Michelle Brown-Jones and Sugar Henry (Upper Darby), Cecilia Katcavage and Maddie Santoro (Haverford High) and Tara Higgins (Penncrest).
Arizin, Turner, Moore, Pitt, Henry and Elizabeth Mancini are repeat selections. The All-Delco team was selected by the Daily Times after consultation with county coaches.
Repeating as the state 800-meter champ was the goal from the start for Arizin. All of her training was geared toward being in pique condition for the PIAA Championships.
“I ran the same amount of races as last year, I just did it a little differently,” Arizin said. “I did relays to start with and then moved into open events.”
Arizin did not run her first open 800 until the third meet of the Catholic League season, which was April 18. The first time she ran the event at an invitational was a week later at Springfield. The plan worked perfectly. Along the way, Arizin won the Delco title in the 800 for the second time in her career, and won the event for the fourth consecutive year at the Catholic League and District 12 championships. She also helped the Lions win the Catholic League and District 12 team titles for the fourth year in a row.
She took a different tact to win her second state 800-meter title. As a junior, Arizin led from the start to win in a county record 2 minutes, 6.80 seconds. This time around she waited until the 250-meter mark to make her move and win in 2:07.49, the second-fastest time in county history.
The change in strategy showed her growth as a runner.
“I learned a lot this year,” Arizin said. “Every year has ups and some things did not go as planned. You have to learn from that and I did, and that’s going to help me in the future.”
Arizin is getting ready for that next chapter in her life. She will spend her summer preparing for her freshman year at Georgetown.
“I know the best is coming,” Arizin said. “I haven’t reached my full potential yet. I’m excited to start lifting and have a bunch of faster girls to train with, and I look forward to working with all the great coaches at Georgetown.”
Hoyas head coach Julie Culley has high hopes for Arizin.
“Olivia has the potential to join the ranks with Georgetown’s legendary 800- and 1,500-meter stars,” Culley said. “She will spend the early part of her career on the Hilltop nurturing her speed and building aerobic strength with the intention of moving up to the 1,500 and mile. The depth of Olivia’s talent is immense and we look forward to helping her mature as an athlete and developing her into one of the nation’s best collegians.”
Arizin has already started preparations to become the athlete Culley believes she can be. Arizin is lifting weights for the first time in her career.
“I just started a program,” Arizin said. “I go once a week. I’m easing into it.”
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age that Arizin is doing weight training for the first time.
“I never felt the need,” Arizin said. “I hit all high school goals without it.”
The bar may be set higher as she heads off to college, but her objectives haven’t changed. Arizin likes to keep things simple.
“The goals are to have fun, make memories with my team and listen to what coach Julie (Culley) says,” Arizin said. “I’m excited to try and PR each season and get stronger and be the best that I can be.”
Top Photo: Cardinal O’Hara’s Olivia Arizin, who defended her PIAA Class 3A title in the 800-meter run, is the 2017 Daily Times Girls Track Athlete of the Year. (Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)
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