Bull Dogs distance runner raises bar for local competitors

Olivia Morlok’s track season started a few weeks later than most of her teammates, but it also ended a couple of weeks later.

The Columbus North freshman was the only girl from her school — and from the entire county — to qualify for the state finals. She finished 16th in the 3,200 meters and is this year’s The Republic Girls Track Athlete of the Year.

“I didn’t really think about (the late start),” Morlok said. “I was just taking it one meet at a time.”

Morlok’s late start to the season came because she was competing for her club swim team. That followed a successful high school swim season that saw her qualify for the state finals on a pair of relay teams.

In the fall, Morlok finished 83rd in the state cross-country meet.

Morlok ran the 1,600 in her first three meets this track season. She then bumped up to 3,200 and ran 11 minutes, 42 seconds in her first race at that distance.

In the Franklin Sectional, Morlok ran only 11:57.29 to finish second. But then, she broke out with a personal-best 11:12.62 the following week to win the Franklin Regional.

At state, Morlok ran 11:23.83 after getting spiked about 150 meters into the race.

“We knew that she was really tough,” North coach Lou Sipe said. “When she came out, we were thrilled to have her, and we were obviously thrilled with how she finished the year. She has that state meet experience, so she knows what to expect. We’re very optimistic with what she can do in the future.”

Morlok, who returned last week from a 10-day trip with her family to Japan, has been doing more swimming than running since her track season ended.

As soon as the Morloks got back from Japan, they drove to Wisconsin for the Central Zone Open Water Championships. They got there at 2 a.m. Saturday, and Olivia competed that morning.

“Since I’ve started running, especially high school running, my swimming has not been as good,” Morlok said. “I haven’t been performing like I used to when I was younger.”

This summer, she plans to condition with the cross-country team in addition to her club swimming. She hopes all the training pays off her the next three years.

“This season, I kind of didn’t know what to expect, but now, I know more of what high school running is like, and next year, I hope to come back, know where I can be and hopefully get better from there,” Morlok said.

At a glance

The Republic All-Area Girls Track team:

Olivia Morlok, Columbus North: The freshman finished 16th at state in the 3,200.

Arig Tong, Columbus North: The junior finished fourth in the Franklin Regional in the 1,600 and 16th in the 800.

Adrienne Salemme, Columbus North: The freshman finished sixth in the Franklin Regional in the pole vault.

Maddy Fields, Brown County: The senior tied for eighth at state in the pole vault.

Kathleen McCann, Brown County: The senior finished fifth in the 200 and eighth in the 100 in the Bloomington North Regional.

Kayla Truesdell, Jennings County: The sophomore finished 10th at state in the discus and 16th in the shot put.

Hailley Peters, Trinity Lutheran: The senior finished 10th at state in the high jump.

Beyoncey Coleman-Turner, Columbus East: The sophomore finished fourth in the Franklin Regional in the discus and 10th in the shot put.

Seena Greiwe, Columbus East: The senior finished sixth in the Franklin Regional in the discus.

Grace Hasler, Hauser: The junior finished fifth in the Franklin Regional in the 300 hurdles.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Vivien Crimmins, Elly Wertz. Columbus East: Ashley Allen, Elena Stoughton, Cortney VanLiew. Columbus North: Kirsten Ballard, Sami Heathcote, Kennedy Kerber, Ana Singhal. Jennings County: Alana Daeger, Emma McPeek, Alexis Harsh, Halle Stearns.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.