STATE TRACK: Bowman County runner Erika Olson aims for sweet finishThere’s no doubt that every athlete on the Bowman County track and field team wants to be like senior Erika Olson.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
There’s no doubt that every athlete on the Bowman County track and field team wants to be like senior Erika Olson.
The senior will step on the track for the final time in her high school career at the Class B state track and field meet today at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
“It just kind of hit that this is really the last meet, I’m just going to make the most of it and give every race all I got,” Olson said.
Olson leads a group of primarily freshman into the state meet and head coach Jon Jahner can’t think of anyone else he would like to lead his girls.
“I don’t have to worry a lot about that stuff because she’s got the respect of the younger girls,” Jahner said. “Day after day they just learn from her. We hope that gets passed down.”
This year will be a little different for Olson. She qualified in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters. In the past, she’s only run the 200 and 400 at the state meet, but this time around she’ll be competing in the 100 and 800.
Jahner said jokingly that if Olson was given the chance to run the 1,600 and 3,200 she would.
“She’d be solid in the mile and two mile if we let her,” he said with a laugh. “She’s just that kind of kid.”
Olson’s fastest time in the 100 is 12.6 seconds, which is the fifth-fastest time in Class B. She has a time of 2:22.77 in the 800 and won the Southwest Region title in the event.
“I’ve never ran either one at the state track meet before and I’ve only ran a handful of 800s in my life,” Olson said. “We’ll run it and see what happens. I ran a pretty good one (800) this year.”
Since athletes can compete in four events, Olson’s other two will be the 800 and 1,600 relays.
Bowman County freshman Justyce Duffield said it’s amazing experience to learn from Olson.
“She has a very positive attitude all the time,” Duffield said. “She doesn’t let you be negative and always says, ‘We can do it, we can win.’”
The Bowman County senior knows what it’s like being at the state track meet for the first time and hopes to bring a sense of calm to the two relay teams.
“They are a little nervous, because they haven’t had a lot of state experience,” Olson said. “I’m going to tell them to run every race their hardest.”
Olson doesn’t plan to run collegiately. She wants to pay close attention to her studies at North Dakota State University.
Though on the track everyone knows Olson’s name, Jahner said even when she’s not competing she makes a difference for the Bulldogs.
“The off the track stuff that she does for us is just as valuable,” he said. “She is just a phenomenal leader. She’s not a vocal leader that’s going to get in your face and yell at you, but she leads by example.”
That’s where being a leader and Olson’s influence on the younger athletes can pay dividends for Bowman County down the road.
“It’s easy, because you want to be like her, because she’s just a fun person,” Duffield said. “She’s a good role model.”
Olson has been on the winning end of many races this season. However, Jahner said she won’t be judged on the number of medals taken home this weekend.
“I hope she runs hard, I hope she runs her best and I hope she PR’s,” Jahner said. “If she sets personal records in the 100 and the 800, that’s the best we can ask of her.”