Catching Up With Olivia O'Keeffe

This past cross country season, Olivia O'Keeffe filled in nicely for the graduation of her sister, two-time state champion Fiona, by winning the individual D1 state title herself and leading Davis to runner-up honors in the team standings. It was not only her first state championship but the first individual cross country victory in her prep career! Following the state meet, O'Keeffe and her Davis teammates repeated their runner-up finish at NXN behind the Fayetteville-Manlius juggernaut. Last spring, O'Keeffe made great strides by recording 2:12.09 and 4:48.66 personal records. 

Looking back at your high school competitions, what race do you feel was a breakthrough race for you?
Looking back, I feel that I've had a few breakout races. The first would probably be Stanford in cross country my sophomore year where I ran 18:00. That was a really big deal to me at the time and made my think that maybe I wasn't half bad at this. A time trial we did just after NXN of 2015 showed me what I might be able to do the same in track. We were trying to break 5 and I ran a 4:56, so that was really exciting. The SJS Masters last track season was a breakout race for me as well. I ran 4:50 that day. Going into the race that was my plan-- I had sort-of "decided" to run precisely that time and I think that showed me how powerful is the mental component of racing. Of course this cross season, States was my breakout race. I wasn't very happy with the rest of my season leading up to it but I felt that I had a performance like that in me. I was really calm going into that race with a concrete plan, and I think that mental component was again really a key factor. That race showed me that I can be successful in distances longer than the 1600 and I think sets the stage for me for cross next year. 

You finished in third place last year at the state meet 1600m. What do you remember about that race?
The main thing I remember from the state 1600m was just being completely scared. My season goal was to make it to state, but the intimidation of stepping into that stadium for the first time is very real. I felt pretty fortunate with how the race played out-- the slower first two laps (2:30) helped me out against more experienced long distance girls, as I was able to use my speed to kick. I guess in that race I felt the same way when I crossed the line that I did this year in cross at states. It just felt so surreal to me that I finished third but it was such an exciting race and definitely gave me a taste of my potential.

Read the full Q&A on CA MileSplit!