Freshman garners two state berths
On March 3, just a short two months ago, Mineola freshman Olivia Hughes ran her first 800-meter race. Thursday Hughes will compete at the Texas track and field championships. That is hard to believe, …
Freshman garners two state berths
On March 3, just a short two months ago, Mineola freshman Olivia Hughes ran her first 800-meter race. Thursday Hughes will compete at the Texas track and field championships. That is hard to believe, but true.
As Hughes explains it, she has always been a relay runner. It was the persistence of Mineola track coach Davon Murphree which eventually led to connecting her with one of the toughest races in track and field – the 800.
That first race was at the Bullard Relays and set a benchmark on which Hughes has based her season. In typical Mineola athletics fashion, goals were set at each subsequent meet, and Hughes continued improving with every race.
She set the school record in the event at the area meet. Last week she claimed the blue ribbon at the regionals, with a 2:18.26 time, and received her invitation to the state championships.
Mineola fans are already familiar with Olivia Hughes. The talented athlete made huge contributions to the Lady Jackets volleyball squad and was a staple of the cross-country team. She also plays club volleyball during track season.
“I love to run and compete and win,” stated Hughes. Her outgoing, open and effervescent nature disguises an intense desire to compete.
That is evident in her description of collecting information on the field as she runs the two laps of the 800. She explains that she uses all information available from scouting reports on the other competitors to everything within earshot during the race to build a mental picture of how the field is running. She then adjusts her race accordingly.
The 800 is one of the most difficult races in all of sports. It necessitates speed, endurance, strength and strategy.
“I can block all the pain out during the race,” Hughes stated. She uses a large dose of positive reinforcement, excellent conditioning, and awareness to carry her through the two laps at a near dead sprint.
She described, “The butterflies at the start give me a boost, and I am able to carry that through the first lap. It is the third 200-meter stretch which is the most difficult for me. I just have to talk my way through it. Once I get to the final 200-meters I know I can finish strong and the adrenalin kicks back in.”
In additional to impactful coaching and supportive teammates, she admits that two major influences in her racing are the support of her father, Chris Hughes, and prayer. Hughes summarized the mantra which her father has taught her: “to achieve you must believe.” She also described the personal goal-setting which she and her father use.
The second influence is moments spent in prayer before a race. “I need a little quiet time just before they call the race, to calm myself down, breathe, and pray,” she said.
That prayer, Hughes offered, is a prayer for strength, for safety and a request that the race be given to someone who truly deserves it. The maturity of that thought is remarkable.
At the state finals, Hughes will be offering that prayer before the 800-meter run and before the 4x400-meter relay. She will be joined by teammates Carmen Carrasco, Shylah Kratzmeyer and Kozbie Riley as the girls relay represents the second year in a row that a Mineola team competed in Austin.
The gifted young runner acknowledges that running will be a major part of her life in the long term. But now, her focus is on Austin.