Fenwick’s Olivia Ryan doesn’t like to slow down for anything.
The three-sport athlete from Western Springs is constantly on the go, which suits her just fine. But late last winter, as she was wrapping up her basketball season and preparing for track, Ryan started feeling run down.
“I was really tired all the time, falling asleep at the table doing my homework,” said Ryan, now a junior. “I had a bunch of stuff checked and I had (mononucleosis). I probably had it for a month or so before I actually got diagnosed.
“For mono, you just kind of have to wait it out. I think it was a fast recovery but I missed two weeks of track and it was definitely a setback.”
Ryan made the most of a shortened season by placing sixth in the 1,600 at the Class 2A state meet in 5 minutes, 12.84 seconds.
Over the summer she competed at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C., July 28. Running in the age 15-16 bracket, she took seventh in the 1,500 with a time of 4:50 to earn all-American honors.
Now, Ryan has her laser-like focus fixed on the cross country season. She had a phenomenal sophomore campaign where she took fifth in the Class 3A state meet in 16:43 and she’s looking for even better things in 2013.
“I would definitely like to win a state title,” Ryan said. “I don’t know if it would happen this year because (Glenbard West senior Maddie Perez) is still running and her time last year was a 16:02. Hopefully I can compete for it.”
One of Ryan’s main goals is making sure she has a lot of company in Peoria on Nov. 9.
“I’d like to (get a personal record) at state but more importantly I’d like to have the team make it down,” she said. “It would be a lot of fun for all of us to be down there. We have five runners from our top seven returning and we had a really strong freshman class. So I definitely think we have a chance as a team.”
Friars’ coach Michael Collins has been thrilled with Ryan’s progress. Her time at state was a more than a minute improvement from her freshman season.
“She’s definitely not peaking anytime soon,” Collins said. “She’s an athlete; that’s the only way you can put it.”
Collins will be careful with Ryan early in the season, given how hard she worked during the summer.
“She runs track over the summer so we take that into account,” Collins said. “We may give her some rest early to freshen up her legs before we get into the big meets this season.”
Good luck trying to slow her down.
LOOK OUT FOR ...
Briana Daley, Fenwick
The senior from Oak Park is an important piece in the Friars’ state hopes and is poised to take another step forward. She wasn’t 100-percent healthy a year ago and still placed 49th at state with a time of 17:36.
Daley spent the offseason training with Mike Durkin, a two-time Olympian in the 1,500 who also trained Jim Spivey.
“She was a bit injured at the beginning of last season but she’s 100 percent now,” Collins said. “We put her through tough workouts and push her a little more each time. She’s a great kid.”
Katie Hamor, Lyons
The Lions feature a solid pack of top runners and coach Stetson Steele expects big things from Hamor, a junior who took 10th in last year’s WSC Silver Meet in 18:47.90.
“I think there’s certain kids that just have natural running talent and that fits her to a T,” Steele said. “She’s done the work this summer to take her to the next level.”
Gianna Levato, Nazareth
The sophomore from Willow Springs is set up for a big season. While Levato was inexperienced last year, she had enough raw talent to take 78th at the Class 2A state meet (18:41).
“This summer she has been super-focused and is training real hard, which should lead to a much better season for her, which is saying a lot because she did qualify for the state meet,” Roadrunners’ head coach Joe Wejman said. “The expectations will certainly be higher, but our team will be better and that will only push her to higher level.”
Becca Marcotte, Hinsdale Central
Marcotte is coming off a junior season where she took 83rd at state with a time of 17:57. She’s had some health problems in the past but is ready to go this fall.
“We’ve finally gotten her iron deficiency issues under control and she is healthy, fit and strong,” Red Devils’ coach Mark McCabe said. “Becca is a special young woman and athlete in every way who not only excels as an athlete but as a young woman of good character.”
Erin Schrobilgen, OPRF
It’s safe to say Schrobilgen has running in her DNA. Her older brother, Malachy, took third in the State Meet in 2011 and now competes for Wisconsin. Erin, a senior who also plays soccer in the spring, posted a solid campaign last year, taking 57th at State with a time of 17:42.