Olivia Thurston, by her own admission, was “worked up” heading into her first event at the Class B track and field state championship meet, the 100-meter hurdles.

“I was seeded second,” she said. “I was kind of nervous and a little shaken up a bit. I didn’t really know what to do so before the race I went to my coach (Ian Wilson) and he said, ‘go get her.’ “

And that’s just what Thurston did, edging out two teammates and the top seed Doe Leckie of Lake Region to win the event.

“I really wanted to beat her,” Thurston said. “I think being behind kind of helped. It felt really good.”

Thurston went on to win the 300 hurdles and anchor the victorious 4×400 relay team to help Waterville win its fifth consecutive Class B state championship. Thurston also won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship meet.

For her accomplishments this season, Thurston is the Morning Sentinel Girls Track Athlete of the Year. Waterville teammate Bethanie Brown and Erzsie Nagy of Lawrence were also considered.

“I had a good indoor season and I really wanted to keep that effort up,” Thurston said. “Winning the title was great. It was hard because we knew we were ahead of a lot of the other teams. But we all decided to go out strong at the meet. We really wanted it.”

Added Wilson: “Olivia is a relentless competitor. She prepared really well for the spring season. She really embraces challenges. Olivia knew she was a crucial part of our chances to win a state title as a team. It was a really nice to see her perform well on a big stage, but it wasn’t easy.”

Indeed, Thurston coped with a nagging knee injury early and then struggled with proper form in the 300 hurdles.

“In the 300 hurdles I was trying to work on the lead leg,” Thurston said. My strong lead leg is the left leg and I kept going over the hurdles on the right one. The whole season I was trying to get on my comfortable lead leg. I don’t know why. I think it was my stride.”

Wilson acknowledged they spent ample time trying to work on Thurston’s form.

“She kept using her right leg as her lead leg,” Wilson said. “It’s where her rhythm put her. But we didn’t dare make any radical changes because we thought it would iron itself out, and it never did. But Olivia adapted and did the best she could.”

The best she could was winning both hurdle events at the state meet. She ran the 100 hurdles in 15.23 and the 300 hurdles in 45.49.

“At the state meet I tried to switch it, and on the first hurdle I did,” Thurston said. “But then I went back to the right leg. I just pushed as hard as I could. Ian didn’t want me going out of my comfort zone, so I just went as hard as I could.”

Thurston and the Purple Panthers entered the season with high expectations. They were expected to win, right from the get-go, and they lived up to the billing.

Waterville crushed the field at the Class B state meet, scoring 145.5 points. York was second with 63.

“We had a point goal of 144,” Thurston said. “If we got that, we knew we would have a great meet.”

Added Wilson: “In big meets pressure is a privilege. When you are under a lot of pressure it means you are good. It’s a privilege to have that pressure on your shoulders. And for Olivia, she is just a focused kid. She doesn’t let stuff get to her.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]


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