Watt leads on the track, inspires team to succeed

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Junior middle distance runner Olivia Watt competes on March 14 at the Wildcat Invitational. Photo courtesy of Luke Reid

When junior distance runner Olivia Watt competes for Chico State, her energy can only be described as electric.

The Morro Bay High School product has made as big of an impact on the track as she has off it.

“If you’re in her life, then chances are she’s impacted it in a positive way,” said Julie Finn, a sophomore teammate. “She’s one of the biggest driving forces of the support system on our team.”

Watt provides positive energy and support for the team every day, said Robert Nooney, head coach.

“My teammates are my family,” Watt said. “They mean the world to me.”

Watt’s support for her teammates was displayed on April 11 at University Stadium when she and senior distance runner Bailey Henshaw competed in the 800-meter.

Going into the race, Watt held the record for the fastest 800-meter time in Chico State’s history.

Both athletes pushed each other until the end when Henshaw edged out Watt for first place as her time broke Watt’s previous record.

“If you see how Olivia handled that, she was very excited that her teammate Bailey was a new record holder and that she (Olivia) beat her own personal record,” Nooney said. “It’s not easy to do because Bailey beat Olivia’s old record, to have all those emotions right there. (Olivia’s) just a class act.”

Watt said it was the most emotional she’s ever felt after a race.

“I’m only as successful as my teammates are,” Watt said. “Records are meant to be broken, and I’m so incredibly proud of her.”

On the track, Watt leads by example. This year, she has run the second fastest 800-meter in school history with a personal best of 2:10:27.

She is also in the top two on the team for fastest races in three different events this year: second in the 800-meter, first in the 1500-meter and second in the 5,000-meter.

“I had absolutely no idea that I would be where I am today,” Watt said, “and I have so many people to thank for that.”

Watt, who also runs cross-country in the fall, is coming off one of her best seasons yet in 2014. She placed third in the 800-meter, qualified for nationals and was a U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic athlete.

“She’s really the poster athlete for Chico State track and field,” Nooney said.

She also ran the third-fastest 1,500-meter race in Chico State history to get her name into the record books in two different events, running a 4:28:03.

“Even if she wasn’t a school record holder or national qualifier, she would still be great for our program,” Nooney said, “She’s the best we’ve had athletically and has all the other attributes qualities that makes Chico State great. That’s Olivia Watt.”

Nick Martinez-Esquibel can be reached at [email protected] or @THENickMartinez on Twitter.