Cross-country: Olivia Jarvis juggles being team mom, Vulcans’ leading lady

  • UHH photo In 10 college races, sophomore Olivia Jarvis has been UH-Hilo's top runner nine times.

They ran like they always do, noticed something different and started asking questions.

“Last year it was super humid and we all finished super drenched,” UHH sophomore Olivia Jarvis recalled. “The Oahu schools were going crazy and like, ‘What is this?”

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The annual UH Hilo Cross Country Invitational returns Saturday morning at Naniloa Golf Course, where Jarvis probably won’t need much luck to find her preferred weather conditions

“I don’t think we’d mind if it rained or drizzled,” she said. “That gives us the advantage all the time.”

UHH races Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific at 7:30 a.m in a 6K, the distance of the upcoming Pacific West Championships, and a men’s 8K featuring Chaminade and HPU follows at 8:15 a.m.

The Vulcans woke up Thursday morning and were greeted by a steady rain and poor visibility for their 6 a.m. practice run, and Jarvis had to remind some of her freshmen teammates that, yes, they still had to practice.

“It wasn’t muddy (at Naniloa),” she said, “just big puddles. We’re prepared to run in anything.”

Since arriving from Oceanside Calif., Jarvis, who has three younger sisters, has become a team mom and the leader of the pack for the Vuls in more ways than one.

“Whenever we go out with my friends, I bring the sunscreen, the snacks, the water, I feel like that’s the mom thing to do,” said Jarvis, an environmental science major and PacWest Scholar Athlete.

In high school, she participated in cross-country, basketball and ran track, where she focuses mostly on longer distances such as the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

“I did the 800 once,” she said, “and my coach was like, “Oh, we’ll keep you in the 2-mile.”

In 5K and 6Ks in college, Jarvis has been the Vulcans’ top runner in nine of 10 races.

“I just took everyone under my wing,” she said of last season. “Once I figured out the routine of things I kind of brought everyone along.”

That also means she runs with a fair amount of conflict. Jarvis is expected to lead the way and run fast, all the while hoping her teammates can keep up.

“At the beginning of the season I struggled with it,” she said. “It’s mental. I knew I could go, but we really want to focus on the pack and having five run together. That’s how you win, that how you score points.

“It’s very much a mental race. We can all physically do it. We’ve all done the training, but it’s letting go of the hurt and just running. It’s a sacrifice. Someone has to slow down and someone has to speed up.”

As the saying goes: lead and they will follow.

“My coaches (Jaime Guerpo and assistant Alan Ryan) always tell me to run your race, and they will come with you,” she said. “It’s happening. They are getting closer.”

Freshman Emma Heidelmeier has finished second among UHH runners in its past two races and was third in the two others, freshman Sabina Boo-Rivera, a Keaau High alum, was second behind Jarvis once, as was sophomore Makena Morris.

Jarvis’ personal best in a 5K (19 minutes flat) actually came in high school on a course she knew like the back of her hand, and her college-best (19:45) came last season. In her first 6K at Naniloa last year Jarvis was third in 24:51, then she was 39th at the PacWest championships, where her 24:01 was the best for a Vulcans runner at the PacWest finals since they began running 6K distance.

“I definitely want to be at 24:01, maybe in the 23s (Saturday),” Jarvis said.

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Of course, if she goes out Saturday morning and blisters the field and leaves her teammates behind, Guerpo and Ryan probably won’t mind.

“No one from (UHH) has ever won our race, so if I somehow magically did, that would be fun,” Jarvis said.

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