In a state in which middle-distance is king, Solon's Olivia Howell just capped off a remarkable series of achievements. The senior won her third straight D1 state championship in the 1600.
It has been quite the career for Howell who closed her final high school track campaign this past Saturday with victories in the 1600 (4:45.25) and 800 (2:08.60). She went undefeated in seven 800 races and nine 1600 races, losing only once this year in an April 6th 3200 in which she finished second in 10:53.82 - the earliest-run mark among the top 18 performers in the final statewide rankings in the event.
Howell's 4:45.25 1600 is a US No. 11 mark, but is still a full two seconds off her personal best of 4:43.25. That clocking came during her first state title win in the event in 2017, as a sophomore. It also sits as an OH No. 2 all-time behind only World Bronze Medalist and Olympian Emily Infeld's 4:41.37 from 2007. Even this year's 4:45.25 would still make her the fourth fastest performer in state history.
"Although I didn't achieve [my goal of breaking the state record in the 1600], I'm still just overwhelmingly happy that I got a chance to be a state champ for a third time in a row," Howell said.
Add this gold to the two she won in the past two years. That's right, a three-peat in the 1600 in Ohio's most competitive division. The list of runners who haven't been able to unseat Howell is a proverbial who's who of Ohio distance running over the past three seasons, including, but not limited to: Rebecca Craddock (Brunswick), Allison Guagenti (Olentangy Orange), Felicia Pasadyn (Brunswick), Samantha Bush (Turpin), Lindsay Stull (Hilliard Davidson), Emma Bucher (Centerville), and Juliette Keller (Medina).
Craddock, a standout at the University of Illinois now, is Ohio's third best performer in state history, but the only one in the top 10 (according to our database) that did not finish first with their time. Her 4:44.60 was just behind Howell's career best 4:43.25.
Howell was hardly finished on Saturday after her 1600, though. This was the year that she went for the 800, as well.
After opting for the 1600 and 3200 in 2018 (she finished fourth in the 3200), and going for the 1600 only in 2017, Howell bumped up to the half mile and showcased her incredible middle distance talent on the biggest stage. When the dust had cleared, four girls had broken 2:10, with one more at 2:10.52, but it was Howell at 2:08.60 who had come out on top.
"I had to focus on not settling for what I did in the mile, but really pushing myself in the 800 because it was my last high school race."
A personal best, an Ohio No. 1 by .05 seconds, an Ohio No. 9 all-time, and a current US No. 23, it's safe to say that was a solid mark for the senior.
Howell finishes her career with five state championships indoor and outdoor, four more all-state medals, and another four all-state medals in cross country, including three top five finishes and a runner-up finish in her career best 5K 17:32.50 in 2017. Quietly, but forcefully, she put together one of the most prolific careers for a female distance runner in the state of Ohio.