River's Olivia Vitou’s fits the definition of "freshman
phenom," as she won four events during district track action
at Midview. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
Vitou takes home four firsts in district meet
By Matt Pawlikowski
Published May 23, 2007
Vitou may only be a freshman, but already she is in a class by herself.
Not only liked by teammates, she’s a true ambassador to the sport
of track and field and respected among her peers.
Before each race or field event, you can hear Vitou
wishing opponents good luck, and even after a race, whether she’s
won or come in third, which this year has been far and between,
she’s telling her colleagues they did a nice job.
It’s something you don’t hear about much anymore,
as competition today seems to bring out the worst in people. Asked
about it, Vitou just laughs.
“I’m a really competitive person,’’ Vitou said. “But
I think the support I have from my family is a big reason behind
that. We’re pretty close-knit.”
That support includes her mother and father, along
with five brothers and sisters.
Don’t get the wrong picture here. While Vitou brings
a touch of class to the sport before all her events, when she’s
down in the blocks or ready to take an exchange in a relay she’s
all business, and wants to cross the finish line first.
“Track is so competitive, and everyone says how can
you run for fun,’’ said Vitou. “I’ve talked to Brittany Towner about
it, and she agreed if it wasn’t going well I’m not sure I’d like
it, but it grows on you, and I’m a really competitive person.”
Thus far, Vitou hasn’t had to worry about it not going
well. Last week she joined an elite group of athletes who can claim
four firsts in a district competition, as she won the 100, 200,
long jump and was the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay.
“I was hoping I could win the 100, but I didn’t expect
to win all four,’’ said a modest Vitou. “I like the 100 best, because
it’s short and I’m fast. I was just hoping to beat Rachel Doughty
from Bay, but it was nice to win all of them and to get points for
Vitou said she was disappointed in her winning jump
in the long jump competition. Although it was good enough to win,
she thought she had a 17-4 leap, but the officials ruled it was
a foul, even though it was apparent she had hit before the board.
After a heated discussion with officials by her coaches, they stood
firm, but just like a week ago, when she false started in the 100
meters at the conference meet, she didn’t let it faze her.
“I don’t let things get to me, and knowing everyone
is so supportive, I just clear it out of my head,’’ she said. ‘’So
it’s just a little thing. I’m more excited about the fact that my
teammate Ashley Rucker took second. It was nice to go 1-2 in the
As for how she got an interest in the sport, Vitou
said she owes it to her family. Her dad was a coach at St. Bernadette’s
from the time she was in kindergarten to sixth grade, and her older
brother and sister also ran.
“I always knew I was fast,’’ Vitou said. “But I’m
kind of surprised with how well I’m doing, and how far we’re getting
as a team. I love getting individual points, but I love being on
the relay team. It’s so fun, us warming up, and the things we do
The team aspect is another thing that sets her apart
from many athletes out there today. She’d rather talk about how
her teammates, such as good friend Towner are doing than herself,
which is one reason her coach Julie Achladis thinks so highly of
“She’s a great athlete, and does what she is told,’’
said Achladis. “But she’s just a great person.”
What Vitou has done as a freshman already should come
as no surprise. In middle school, she broke five records, including
the 100, 200, 400, long jump, and 4x100 relay team. Already she
has set two new high school records with her 12.3 in the 100 meters
and leap of 17-4 in long jump. She’s also close in the 200, and
the way the 4x400 has been shaving time off the past few weeks,
could be part of a new one there.
Vitou has clocked splits for her relay in the low
60’s. While she ran a 60.1 in eighth grade, she said that is Maureen’s
(Kessler) race, and that she only likes the short races.
Asked what her goals are the remainder of the season,
Vitou talked only about regional action, which takes place this
“Me and Brittany have been such good friends since
sixth grade that it would be nice for both of us to do well in regional,
so we both could make it to state,’’ she said. “I just really want
to do my best, and help the team in anyway I can.”