Meet the Seawolf: Ivy O’Guinn

It seems UAA freshman Ivy O’Guinn has this whole running thing pretty figured out.

A two-sport athlete running both cross-country and track and field for the Seawolves, it could be said that she has made a decent first impression.

O’Guinn appeared in all seven meets for the ‘Wolves and helped the women’s team take down the GNAC and West Region titles. Individually, she came away with six top-20 finishes, including a season-high 9th place finish at the Hawaii-Pacific Invite back on Sep. 4, 2010.

The rookie also gained Division II All-Academic Cross Country status during the cross-country season, which recognizes individual runners who compile a 3.25 or better grade point average while also placing in the top 50 percent at the NCAA national Championships.

Alright, let’s go ahead and change the classification of her first impression from decent to spectacular.

But perhaps this shouldn’t come as such as shock, given her career at Skyview High School, where she practically filled their trophy case during her years there.

In cross-country, she won the Region III individual title before placing runner-up in the state during her senior year. Track and field saw her capture three state crowns, winning the 800, 1600, and 3,200-meter on top of back-to back Region III titles in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter events.

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But joining the collegiate athletic ranks is a whole new realm in which prior high school success doesn’t always directly translate. Like so many things in college, especially the freshman year, there was certainly a transition period that O’Guinn needed to overcome.

“It was a weird adjustment but it didn’t take that long to figure out that all of us run the same and we’re all around the same speed,” O’Guinn said.

Also, the jumping from cross-country to track and field is anything but a simple change from the trails to the oval.

“It’s different from cross-country because with that we have team goals. With (track and field), I’ve gone from being solely with the team to now being more individual,” O’Guinn said. “It’s a little bit harder.”

Well, even though she says it’s a bit hard, she has sure been making it look easy.

Just two races into the track and field season, O’Guinn broke a UAA record in the 1500-meter with her 4:34.34 time at the Occidental Distance Carnival on Mar. 11.

Apparently she enjoyed it, as she went out and broke another UAA record just a day later for an encore. The record time of 2:12.30 came in the 800-meter at the Northridge Relays on Mar. 12.

Teammate, friend and fellow freshman Susan Bick snatched the 800-meter record just 13 days later with her 2:10.87 time at the Stanford Invite. Nothing but a bit more healthy competition between O’Guinn and Bick- the person who she says makes her better by just training together.

“I really look up to Susan and the two of us are like the underdogs as freshmen,” O’Guinn said. “The two of us work so well together and we’re back and forth all the time. I enjoy running with her because we push each other.”

The two new records not only put O’Guinn’s name in the UAA history books, (even if temporary in the 800), but also provisionally qualified her for the NCAA National Championships, which came as a bit of a surprise to the Soldotna native.

“It really shocked me. As a freshman, I wasn’t expecting to provisionally qualify for Nationals. I wasn’t even expecting to go to Nationals,” O’Guinn said. “To qualify my second race in was really a big thing for me and gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”

Getting a provisional qualification doesn’t automatically send a runner to Nationals though. What it does do is puts the athlete receiving the provisional in a good spot to make the Nationals as one of the top times in the country. It also allows that runner to focus on bettering those times and work towards gaining an automatic qualifying time set by the NCAA.

O’Guinn is very aware of this fact and has zeroed in on her goal of making sure she will be in Turlock, California come May 26-28 for Nationals.

“Right now I’m working toward lowering those times to set myself up in a better ranking for Nationals and, hopefully, ensure my place to go to Nationals.”

Something tells us she won’t have any problems figuring that one out either, and will soon be making her second NCAA National Championships appearance in her first year as a Seawolf.

The Northern Light: Most memorable moment in your athletic career so far?
Ivy O’Guinn: I’d have to say in cross-country this year when we won the conference.

TNL: Most embarrassing?
IO: In my first race of my senior year I ran in Nikiski. It was very hot that day and I didn’t drink a lot of water and I decided to go really hard during my race. I had about a (kilometer) left and was at least three minutes ahead of everyone else and…I passed out. Yeah, disqualified.

TNL: I’m a runner, but I’m even better at…?
IO: Fishing, I’m good at commercial fishing

TNL: Favorite meal?
IO: I really like mac and cheese

TNL: Favorite TV show?
IO: Glee

TNL: What are you listening to on your iPod?
IO: It’s mostly Lupe Fiasco right now and some good beats to dance to

TNL: Guilty pleasure in life?
IO: Cheesecake…it’s been hard to give up

TNL: When I’m not at a meet or practicing, I’m…?
IO: Probably studying

TNL: Favorite Athlete? Why?
IO: Steve Prefontaine, he is phenomenal

TNL: Celebrity crush?
IO: James Franco

TNL: Favorite sport to play other than Track and Field?
IO: Basketball

TNL: And to watch?
IO: Basketball, I just love it and it’s great

TNL: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who and why?
IO: Lady Gaga, I think it would be really fun to live her life for a day.