Olivia Rassel is only a junior.
But already, she is the most accomplished sprinter in the history of the Center Grove High School girls track and field team.
She and the Trojans are confident the best is yet to come.
The school-record holder in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, which she has broken multiple times, begins her postseason journey today at the Franklin Sectional.
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Rassel’s 12.14-second time in the 100 took place at the 2014 Johnson County Meet at the same facility she’s scheduled to run at today. Last season she lowered the school standard in the 200 with a 25.39 at the IHSAA State Finals at Indiana University.
She finished 14th at state in the 100 as a sophomore in a time of 12.50 and 12th in the 200 in 25.57. Her record time came in a preliminary heat.
Improving upon the first half of her varsity career hasn’t been easy.
Nonetheless, Rassel, who has been dealing with pain in her shins much of the season, won both races at the Johnson County Meet in April with times of 12.78 and 26.04.
“I still think I’m getting where I need to be,” Rassel said.
Last season Rassel flourished at sectional, winning both sprints and helping Center Grove to blue ribbons in the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.
In the latter event she helped the 2014 relay secure a fourth-place finish at state in a time of 3:54.86. As a sophomore the Trojans placed ninth at state in 3:59.06.
Returning to the awards podium isn’t Rassel’s lone motivation.
“At this point for me I really want to run in college. And I would really love to run Division I,” she said. “I know I already have the times to do that, but I want to have my options as open as they possibly can be. If I want to get looks from larger schools, that’s what’s really pushing me right now.
“I want to be able to choose a school that I really want to go to, not somewhere just to run, but somewhere that I love the school, the academics and the campus.”
Rassel is every bit the star in the classroom, with a 4.3 grade-point average. A possible college major is chemistry.
“Next year I’m taking an organic chemistry class, and I’m in AP chem this year. It’s tough. I’m not sure I want to study it that hardcore in college, but I do like it,” Rassel said.
Center Grove girls track coach Wes Dodson understands Rassel placed herself in a difficult position having made such a tremendous impact as a ninth-grader.
“Olivia was a little frustrated at the start of the year, for sure. She just wasn’t running quite as fast, but things are progressing pretty well,” Dodson said. “We have two weeks until we get (to state), so there’s that chance to get down to where we need to be.”
Rassel will again take part in all four events today at sectional.
Beyond that, Dodson will wait and see.
Her four specialties are spread out enough to ensure proper rest. The lone area it gets tricky is Rassel running the 200 and then taking part in the 4×400 relay approximately a half-hour later.
“Olivia is pretty consistent as a sprinter, but on the other hand I also think she’s pretty competitive. It doesn’t seem like you can do a lot from the blocks to the finish,” Dodson said.
“But if she’s got somebody there she can find an extra gear.”
Top sprinters for Center Grove girls track in the 100- and 200-meter dashes:
1. Olivia Rassel (2014), 12.14
2. Erika Dobbs (2006), 12.47
3. Taylor Cates (2007), 12.52
4. Erin Rosebrough (2013), 12.65
5. Leigh Cummings (2012), 12.90
1. Olivia Rassel (2015), 25.39
2. Nicole Marlin (1995), 25.44
3. Erika Dobbs (2006), 25.90
4. Tori Long (2015), 26.41
5. Leigh Cummings (2010), 26.54