Illinois Year in Review: Female athlete of the year Olivia Howell –

Why she’s athlete of the year

Olivia Howell was new to the 1,500-meter race a year ago. Figuring out race tactics throughout the season before establishing herself as one of the top middle-distance runners in the Big Ten — and nationally. Nothing changed a season later. Howell won another Big Ten indoor mile championship and claimed first-team All-America honors after a fifth-place finish at the NCAA indoor championship. Then came another 1,500 Big Ten outdoor title and second-team All-America honors at the NCAA outdoor championship. That doesn’t even include Howell’s cross-country season, in which she wound up one of Illinois’ top runners in the fall.

What they’re saying

“Olivia continues to bring high-level consistency. This year did not come without its challenges for her, but she remained steadfast and focused on her goals. We are excited for what the future holds and are proud of all that she has accomplished.” — Illinois cross country coach/assistant track coach Sarah Haveman

“From a maturity standpoint, Olivia has grown quite a bit. She made a huge jump this year from last year. The way she carries herself at practice, she’s gotten more mature showing up on workout day ready to take care of business. The maturity also speaks to how she runs her races on the championship level. I think you’ve got to be ready for anything and everything (in the 1,500). Having been in enough 1,500 races, I think she’s realized how many types of ways these races can unfold and what’s required of her to close well and win in those different scenarios. That’s definitely something I’ve seen a strong trend of in her this year.” — Illinois All-American Jon Davis

Olivia has a curiosity about her that doesn’t allow for complacency. Olivia has broadened her role as a teammate and leader within the program without a doubt. She has expanded her skill set on the track and in racing, and has also developed in her ability to train at a high level and with more consistency than ever. Her desire to expand in these roles is something that has grown over the years, and she insists on making a lasting impact at Illinois far greater than just the points she scores.” — Illinois assistant track and cross-country coach Nolan Fife

Honor Roll: The News-Gazette’s Illinois Female Athletes of the Year

Year Athlete Sport

2022 Olivia Howell Track and field

2021 Olivia Howell Track and field

2020 Jacqueline Quade Volleyball

2019 Jordyn Poulter Volleyball

2018 Jordyn Poulter Volleyball

2017 Nicole Evans Softball

2016 Jocelynn Birks Volleyball

2015 Stephanie Richartz Track and field

2014 Jannelle Flaws Soccer

2013 Ashley Spencer Track and field

2012 Vanessa DiBernardo Soccer

2011 Vanessa DiBernardo Soccer

2010 Angela Bizzarri XC/track and field

2009 Angela Bizzarri XC/track and field

2008 Angelena Mexicano Softball

2007 Yvonne Mensah Track and field

2006 Jenna Hall Softball

2005 Tara Hurless Soccer

2004 Lisa Argabright Volleyball

2003 Perdita Felicien Track and field

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected], and …….


Illinois Athletics

Why she’s athlete of the year

Olivia Howell was new to the 1,500-meter race a year ago. Figurin…….

Illinois Athletics

Why she’s athlete of the year

Olivia Howell was new to the 1,500-meter race a year ago. Figurin…….

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