After capturing Lakewood Ranch High’s first Class 3 individual cross-country state championship in 2011, Olivia Ortiz returned to the track this past spring hoping to pick up where she left off last season.
Ortiz went on to win district and regional championships in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs and helped anchor the Lady Mustangs 3200 relay to district and regional championships as well.
On May 4, Ortiz hit the track for the final time this year and would ultimately face the toughest test of her storied-running career.
After injuring her left leg prior to the regional meet, Ortiz thought about not competing in the state meet. But she quickly pushed that notion aside. Ortiz went on to run the second leg of the 3200 relay, helping lead the Lady Mustangs to a Class 3A state championship.
Ortiz followed up her relay state championship with a runner-up finish in the mile before approaching the starting line for the two-mile run — her signature event. But as she made her final push toward the finish line with only 50 meters to go, Ortiz heard a loud pop.
Ortiz fell to the track and X-rays later revealed she had broken her femur. She underwent surgery and spent the summer undergoing rehabilitation.
This fall, Ortiz was forced to forgo her senior cross-country season, but there was never any doubt in her mind that she would be back again one day.
Ortiz’s strength and determination paid off last month when she verbally committed to run for the University of Alabama next year.
Now with her bone fully healed, Ortiz has begun running again in the hopes of possibly returning to the track this spring.