Oler’s hard work and dedication pays off

Being a champion takes self discipline and focus.

But for Mohawk 800 runner Destini Oler, she mixed those two things with a concern for the welfare of others — specifically her parents and her coach, Brock Cleveland.

When Oler completed the first lap of Saturday’s Division III girls 800 at the OHSAA Track and Field Championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the senior had a slight lead.

And that just wasn’t going to do.

Because as her teammates, friends and family cheered her on, Oler was overcome with a single, altruistic thought.

“My mentality in my head was ‘I need to keep going. If I don’t keep going, this is going to be really scary,'” she said. “‘I don’t want to put my coach or myself in this kind of situation, or my parents, screaming their heads off, because they’re nervous for me.'”

When told of his runner’s remark, Cleveland shrugged it off.

“She probably just didn’t want me to get any more gray hairs,” Cleveland said. “I do appreciate her looking out for me, but this is all about her.”

Oler made it all about her by taking over in the second lap and winning the race comfortably in 2:15.1, a personal record.

She became the first Mohawk champion since Kari Weimerskirch in 2007.

“I think this is Mohawk’s first running champion, ever, so it’s really, really cool,” Cleveland said, “It’s been a long drought for us to get somebody on top, but it feels really dang good, I can tell you that.”

In her post-race interview, the Ashland-bound senior said she hoped that what she accomplished could impact other Mohawk runners. The senior was part of a pair of relays at this weekend’s meet — the 4×4 and the 4×8. Neither made podium. There was her teammate, freshman Taeylor Mullholand, who came up big in the high jump, placing third Friday.

Oler knows about improvement. She was seventh in the 800 last season and didn’t make podium in her sophomore year.

And she said if she can go from there to a championship, her teammates can, too.

“It feels really great. I’ve left my mark,” Oler said. “And I’m leaving it for a long time, and hopefully it stays there for a while. And it teaches the freshman that are here, that have run yesterday that, hey, they can do this too.”

Cleveland said Oler is a good role model for younger runners.

“She does things the right way,” he said. “She works her tail off in practice. She kind of leads by example, and I think the underclassmen can take that and use it. Use this experience as motivation to come back here and do big things.”

Like excite, but don’t terrify.

Oler showed everyone how it’s done.

Zach Baker is the sports editor for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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