MERCERVILLE, Ohio — Olivia Harrison likes to go fast.
The South Gallia track star also is a drag racing enthusiast. She will bring her talent to Marshall University after signing with the Thundering Herd on May 20. Harrison also will be a member of Marshall’s cheerleading squad.
A standout hurdler and sprinter, Harrison often accompanies her father, Trent, to race his 1968 Camaro.
“I go with him every time to help run the weather computer, predict time on the car and prep the car between each pass,” Harrison said. “Soon, I wish to start my own racing journey and race alongside my dad.”
For now, Harrison will settle for racing on a track with hurdles. Despite being just 5 feet tall, she holds the South Gallia record in the 100-meter hurdles. She also runs the 300-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash and occasionally the long jump and high jump.
Harrison graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in pediatrics with the goal of being a pediatrics nurse practitioner.
Harrison chose Marshall over Ohio University and Ohio State.
The recruiting process has been very fun and exciting,” Harrison said. “It has given me many opportunities that I’m very appreciative of. Marshall was such a great fit for me that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
COVID-19 pandemic has limited Harrison’s workouts, especially with school facilities closed, although she ran outside and exercised in her room. Now that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has eased restrictions, Harrison is running more.
She began running track as a seventh grader and tried several events before concentrating on the hurdles.
“The hurdles scared me until I was convinced by my teammates to jump one,” Harrison said. “Ever since, I have completely fallen in love with them.”
Hurdling requires athleticism, of which Harrison has plenty. She has power tumbled for 10 years and cheered for eight. Harrison likes to stay busy, counting gardening, art, painting and quality time with family and friends among activities she enjoys.
While her dad has influenced Harrison’s desire for speed, her mom, Leda, coached her in cheerleading and pushed her to her best.
“She gave me motherly love as well as standards I had to reach,” Harrison said. “Because of that, I was able to accomplish more than just my goals.”
The pandemic took away Harrison’s senior track season, meaning her athletic career ended with basketball season. She thought her cheering days were finished. Then Marshall came along.
“This is an accomplishment that I never imagined would have happened,” Harrison said of the opportunity to cheer in college. “I decided to give it my all and I am ecstatic that Marshall has given me the opportunity to cheer for another year. Cheering has always been such a great part of my life.”