Owen Likins

Cross country runner prepares for state meet


Bailey Groom

Photo Illustration. Senior Owen Likins has earned recognition for achievements in cross country, track, and swim throughout his high school athletic career.

Story by Doug Kyles, Staff Writer

When did you start running? What in your life made you start cross country and track?

I got into running in elementary school. I did the “Kids Run the Line” event and enjoyed it. So then I signed up for a 5K with my dad. It’s a funny story we tell because I ended up beating my dad in our first 5K ever, and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a runner. I got involved in track and cross country in middle school, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

What was your motivation to stick with running?

The motivation behind it has always been I loved it from the second I started. My mom would always ask me, “Owen, why do you run?” I would always just think about how good [competing] makes me feel.

What achievements have you made in cross country so far and how far have you advanced in the past?

I’ve advanced to the state cross country meet. If I qualify, hopefully, this will be my third year in a row to go to state in cross country. I just won district for the third time. Last year, I was sixth at regionals. On the track side of things, I’ve been regional champion twice. I won the 1600 meter and 800 meter this year. Last year was the first time I’ve qualified for state in track being second in the 100 and fourth in the 1600.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being second in the 800 at state. Either that, or breaking the school record for the mile.

Are you more inclined to cross country or track?

For me, I’ve had more success at the state level on the track side. I’ve always loved track. Cross country is fun, but it has always been track for me. In cross country, you are just going out and running alone. In track, there is no hiding; there is no escaping. When you’re on the track, it gets really competitive and tactical.

What is the most difficult part about racing and training?

I am training at a higher level than most high schoolers because I want to compete at the next level. Having to go to that next level, a lot of times on long runs or workouts you are by yourself. It is tough to motivate yourself when there aren’t people around you. It’s definitely a mental game. When someone passes you, it is hard to not give up and stay strong.

How do you see your chances at state this year?

I feel pretty good about this year. I was six at regionals last year, and you have to be top 10 for state, so I feel pretty solid in the top 10. Also, the runner who won regionals last year I have beat both times this year. The goal for regionals is to win, and for state I’d like to be in the top seven.

How do you prepared for your races mentally and physically?

Mentally, I try to put all the distractions away. I don’t use social media or anything like that the day of a race. The night before, I lay down and visualize the race in my head. Physically, I start my training really early and try to peek around regionals. Then I taper off and rest so I am in good shape for the state meet.

Do you plan on continuing cross country and track in the future?

Yes. I haven’t decided where I will go to college yet. I am taking official visits to colleges often, and hopefully, I’ll be committed in November and be able to sign some time in December.

What separates you from your competition that allows you to consistently do well?

I’ve always had a really strong, competitive drive. That has always been there for me. So, if somebody passes me, I am not going to let that happen. I will compete with them. I think that helps that when some people feel defeated, I just keep pushing. Part of it is my preparation and constant training.

How do you balance school work with athletics?

It’s really tough. They are both really big time investments, so you have to get really good at time management. I have to come in before and after school, and I keep a planner so I don’t forget assignments.

Do you have a favorite sports hero, someone that inspires you?

My favorite runner would be Ryan Hall. He is the American record-holder in the half marathon. He said one of my favorite quotes: “I used to be a runner who happens to be a Christian, and I needed to become a Christian who happens to be a runner.” He has really good priorities and has always been someone I look to for inspiration.

How does being an athlete help you become a better person?

It taught me valuable lessons like sportsmanship and perseverance. I need those things to be mentally strong enough for distance running. Also, it improved my time management.

What is your advice for other athletes on how to improve?

I would say listen to your coaches. They know what they are doing. Other than that, it is all work ethic.