Waynesville hurdler Ariel Okorie grabs three all-state medals

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JEFFERSON CITY — Waynesville Track and Field sophomore Ariel Okorie brought home three all-state medals from the State Track Meet that was held at Lincoln University in Jefferson City on Friday and Saturday. 

On Friday she qualified for the finals in the 100 meter hurdles by finishing second in her preliminary race with a time of 14.79 seconds. Then she qualified in the 300 meter hurdles when she was clocked at 45.25 seconds.


On Saturday, Okorie ran a 15.26 in the 100 hurdles to finish sixth for the second year in a row.


After that she had to do three preliminary jumps for her long jump competition before she ran the 300 hurdles.


She placed fifth in the 300 meter hurdles by running a 45.72.


Then she had to report back to the long jump for the finals. She jumped a 18-00.25 to finish in third place, beating out Kezia Martin from Jefferson City by a quarter of an inch.


The best part, Waynesville coach Mike Rawlings said, is that she will be back again.


“Being only a sophomore, Ariel has two years to build on her four all-state finishes,” Rawlings said.


And she is determined to make her state schedule even more hectic next year.


“I want to go to state for all four of my events next year,” Okorie said. She missed out on qualifying for the high jump this year.


Okorie has always been hyper-competitive and determined to be the best at everything she does.


She started hurdling when she was in seventh grade. She watched the boys’ ninth grade hurdler to see how it was done.


“He was the only one who could do the three-step approach,” Okorie said. “After three days I had a meet. That’s when I started doing my three step. It sort of progressed from there.”


So on Monday of that week three years ago she learned to hurdle. Unbelievably, that Wednesday and Thursday she broke Patton Junior High (which is on Fort Leavenworth in Kansas) track and field’s 100 and 300 meter hurdles record.


She also jumped 5 feet in the high jump that year.


“By the time we left Kansas she had taken six school records,” said her mother, Selina Huggard.


She holds the record for 100 hurdles in Waynesville and is knocking on the door for the 300 hurdles and long jump.


She is also a two-time junior Olympian.


Last year she was number one in the region for the heptathlon, scoring 4,000 points as a 14-year-old, making her 17th in the country in her age group for the heptathlon.

“We’re hoping she places even higher this year,” Huggard said. “She’s gotten stronger and she’s more mature now. Now she’s 15, last year she was competing against 15 and 16 year-olds so now she’s not going to be the underdog in the group because of where her birthday lands.”If she doesn’t, it won’t be because she doesn’t work her tail off in preparation for it.


“She practices three times a day, she sleeps three times a day and has six meals a day,” Huggard said. “She does this six out of seven days of the week. She’s self-driven, I don’t have to get her up to do this.”


Of course, she will be wearing her “lucky” rainbow socks.


“In gymnastics I used to wear monkey socks,” Okorie said. “So it has just continued. They’re just lucky.”


They’re not just lucky. They’ve become her calling card and people have taken notice.


“She’s known for them,” Huggard said. “Every meet we go to she’s wearing them. She went undefeated all the way to state in hurdles. She is the girl who hurdles with the rainbow socks.”


She’s also the sophomore who now has four all-state medals, with more sure to come.

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