Heights runner has champion attitude to match her times
By Clay Moffitt
October 27, 2006 | RIVER HEIGHTS --
Macinze O'Very may have not got what she wanted in 2006,
but don't expect her to mope around about it.
The 15-year-old River Heights native
led the Mountain Crest girls' cross country team to
its second straight 4A State Championship on Oct. 18
at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City, with a second
place finish as just a sophomore.
But it was a little hard for O'Very
to accept, considering she won the state title as a
freshman and was hoping to be a four-time state champion.
"I think it kind of hit me
more on the bus when we were going home. I got second
instead of first, dang it," O'Very said.
It took a 42.7-second improvement
from a year ago by her primary rival, Orem's Krystal
Harper, to dethrone O'Very in 2006. Last season Harper
took fifth with a time of 19 minutes, 37.9 seconds and
could only watch O'Very take home the title as she finished
the race in 19: 01.0.
But it was Harper's time to shine
in 2006 as she broke the 19-minute mark with a time
of 18:55.2, and O'Very trailed 27.4 seconds behind her
for second place.
In 2005 O'Very won the race by starting
behind Harper and pushing her way to the front before
breaking away from the group and cruising to the victory,
and she planned on using the same strategy on this year.
When she found herself ahead of Harper and the rest
of the pack she was confused about how to adjust her
strategy, but she opted to slow down and let Harper
"Now looking back on it, when
I was in front I probably should have gone faster, but
I slowed down," O'Very said. "I was going to try to
stay with Krystal, see what things she was going to
do, and I should have just sped up... she did what I
did to her last year."
But she was able to find some consolation
in the team victory.
"A lot of us were worried ...
but it turned out really good, and we won, I was surprised,
I must say," O'Very said.
But all of her success hasn't alienated
O'Very from the other kids her age. Much like the "famous"
music producer Bruce Dickinson (played by Christopher
Walken) in the Saturday Night Live skit told
the Blue Oyster Cult, "I put my pants on, just like
the rest of you ... one leg at a time. Except once my
pants are on, I make gold records."
With except of course the exception
she's not the type to bring attention to her own accomplishments.
She is just like any other girl her age in so many ways,
she just happens to be one of the top runners in the
state. For example, in addition to running, she likes
to draw, go bowling with her family and especially loves
corn mazes in the fall.
Her favorite was this a joined side-by-side
corn mazes, but the corn mazes themselves weren't haunted,
but in between the mazes there was a haunted aisle,
similar to a spook alley.
"It was one of the scariest
thing I've ever done in my life," O'Very said.
And the maze was set up with a storyline
leading to the biggest spook of the night from Old Man
River, who stood guarding the exit of the aisle. And
the sight of him scared her and her friends so much
they screamed franticly and made a bolt for the exit.
And in the process one of her friends
fell down and the group trampled over him in the hasty
retreat. It wasn't until they safely reached their destination
that they realized they left something behind in their
"We were like, 'Where'd he
go?' and he was still back there on the ground," O'Very
said. "It was so funny."
But her mother, JoLynn O'Very, said
that is one of the few times you'll hear of Macinze
thinking only about herself. "She's very concerned about
other people and their happiness and success and she's
like that in our family too," JoLynn said about Macinze.
Perhaps one of the simplest examples
of when her concern for others was shown was when she
went to the matches some of her male cross country teammates,
who are also on Mountain Crest's returning state champion
wrestling team in the winter -- even before they shake
hands and the referee blows the whistle.
"I would get nervous before
the meets, I'm like they're going to like go and kill
each other," Macinze said. "I don't understand it too
well, but I do my best to cheer for them."
She might not understand wrestling,
but she's well acquainted with competition, even if
it's something as simple as going bowling with her family
and they usually invite another family to come along.
"You know what, she's always
on when we play against a family who has an older guy
on the team," her mother said. "We always laugh at her
that that's when she wins, when there's some good competition
But Macinze doesn't let her competitiveness
overcome her. One time when her 13-year-old younger
sister Meghan beat her in a swim meet, instead of throwing
a temper tantrum, like a lot of people would be tempted
to do when a younger sibling beats them in a sporting
event, she was the first to congratulate Meghan.
"She jumped out of the water
and grabbed hold of Meghan and kissed her and said,
'You're amazing, good for you,'" her mother said. "You
know that inside she's feeling bad, because that's her
stroke, that's what she's always been best at."
Macinze and Meghan share a strong
bond, which makes her even more anxious for the 2007
cross country season, because she be able to run along
side her sister, who will be a freshman next year.
"That's way exciting for me
and I think she's excited about it too," Macinze said.
"We talk about it sometimes and she's like, 'I have
to live up to your name?' and I'm like, 'Meghan it's
not even a big deal, I have to live up to your's in
swimming, don't worry about it.'"
Family is very important for the
O'Verys, and fitness sports are something the whole
family shares in common. Her father Bruce O'Very was
a collegiate swimmer at the University of Utah, and
he and JoLynn still run marathons every year. All of
the O'Very children run, swim and bicycle, also.
It's those leadership attributes
and a renewed sense of urgency and work ethic that will
make Macinze even more dominant in 2007 and 2008 then
she was her freshman season. In a way, coming in second
may have been the best thing that could have happened
to Macinze at state.
"She (Harper) was supposed
to win it last year and she ended up taking fifth and
Macinze won, and I know that's what motivated her,"
her mother said. "She was like 'That 'Cinze is not going
to beat me again,' and her whole year was spent figuring
out how to beat Macinze, and I hope that Macinze does
the same thing (that Harper did) this year."
The disappointment of 2006 will motivate
her to out-work all the other runners. This year Macinze
worked as hard as everyone else, but she said she didn't
push herself to the next level.
"That's what good runners do,
and I want to be a great runner," O'Very said.
With that commitment and desire,
college coaches will be taking note of her soon enough.