Photo by: Jade Raymond
By Amye Ellsworth
Junior sprinter Michael Okoro knows what it feels like to be a champion.
Last season, he was part of the 4×400 meter championship relay team. During his freshman year, he was the 200 meter champion.So far this season, he has reached qualifying times in both the 400 meter and 200 meter.
The Big Sky Indoor Championship will be held Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 in Bozeman, Mont.
Okoro has always been a runner. “I’ve been running since elementary school. My sister [and I] started running when we were little kids, and I’ve just been running ever since,” he said. “I tried jumping and hurdles, but I just kept sprinting. Everything else was just too complicated.”
His sister, Brianna Okoro, is also a sprinter at Eastern. She is two years older than her brother but redshirted last season. Brianna also competes in the long jump and high jump.
Despite being part of a championship relay team last season, Okoro was not entirely happy with his overall performance.
“I got hurt during outdoor and [during] indoor. I ran terrible,” he said.
Okoro has been making changes to his diet and workout routine in order to improve on his performance this year. Head coach Stan Kerr has noticed these changes as well.
“Academically he wants to be very successful, and on the track as well. [He] really sees the value of tying together all the training components,” Kerr said.
Okoro also said his passion for track is what drives him to compete and to succeed. “I have a lot of heart. I’ll dig deep and try and go extra,” he said.
Kerr sees this as one of Okoro’s main strengths. “He is very driven. He’s a very goal-oriented guy,” Kerr said.
This attitude, according to Kerr, has transferred over to some of the freshmen on the team and given Okoro a leadership role on the team. Okoro said that underclassmen will come to him seeking advice.
Kerr remembers when Okoro himself was a freshman who was still developing his abilities and trying to adjust to highly competitive meets.
“It’s a roller coaster watching [freshmen] performances because they’re still adapting to our university schedule,” Kerr said. “Now [that they are upperclassmen], they’re not letting a big meet ruffle their feathers. They’re saying, ‘Let’s do this every weekend.’”
During the Montana State Open on Jan. 25, Okoro and the 4×400 relay team were disqualified and unable to obtain a qualifying time.
“Our anchor, Brad Michael, got on the track too early,” Okoro said. “We were way ahead, but someone was running while he was stepping on, so he knocked the person off the track.”
The other members of the team are junior Collin Green, senior Nick Olsson and sophomore Brad Michael. With all the members returning from last year’s championship team, they are confident in securing another championship.Track and field has one more meet before the Big Sky Indoor Championship. Eastern will compete on Feb. 15 and 16 in Moscow, Idaho.