Girls' Outdoor Athlete of the Year: Rebecca O’Donnell
The last of her many high school track meets in the state of Rhode Island did not go exactly the way Rebecca O’Donnell wanted it to. But her last high school meet, period, was pretty much a perfect ending.
After finishing as the runner-up in the long jump at the outdoor track state championship, the Pilgrim standout won her first career medal at the New England championship the next week, and she finished that meet as the top Rhode Island performer.
“I definitely felt redeemed,” O’Donnell said. “I finally got a place at New Englands. I was really happy. Even though I didn’t win the states, I felt like I really did something big at New Englands.”
It was a fitting finish – because O’Donnell has been doing big things for a while. A jumper and a sprinter, she won eight state meet medals in indoor and outdoor track, including an indoor track state championship in the long jump in 2012.
“It’s been amazing,” she said of her career.
She still remembers falling in love with the sport during her first few runs her freshman year. Her brother had done track so she wanted to give it a shot. It was a perfect fit.
O’Donnell showed potential even as a freshman, when she qualified for the indoor state meet in the long jump and outdoor states in the triple jump. She really burst onto the scene two years later, when she won the indoor championship in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 10 inches.
She was hoping – and training very hard – for more hardware in her senior year but got edged out at both indoor and outdoor states. She did place sixth in the triple jump at states, adding another medal to her long list. Her performance at New Englands – where she finished sixth with a season-best jump of 17 feet, four inches – helped cap a memorable career with another special moment.
“It really felt good,” she said.
O’Donnell graduated this spring and will now head to the University of Rhode Island. She plans to major in kinesiology and will compete for the track team.