The seasons may change, but summer, winter, spring and fall, San Marino High School graduate Olivia Ruiz is always on the run. A record-setting member of the Lady Titans’ cross country and track squads, Ruiz was named Most Valuable Player in each following her junior and senior years for an impressive total of four. Ruiz also left SMHS as the school record-holder in the 800-meter run, traversing the two lap race in just 2:17.
Ruiz, a freshman at Pasadena City College, was invited to run track for the Lancers and, while there, was asked to run cross country as well.
“He wanted me to stay in condition for track,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz is doing a lot more than merely staying in shape—she is excelling. At the SoCal Preview Meet held last month at Mission Bay, Ruiz placed 25th overall out of 209 runners over the 5-kilometer course, finishing with a solid clocking of 21:20.9.
She is adapting to the slightly longer distance (3.2 miles compared to 3 miles in high school) but has thankfully found her teammates to be supportive.
“Everyone acts like one big family, which is great since we all share the same love for the sport,” Ruiz told The Tribune.
At the head of that family is one of the most accomplished runners in the history of track and field. Innocent Egbunike, who was associated with eight Olympic Games as an athlete and coach, is in his third season as PCC’s full-time head coach for the Lancers men’s and women’s track and field and men’s and women’s cross country teams.
“It’s a small world but I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to train with him,” Ruiz said. “It’s not every day you get to train with an Olympian.”
The daughter of Angie and Jorge Ruiz, Olivia has a younger brother, Seth, who is a junior at San Marino High School and aspiring baseball player. Olivia has a popular Instagram page that features style, health and fitness and is currently studying Business Marketing at PCC.
“I am hoping to transfer either to USC or Loyola Marymount University,” she said. “I also hope to even run for them if I have the opportunity to do so.”
Which, of course, she will.