Austin hurdler has high hopes

Published 10:10 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Austin hurdler Omot Okello, who transferred from Worthington, Minn. this fall, is hoping to get back to the state track and field meet this season. -- Rocky Hulne/

Austin junior Omot Okello knows what it’s like to run at the state track meet. He also knows what it’s like to miss out on the finals at state.

This year, the junior hurdler, who transferred to Austin from Worthington, Minn. this fall, is hoping to leave a bigger mark if he can get back to state.

“Going to state was good and that’s driving me this year,” Okello said. “I’d like to go back there again and do well.”

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Okello, who specializes in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, is coming off a good week where he set a season’s best time (15.43 seconds) in the 110-hurdles Tuesday and he took third in the 110s and fourth in the 300s at a big meet in Rosemount Saturday.

Austin head coach Tony Einertson said Okello is currently seeded at fifth or sixth in both races in the section. The top two runners in each event at the section meet will advance to state, along with those who run faster than the state cut times.

“We’re in a tough section,” Einertson said. “He’s got his work cut out for him, but if he continues to work hard, he’s got a shot.”

When Okello first arrived in Austin, he didn’t know anyone or have any friends. He said running track has helped him get to know more people.

“It was easy for me to move here,” Okello said. “But when I first came here I didn’t know anybody. Then when track season started I began to make a lot friends.”

Einertson said that Okello’s presence has been good for the entire Packers’ team this spring.

“He’s a big talent and it’s helped the team,” Einertson said. “We’ve got a couple of other hurdlers who see how he does it and he’s pretty smooth over the hurdles. That makes it easier for the kids to key on that.”

The Packers will compete in the Cougar relays in Mankato East Thursday at 4 p.m. and the Section 1AA track and field meet is scheduled for May 31 and June 2 in Lakeville South.