Published in the March 25, 2016 edition

OLIVIA DOWNEY (bottom left) of Melrose earned All-American status after competing in the NCAA Div. 2 Track and Field finals for Merrimack College. She is pictured with her medal-winning 4x400 relay team. 

OLIVIA DOWNEY (bottom left) of Melrose earned All-American status after competing in the NCAA Div. 2 Track and Field finals for Merrimack College. She is pictured with her medal-winning 4×400 relay team.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Melrose’s Olivia Downey became a track and field state champion at Melrose High School; now she is All-American.

The 2013 MHS graduate ran the first leg of a 4×400 relay team who placed sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Pittsburg State University in Kansas on March 12, earning Downey, and the team, All-American status.The women’s 4x400m relay team consisted of Downey (a junior) and freshman Mariessa Ricciardi (Holden, MA) Carly Muscaro (Ashland, MA) and Kiana Weary (Brockton, MA) who collectively ran a time of 3:44.37. The team had previously set the school record at Merrimack at the New England Championships at 3:44.89, which punched their ticket to the NCAA final (the first relay team at Merrimack to earn the privilege). Coming into the NCAA finals, they possessed the seventh fastest time in Division 2.

The quartet entered the heat against opposition seeded at the same time as their own. “We knew it would be a battle,” Downey recalls, in an interview with Melrose Weekly News. “Our anchor runner came from behind and won our heat. She ran an amazing leg.”

Downey, daughter of Rich and Kathie of Melrose, joined the Warriors in 2013 and has since enjoyed a prolific collegiate career. In 2013-14 she earned All-East Region honors for the high jump, going 10-10 on the season and earning a fourth place finish at the NE-10 Champions. She also competed in the 500 dash and placed second. In her outdoor season she earned All-Conference honors with 13 top-10 finishes and earned second place in the high jump and fourth in the heptathlon at the NE-10 Championships.

The speedy Downey recalled this particular podium experience in Kansas – a moment she will not soon forget. “It was so surreal. The best part about it though was being up there with my teammates. We’ve all been working so hard and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I’m so grateful to have such amazing people by my side.”

Her 2014-15 indoor season at Merrimack was equally successful. Downey competed in the 500m and with the 4×400 team, earning medals at the New England Indoor Championships, where she finished third in the 500m and fifth in the high jump. She enjoyed several first place finishes with the relay teams in the 4x400m at the UMass Boston Indoor Opener and Tufts Invitational and in the high jump at the UMass Boston Opener. In her outdoor season, Downey finished first in the 200m and 100m dash at the MIT Sean Collier Invitational and first in the 400m dash at the Coach P Open. Downey posted first place finishes in the 200m and along with the relay team in the 4x100m at the 2015 Jim Sheehan Invitational.

With the 2015-16 outdoor season on the horizon, there is no rest planned for Downey, also a member of the Warrior’s soccer team. “Doing soccer and track can definitely be tough at times,” she says. “It makes for a very busy schedule but I do my best to focus on one sport at a time.”

Her success in college is no surprise for those who remember her outstanding high school athletic career. The three sport athlete excelled in both soccer and track. As a member of the MHS Lady Raider soccer team she served as captain, led the team in scoring and earned All Star status. She was the two time league MVP in track and a 4 year All Star who competed in the 400m, 600m, high jump and 4×400 relay, qualifying for States in every event each year. Her high school career was capped off by when she became a two-time Div. 3 State Champ in the 600m and a New England qualifier in both that event and the high jump, qualifying her for Nationals.

Downey, an education major, would like to pursue special education someday. Until then, she has more records to break. “Going to the NCAA Championships was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done,” she says. “There were so many talented athletes there and I truly felt honored to be there.”