Andrew O’Donnell spent the entire winter playing basketball for Greenwich High School’s varsity team, but he still found time to make a quick appearance at the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships.
Indeed, O’Donnell showcased his quickness and speed on a national stage in the meet’s 400-meter Championship event. A Greenwich senior, O’Donnell finished fourth overall in the 400-meter run, posting a time of 48.00 seconds on Saturday. Placing fourth in the country in the race gave O’Donnell All-American honors – the top six in each event earned All-American recognition.
Since he played basketball this season for the Cardinals, O’Donnell was not eligible to compete at New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships with his teammates, who also excelled at the prestigious meet. Therefore, O’Donnell competed as an individual/unattached runner.
“I qualified for the meet based on what I did last year, but I also ran once to solidify my seed,” said O’Donnell, a Riverside resident. “I had run one qualifying meet to get my seed at Ocean Breeze (in Staten Island) not too long ago.”
O’Donnell learned that his time of 48 seconds flat in the 400-meter race established an FCIAC record in the event and was the third fastest time in the race in Connecticut history. Justin Braun of Westerville, Ohio, won the 400-meter title in 46.21, followed by William Jones (Kansas City, 46.76) and Jayson Ward (Central Virginia, 47.70). O’Donnell edged Wesley Noble (Loughlin High School, 48.33) for fourth place in the nation.
“In the preliminary round, which was on Friday, I kind of went out a little bit slow,” O’Donnell said. “But then the next day, I took a more aggressive approach, I went out fast and I was in the lead when we all broke into the first lane. I finished strong, which was something I planned on. I ended up beating the kid (Noble) that beat me in the preliminaries.”
The 400-meter Championship event featured two heats. O’Donnell won his heat and placed fourth overall with his impressive time of 48 seconds.
“As I was closing in on the last 50 meters, I realized I was first in my heat and I had my eyes set on the tape and as soon as I crossed that line, I was excited, because I knew I was going to be an All-American,” he said. “It was something I had my eyes set on. That was motivation to enter this race and as soon as I broke that tape and crossed the finish line I felt immediate relief and success.”
Competing in and flourishing at the national meet are experiences the athletes won’t forget.
“It was pretty incredible there were a lot of people watching, it was indoors you can hear everyone’s voice,” O’Donnell said of the meet’s atmosphere. “I credit my girlfriend for me running personal-best time in the race. All of my coaches came and my parents were there, a lot people were really acknowledging my efforts. I was happy with my result and appreciative of all the support.”
Egan, a Greenwich senior, also won a medal at the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships. She was part of the Cardinals’ 1600-meter sprint medley relay team that won the Rising Stars race at the national meet. Joining Egan in the event were senior Olivia Eslava, junior Haley Townsend and sophomore Esme Daplyn.
One of the captains of Greenwich’s basketball team, O’Donnell didn’t have much time to prepare to compete for the New Balance Nationals.
“Honestly, I was relying on my conditioning for basketball,” he said. “I was focused on basketball all winter, so for me to run out there and run these times – I was impressed.”
Up next for O’Donnell is the spring track and field season. O’Donnell, who will join the track team at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, will serve as one of the Cardinals’ captains this spring.
“I’ve been looking forward to the spring track season since the other one ended,” O’Donnell said. “I got a few of my friends to join too. Last year, we finished second in the FCIAC to Danbury and we have them our first meet, so it should be exciting. As far as the outdoor season goes, I’ve really been trying to get people to come together and compete. Hopefully, we can win the FCIAC championship and hang up a banner.”