PV graduate qualifies for the Olympic Trial Qualifier


Erik Belby

Austin O’Brien pushes himself through the final miles of the marathon.

Eesha Lawande, Copy Editor

Pleasant Valley alum Austin O’Brien has had a lifelong dream of going to the Olympic Trial Qualifier(OTQ), and he achieved that dream at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Nov. 9.

O’Brien started running competitively in seventh grade and has continued running for 15 years. Initially, his favorite sport was basketball, but he went out for cross country to train during his off-season, not expecting it to be such a big part of his life. He ended up winning state during his first cross country season, so he stuck with this sport and continued to improve.

His biggest inspiration when he ran cross country in high school was his teammates because of how they all pushed each other to improve. PV has continued to build their legacy with many all-state runners, and O’Brien is happy to see the success continue after all these years. 

During his time at PV, two coaches stood out for him: Erik Belby, at the high school, and Jeff Paul, at the junior high. Both were a critical part in his athletic training but also in giving him the confidence and mindset to succeed.

Belby had a clear memory of training O’Brien due to his consistent commitment and hard work. “He was an outstanding runner and was a member of the all-state in high school and also the all-american in college,” he said.

Although Belby was not surprised by O’Brien’s achievement, it was particularly rewarding to see what former athletes of his were accomplishing. Belby is eager to see what he can do next. “It’s going to be a great challenge because only three people get in out of the whole country for the next level,” he said.

The training behind the marathon was a long endured process; however, time built up O’Brien’s confidence in his ability to succeed. “The race organizers set us up with pacers for 20 miles so all I had to do was hang out in the pack and finish the last 10k well,” he said.

All his training and hard work paid off in the end. “2:19 was the cutoff for qualifying, so seeing 2:18 at the finish was a huge relief,” he said.

O’Brien’s training continues daily while he prepares for his next challenge in February when he will head to Atlanta for the OTQ.