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2024 Female Athlete of the Year: Liv Phillips

Jay Deegan
Senior Olivia Phillips was named the Central Times 2024 Female Athlete of the Year.

The Central Times Editorial Board has named senior cross country and track and field athlete Liv Phillips as its female Athlete of the Year. The state runner-up in cross country and a force to be reckoned with in track, Phillips’ distance running career is one that will go down in school history.

A cross country captain, one of Phillips’ numerous strengths is her ability to lead her teammates towards success.

“She’s a leader by example,” said girls track and field head coach Phil Allen. “She is very religious with her training, recovery and sleep. She takes it seriously and she’s on a mission. She just continues to work and work and work. And it stands out. All the girls look at her and just see, she’s really good because of what she does.”

A strong athlete the last four years, Phillips shined especially bright during this year’s cross country season. She dropped a minute from her previous personal record of 17:42.8 in the three mile race to 16:42.5 at the 2023 IHSA Cross Country State Championship, where she would place second.

“The goal is obviously to go in and win but the fact that I was the year before I was 59th, and be able to come back the next year, put the past aside and be able to run as runner-up at state [was important to me],” Phillips said.

In fact, that previous 59th place finish during her junior year was in part due to her being sick at the meet. She ran over a minute slower from her PR at the time during the meet.

“By the second mile I knew that this just wasn’t my day,” Phillips said. “I did everything I could to finish the race. But yeah, that was a tough moment for me mentally.”

Phillips credits her mental strength to Marc Anderson, her mental performance coach.

“I give him a lot of credit for why I’ve developed so much as an athlete, but also as a person in general,” Phillips said. “He’s given me so much advice and different lessons on how to be mentally stronger during races.”

During Phillips’ sophomore track season, after not qualifying for state in the 1600 meter race or 3200 meter race, she felt ready to be done with track.

“I was just mentally in such a rough place,” Phillips said. “I started working with [Anderson] then and he dug me out of that. I fell back in love with the sport.”

After failing to qualify for state in her sophomore season, Phillips bounced back and qualified in both the 1600 meter race and 3200 meter race her junior season. She would go on to place 12th in the 1600 meter race and sixth in the 3200 meter race.

In the 2023 Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships, Phillips would place 36th in the 5000 meter race in a field of national competitors.

Senior Liv Phillips runs at the DVC cross country meet on Oct. 4. Phillips would go on to finish in second place at the IHSA State Championship on Nov. 4. (Nina Rao)

Even despite her individual successes, Phillips recounts one of her proudest moments when Central recently won their third outdoor track DuPage Valley Championship in a row.

“That’s been my favorite thing to be a part of and to be able to say I was able to help the team achieve something that’s never been done in the school before,” Phillips said.

During the 2023 cross country season, Phillips reached new heights in speed, never placing below second place throughout the season. At the York Girls Invite in February, Phillips beat the runner who placed ahead of her at the cross country state championship by over 20 seconds in the 3200 meter race.

“I remember asking her [after the race], ‘How do you feel?’ and she goes, ‘that sucked,’” Allen said. “And she laughed. She’s just really witty and that’s the performance that stuck out to me.”

Phillips’ competitive spirit was what helped fuel her time drop in cross country in-between her junior and senior season.

“I wasn’t putting in as much mileage in 2022 and that was my issue,” Phillips said. “I wasn’t strong enough to carry three miles at a faster pace. So over the summer it was about building a foundation and making sure that I was strong. That’s definitely why I was able to drop a minute.”

When Phillips entered high school, running wasn’t her main focus. Instead, soccer was at the front of her mind. She would ultimately choose to continue with running over soccer in November of her freshman year.

“I definitely would not believe what I’ve accomplished over the past three years,” Phillips said. “It’s pretty insane. To see where I’ve come, from kind of just doing it stay in shape for another sport to making it my full-time sport and, going to college for it, that’s definitely very exciting to see”

Phillips is committed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to run cross country and track.

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About the Contributor
Jay Deegan
Jay Deegan, Print Managing Editor
Jay Deegan is a Junior at Central and happy to start his third year of journalistic adventures at the Central Times. Jay loves writing features and diving in-depth into issues that plague our community. In his free time Jay runs a freelance videography and photography business and loves to creatively express his interests in sports and filmmaking. If you’d like to join CT or have a tip, reach out!
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