Runner profile: Bjork Olsen

Cross Country runner Bjork Olsen led the Pirates to their best season ever. -Garrett Campbell | The East Carolinian

Junior Bjork Olsen has led the ECU women’s cross country team to its best season ever. The team finished third overall at the Conference USA championship meet, and a ninth place finish at the Southeast regional championship meet. Both are new bests for the Pirates.

Olsen chose to leave Torshavn, Faroe Islands and come to ECU because of Head Coach Dan Lee and the overall impression the school and training facility made on her.

“Everything looked really nice and Coach Lee seemed like he’s a nice coach and seemed serious about everything,” said Olsen.

Before coming to America for school, Olsen played handball and soccer in addition to running. She said she got into running because her parents are runners as well.

“My dad’s athletic and my mom is getting into running too,” said Olsen.

Olsen is currently majoring in public health studies and plans on moving back to Europe once she graduates.

“I want to be a dentist. I might go to the dental school in Copenhagen,” said Olsen. “I’m defiantly going to study in Denmark and then we’ll see what happens.”

However, living in America has made her not sure about moving back to the Faroe Islands.

“It’s a small country and since I’ve been here, I’ve been used to how America is so big. Moving to an island is going to be so different,” said Olsen.

While she has been here she has taken trips to Washington D.C, N.Y. City and Florida.

As ECU’s top runner, Olsen has been awarded with First Team All-Conference, the All-Region Team, and most recently the C-USA All-Academic team. In addition to being the team’s top runner, Olsen also maintains a 3.98 GPA. Even though she has been highly recognized this season, Olsen is just happy to be improving.

“It’s not really the awards that mean so much, it’s that I’ve improved so much,” said Olsen.

This team was not expected to do as well since they lost most of the top runners to graduation or redshirt. But, due to drastic improvement, the team has fared much better. The previous season was the best ECU has done in the past, finishing fourth at conference and 11th at regionals.

Hard work is the main reason for the drastic improvement in this offseason according to Lee.

“It’s impossible to run a sub four minute mile unless you prepare. With what these girls and guys do in this sport, a hundred percent of it is the product of hard work,” said Lee.

There was nobody who improved more from last season than Olsen. She improved her finishing position at conference by 40 positions and improved on her previous year’s regionals finish by a staggering 121 spots. Olsen also set personal records throughout the season.

The expectation for next season will be high with the team returning all of their current runners and getting Brooke Kott back from a redshirt season. Kott was one of the top runners from two seasons ago and is expected to challenge Olsen for the top spot on the team, though Olsen says that the challenge is a good thing.

“You know, there’s going to be a lot of positive competition.  I’m definitely going for being number one on the team and she’s going to be going for the same thing,” said Olsen. “I want to improve, but I want them to improve a lot to because we’re a team.”

Olsen will now take a short break before she begins to prepare for the track season. The track season will also carry some high expectations, as the women’s team will try to defend the indoor conference championship and try to improve on a second place finish in the outdoor season.

Next year Olsen will compete in her final season with ECU as she and Kott look to lead the team to some lofty self-imposed goals, which include qualifying for the NCAA championship meet.


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