In the Fast Lane: Tatum Olesen’s Trailblazing Story

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photos by John Hale

“It must be hard for other runners in CCS to know they will always be chased down by her. More importantly, though, she’s a wonderful teammate,” said cross-country coach John Hale when asked about senior Tatum Olesen.

Olesen is San Mateo Daily Journal’s 22-23 Girls’ Athlete of the Year as well as the 2023 Central Coast Section (CCS) Cross Country Runner of the Year. Olesen will continue her running career at the University of Virginia, and will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy at M-A as one of its most impressive athletes of all time.

Olesen after placing seventh at state junior year.
Olesen running the last 100m of the 2.95 mile Crystal Springs course for CCS Championships, far ahead of any competition.

Olesen has won the CCS Division I Cross Country Championship for two consecutive years while at M-A, and placed seventh at the state championships in her junior year and sixth in her senior year. 

She placed third at the CCS Division I Track and Field Championship and seventh at the state competition in the 800-meter race as a sophomore; as a junior, she placed second at CCS and seventh at state in the same race. She was also the anchor of the girls 4×1600 team that ran the fastest time in the country and placed fourth at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. 

On top of all that, she holds two school records: the 800-meter at 2:09 and the mile at 4:37. 

In addition to cross country and track, she has also played on M-A’s varsity soccer team all four years of high school, making her one of few three-sport varsity athletes at the school.

Olesen breaking the school record in the 800m at the Arcadia Invitational.
Olesen after breaking the school (and league) record in the 1600m at PAL championships.

As a seasoned runner, Olesen enjoys mentoring newer teammates. “I like being a leader on the team alongside some of the other seniors,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to help newer runners because when I was a young runner, I really loved having people to look up to and who helped me push myself in workouts.”

Sophomore Paige McGaraghan said, “Tatum is relentlessly positive and always inspires me to do my best. She’s been such a great role model for me the whole time I’ve been here.” 

Senior Annie Pflaum, who has been running with Olesen since seventh grade, shared, “She has always been an amazing runner, and she’s super humble about it, too. Even if there’s a super hard workout, she still makes practice the best part of the day.”

Olesen stays dedicated to her work, running over 35 miles each week. She rarely takes days off––senior Jordan Bradley explained, “I have gone on a ton of trips with Tatum and our other friends. Every single time, she goes on at least one run a day, even in the snow or rain. It is insane.”

Olesen running at the Mariner Invitational.
Olesen finishing the last leg of the 4x400m at Carlmont this past Tuesday.

Olesen first started running in middle school after joining the Wildebeests, a club team. “I started running more with my sisters during the pandemic, but I was just doing some non-competitive runs and focusing on soccer. I started running more consistently during the summer before my sophomore year and really transitioned to focusing on both cross-country and track that year,” she said.

Running runs in the family, Olesen’s eldest sister ran throughout high school, and her other sister ran track and field at the University of Wisconsin. She said, “My sisters all played soccer and then transitioned to running in high school, which is part of why I started running.”

Olesen’s dad ran track and field at Stanford University and ran professionally for eight years after college. Olesen said, “My dad’s experience in the sport has definitely helped with my running, and it has been nice to have him supporting me.” 

However, Olesen’s decision to continue running in college was not straightforward. She said, “After my sophomore track season, I started to seriously consider running after high school, and I got really interested in it after I talked to various programs.”

To future runners, Olesen advised, “Just stay consistent. If you don’t see immediate improvement, don’t give up. It took me a long time to reach where I am but anyone can do it if they are committed enough.”

Chase is a senior and in his third year of journalism. Chase is a sports editor and loves writing about sports events and music. In his free time, he plays soccer and hangs out with friends.

Michael is a senior at M-A and is in his second year in journalism. He enjoys writing about sports. In his free time, Michael likes to play soccer, surf, and mountain bike.

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