MAPLEWOOD – Two years ago, Olivia Baker completed arguably the best high school track and field career in New Jersey history.
Baker, now a star at Stanford University, found herself on the verge of achieving a track athlete’s ultimate dream of making the Summer Olympics.
Unfortunately, Baker’s quest to make the Rio Games next month fell short.
Baker, a 2014 Columbia High School graduate, finished in fourth place in her 800-meter semifinal heat at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. on Saturday, July 2.
Baker clocked 2:01.87. The top three finishers in each of the two semifinal heats, plus the next two fastest times overall, advanced to the final.
In Baker’s semifinal heat, Ajee Wilson, a 2012 Neptune High School graduate, finished first in 2:00.81.
Overall, Baker finished 10th, thus missing the final by just two spots and .48. Phoebe Wright, representing Nike, took the eighth spot at 2:01.39.
Baker advanced to the semifinals after clocking 2:03.68 in the preliminaries on July 1.
The 2016 Summer Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 5-21.
Baker, a rising junior at Stanford, took second in the 800 at the NCAA Division 1 National Championships at Hayward Field, June 11, clocking 2:02.65.
In March, Baker took third in the 800 at the indoor NCAA Division 1 Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
During her CHS career, Baker excelled in the 400. She went undefeated against New Jersey competition in that event in all four years, including sweeping the titles at both the indoor and outdoor Meet of Champions. She won the 100, 200, and 400 and was part of the winning 4×400 at the state outdoor Meet of Champions as a junior in 2013, becoming the first athlete ever to win four gold medals in meet history.
In her senior year, she broke her own state indoor record at the New Balance Nationals with a time of 53.49. Baker then broke the state outdoor 400-meter record in 52.46 at the USATF Junior Nationals after finishing her CHS career.