Doing something you love is usually an act of passion.
Doing something you are great at, but don’t love, well, it can feel like a volunteer work or a job. Enjoyment, yes, but not quite the ultimate.
That’s where Jolie Nguyen is. The amazing freshman year of the ‘Iolani three-sport athlete came to an end on Saturday with a big bang. Nguyen finished first in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:58.83, overtaking another talented ninth grader, Kamehameha’s Madison Murata, on the final turn.
“My strategy was to stick to the leading person or group and when I had a chance, I would kick. I’m aware (Murata) that she’s a really good runner who takes it out in the beginning, so it’s a good challenge keeping up with her,” Nguyen said.
Great battle between freshmen in ILH 1,500 final. Jolie Nguyen of ‘Iolani overtakes Madison Murata of Kamehameha on the last turn. Nguyen won in 4:58, soph Sasha Iizuka-Sheeley of Punahou 5:03, Muraya 5:07.@StarAdvertiser @HawaiiPrepWorld @Iolani_Raiders @GoPuns @KSKAthletics pic.twitter.com/CCNPeMqted
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) May 15, 2021
Before the final lap, she struggled internally during the chase.
“In the second-to-last 100 coming up to the turn, I was dying, but I knew I had it in me to boost it a little bit more. From there, I kind of zoned out and kept going,” Nguyen said. “(Murata) did her best running all three (distance) events. I feel good. It feels good for all my work to pay off. I had a good season, too.”
Nguyen also placed second in the 3,000 run (11:20.23), denied by Punahou’s Isabella Ford (11;16.72), who was fresh with only one event. Not bad at all for Nguyen, a tennis devotee who used to run strictly for tennis conditioning.
Oh, and Nguyen won the ILH girls cross country championship in March. That adds up to two ILH titles in post-lockdown 2021, almost three. The breaking point, perhaps, isn’t that she can’t do it again. Because tennis and track are in the same season, Nguyen does not want to compromise her favorite sport again.
“I played with my partner, Karli Bo, earlier in the week in the ILH tournament. We did our best, but we lost in the quarterfinals,” Nguyen said.
Bo, like Nguyen, is a freshman.
For Nguyen, there is time now to rest and recover from the grueling, past four months. The miles. Cross country in the winter. Long-distance in spring (track). Hours on the tennis court. Cross country again when the fall season opens.
“I’m going to continue to keep training for tennis, keep up my hitting skills and try to get better, improve. I think just this year, I’m going to be focusing on cross country since there’s no JV season for tennis,” Nguyen said. “And then I don’t think I’m going to be doing track. I might come back later on, but not this coming year. I need to focus on my varsity tennis.”