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Leaping forward

Hurdler Olson brings athleticism and leadership to Golden Valley football

Posted: September 1, 2009 9:36 p.m.
Updated: September 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley receiver and defensive back Dylan Olson, right, has helped Joseph Darko fit right in with the Grizzlies after transferring from Valencia.

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At some point or another, everyone has to overcome hurdles.

For Golden Valley football, those hurdles come in the form of losing seasons, coaching changes and the uphill battle of building a program in the tough Foothill League.

Senior safety and wide receiver Dylan Olson has endured those hurdles.

He’s also overcome the literal ones.

Olson runs hurdles each spring for the Grizzlies’ track team.

In fact, as the school’s record-holder for the 110 and 300 hurdles, Olson’s experience on the track has made him better at the game of football.

“Applying those skills that you have in hurdles to safety makes your game a little bit better,” he says. “Being a hurdler, you have to stride to get to somewhere. You want to get there quick. You’ve got to get over things.

“Hurdles are an obstacle. In football, there are obstacles all over the place.”

First-year head coach Andy Campbell recalls his first time seeing Olson.

It came on the heels of a conversation with junior varsity head coach and assistant track coach John Quam.

“He’s like, ‘Well you are going to have a handful of (track) kids coming out,’” Campbell says. “And of course I’m thinking track kids, they are going to be fast but they are going to be real skinny. I’m not expecting a 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound manchild, you know what I mean. You walk up there and you are like, ‘Uh, hi.’”

Golden Valley head track and field coach Rob Evans says he can see the translation of skills.

“He’s so agile and so quick and so coordinated,” Evans says, “and you couple that with that he’s such a fierce competitor, hates to lose, he really competes like few people on our track team.”

But Olson’s growth is not limited to his athleticism.

As a leader, Evans says the senior’s voice reaches beyond hurdles and into other events, such sprints and distance.

“He leads our drills. He’s a vocal leader,” Evans says. “He leads by example — the last one to leave practice.”

That leadership was put to the test this year when fellow hurdler Joseph Darko transferred to Golden Valley.

The former Valencia Viking and Olson had many close head-to-head battles over the years, but that hasn’t affected their relationship.

“I’ve been racing against this guy since we were younger,” Darko says.

The two athletes also spent three years on the SCV Running Warriors track and field team before going their separate ways for high school.

Olson was one of the first to welcome Darko.

“He blended in really well. He’s part of the family,” Olson says.

This season will be Darko’s first playing football in high school.

It is another area where Olson has helped ease his friend’s transition.

Now, Campbell says Darko has a chance to start in the same secondary as Olson or as a wide receiver.

Darko points right back to Olson.

“Dylan is great,” he says. “He helps me if I’ve got to get flat or got to get back. He helps me with all my routes — everything. Dylan is basically a teacher for me.”

Olson’s communication has developed to a point where he doesn’t even have to say anything anymore, Campbell says.

All it takes is a point.

That’s exactly what Campbell is counting on: Olson’s actions pointing others in the right direction.

“I think if I had to show my freshmen, by the time it is all said and done, this is what you want to be and what you want to do, he’s who I’m showing,” Campbell says. “He’s the kid I’m going to go down there with and say, ‘Check this out.’”


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