More hurdles to go
Utterback looking forward to her time at UC Davis
By Mike Beas
Plainfield senior Olivia Utterback is familiar with clearing all types of hurdles.
In the classroom, she’s worked to achieve a 4.21 grade-point average. On all-weather ovals, Utterback established herself as one of Indiana’s premier hurdlers, placing eighth in the 100-meter event at the 2019 state meet in a time of 15.06 seconds.
Next on the agenda is moving 2,200 miles from home to play volleyball and major in biology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), its campus located 15 minutes west of Sacramento, California. The plan is for Utterback to be on campus by Aug. 9, though that is subject to change due to precautions taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utterback, a 6’1” outside hitter, finished her Quakers volleyball career with 1,358 kills, including 432 this past fall while leading the Quakers to a 25-8 record and a runner-up finish in the Mid-State Conference. She lettered all four years at Plainfield, picking up all-conference and all-Hendricks County honors each season.
Missing her senior track season cost Utterback the chance for a higher perch on the award podium, but she’s adapted and is moving on.
“The biggest thing with Olivia is the talent. The other athletes respect that talent and react to it,” said Plainfield girls and boys track coach Brian Pelkey. “This year she was starting to become more of a vocal leader, but Olivia has had a fantastic career.”
Utterback participated in a Q&A with the ICON:
Q: After finishing eighth in the state in the 100-meter hurdles, how excited were you about your final track and field season?
A: Last year I was feeling very accomplished and very proud of myself. It was a great moment for me and my family, and showed how much my hard work paid off. I was really looking forward to this year and I was dedicated to making the top four (at state).
Q: How does being an elite hurdler help you in your main sport of volleyball?
A: It helps me tremendously, actually, being able to move fast and have good agility on the court. There are some points on long volleys I have the endurance and ability to move across the court because of track.
Q: Going to college so far away from home has its pluses and minuses. What sold you on UC Davis compared to some of the other college volleyball programs that recruited you?
A: It’s always been a dream of mine to go west. Honestly, I’ve lived in either Florida or Indiana my whole life and realized I wanted something new for myself. The UC Davis campus is super nice, I really clicked with the coaches, and the academics are incredible.
Q: As a biology major, what is your ultimate goal professionally?
A: I have a plan to become a physician’s assistant and specialize in dermatology. Ever since I was little, I’ve been intrigued by anything related to skin.