Anchorage track standouts among latest Alaska high school athletes committed to competing in college
May 8—There aren't many high school track and field athletes in Alaska who can confidently, albeit playfully, claim the title of being the fastest couple in the state.
However, in the case of Bettye Davis East track stars Olyvia Mamae and Brian Morris, it might very well be true.
"We joke about it and say, 'Hey, we're the fastest in the state, nobody can touch us,' " Mamae said. "It's cool to know that we are, but we don't want to get too in our heads."
The two seniors are two of the fastest high school sprinters in the state, and Mamae is an elite hurdler as well.
Morris holds this year's top marks in both the 100-meter and 200-meter statewide, and Mamae is the reigning Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year for girls track and and reigning state champion in the girls 100-meter and 200-meter, along with the 110-meter hurdles.
"We are the fastest couple in the state, but we also have to remember that we did both work individually on this, and we did work our butts off to be here and to be the fastest," Morris said.
They've been dating for the past two years. After signing their national letters of intent to attend and compete for Division I North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota, they'll be able to avoid the stress that some high school couples face after graduation when college or other opportunities pull them to different cities.
"We were ready to go to different colleges, and then I started to become faster and faster," Morris said. "Things just started aligning and now I'm able to go to North Dakota State with her."
Mamae said she was "fully prepared" to try making a long-distance relationship work if they weren't able to attend the same school, but she's glad she wasn't faced with that reality.
"It's really nice to know that he'll be there and that we'll still be able to still grow together," she said.
Originally, North Dakota State was a school that Morris wanted to attend, so Mamae reached out to the coaching staff to see if they would be interested in her and eventually him.
Morris was first drawn to the school because of his friend and former Chugiak standout hurdler Logan Mathieu, who is currently a sophomore there, and Morris' interest grew once he did more research on their education programs.
[Earlier coverage: Grace Christian stars among Alaska high school athletes committed to compete at collegiate level]
It didn't take long for the Bison coaching staff to figure out that Mamae and Morris had a deep bond during the recruiting process, which began in November. Mamae kept mentioning Morris to the coaches, something he tried to assure her wasn't necessary.
"I just wanted to let her know that I would show myself to them, and I didn't need her telling them — even though it was very nice," Morris said.
They are each other's biggest supporters on and off the track. When Morris is racing, Mamae said, she goes all-out, cheering at the top of her lungs. "People look at me like I'm crazy," she said.
When it comes to training, Morris pushes her to dig deeper and do more, while she sometimes has to tell him to pull back and not push himself so hard all the time.
"Sometimes he'll tweak something and say, 'Nah, I'll just work through it,' and I tell him, 'No, we're going to take care of it so it doesn't become a bigger issue,' " Mamae said.
Morris said that Mamae also makes sure his ego stays in check and that success doesn't go to his head.
While they admit they'll need their space from each other at some point, they're happy to be attending the same school so they can "keep each other in line," Mamae said.
"He pushes me and I ground him, so it'll be nice," she added.
Morris wants to major in business, and Mamae is leaning toward majoring in biology. She's thinking of becoming a dentist "but it's not set in stone yet," she said.
They're excited to "figure out adulting" — an undertaking many of their peers will also face after graduation — and embrace whatever challenges lie ahead together.
The Anchorage Daily News asked coaches, parents and student-athletes to report individual college commitments. The following list is a compilation of those responses along with reporting from ADN sports reporter Josh Reed.
Olyvia Mamae will compete in cross country and track and field at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.
Brian Morris will compete in cross country and track and field at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.
Deshawn Rushmeyer will compete in cross country and track and field at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.
Eric Bushnell will compete in cross country and track and field at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska.
"It's an honor. I'm excited," Bushnell said. "I want to major in international studies and become a missionary and do something worldwide with it."
Anna Ellingboe will play volleyball at North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Leland Papali'i will play football at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.
Marley Ireland will compete in Nordic skiing at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire.
Makenna Maldonado will play volleyball at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington.
Jolee Kelzenberg will play volleyball at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona.
Marielle Corotan will play soccer at University of Wisconsin-Superior in Superior, Wisconsin.
Marley Hamlett will play soccer at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington.
Alexis Kindred will play women's hockey at Nazareth College in Pittsford, New York.
Riley Hill and Khenzie Connick will play women's hockey at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Ethan Eski will compete in Nordic skiing at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska.
Harrison Steeves-Little will play football at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Lauren Dorris will play soccer at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
Sammy Legate will compete in Nordic skiing at St. Lawrence University in St. Lawrence County, New York.
Rowan Brune will play soccer at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.
Murphy Dykstra will compete in track and field at Grinnel College in Grinnell, Iowa.
Jack Carr will compete in golf at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Willie Zamora will compete in track and field at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington.
Ari Kaufman will compete in swimming at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Robert Misa Jr. will play football at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California.
Isabel Goolie will play hockey at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont.
Abigail Ante will compete in golf at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri.
Allison Beloy will play hockey at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois.
Liyah Pilgrim will play volleyball at Arizona Christian University in Glendale, Arizona.
Calista Ousley will play volleyball at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.
Bright Brubaker will play volleyball at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Taylee Weiss will play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska.
Micah Bushey will play football at Fontbonne University in Clayton, Missouri.
Reilly McCue will play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska.
Naomi Popescu will play volleyball at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington.
Alina Buts will play volleyball at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon.
Deshawn Campbell will compete in diving at University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming.
Audrey Dietz will compete in diving at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Timothy Grisso will play football at the University of Mary in Burleigh County, North Dakota.
Molly Matson will play hockey at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois.
Andrew Nielsen and Rotuma Tonu will play football at Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota.
Brodyn Mariscal will play football at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California.
Charlotte Kotlarchuk will play women's hockey at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Daphne Gray will play women's hockey at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.
Marty Burton will play soccer at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Carl Colavecchio will play baseball at Feather River College in Quincy, California.
Tristan Savelio will play football at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.
Brayden Taylor will play football at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.
Ryan Thomas will play football at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. He was the Malemutes' very own Mr. Automatic as a senior, converting a state record 63-of-63 point after attempts, was perfect on field goals and blasted more than 20 touchbacks into the end zone.
Charlie Rogers will play football at Santa Rosa Community College in Santa Rosa, California.