Yuzki Oey: concentration on the course, compassion off it

Back in eighth grade, senior distance runner Yuzki Oey decided that she wanted to be a sprinter. She joined the track team, and then, following her mother’s advice, she joined the cross country team to further improve her running speed. Recalling this, Oey laughed: “There I realized that I just was not good at sprinting.” Oey had found her niche on the track circuit—distance running.

When Oey began running for North’s cross country team in her freshman year, she was not considered a standout athlete; however, since then she has made immense progress, and captains the girls’ cross country team. Oey has become one of the state’s best runners, and she became the first girl from the girls’ cross country team to qualify for the prestigious Meet of Champions since 2009. Oey also captains North’s winter and spring distance teams.

Her determined and motivated work ethic contributes greatly to her success. “She trains as hard as she races. Every day Yuzki is on a mission to improve herself,” track coach Brian Gould said.  “She knows she can take good and bad from each day and use them to make her an even better athlete,” girls’ cross country coach Monica Biro added.

Part of why Oey puts in such great effort is due to witnessing now-graduated upperclassmen in her earlier athletic career. “They seemed like these elite athletes with natural talent, but they also worked really hard and were successful. Seeing how their hard work paid off inspired me to do the same,” she said.

“I get this sense of satisfaction when I finish a workout or a long run knowing that I survived and I tried my hardest,” Oey said. She also has a true love for the sport as a whole. “You always know what your role is: to run as fast as you can. You know you’re improving if your times are dropping, and it’s a very clear-cut method of seeing how you rank. I really like that.”

Oey plays an equally large role off the track. Besides coordinating team dinners and fundraisers, she works to build camaraderie and foster a family atmosphere among the athletes.  “She spends every day making every seemingly minute decision in the best interest of the team. Yuzki is as proud of her teammates’ accomplishments as she is of her own,” Gould said. “That is a true leader.”

Oey’s teammates also recognize her significant contributions; when asked, her teammates all noted her compassionate and caring personality. “Yuzki always puts the team before herself, and everything she does is for the team,” senior distance runner Jessy Nguyen said. “She is one of the most selfless people I know.” Junior runner Masai Davis added, “Be it in a race or a workout, Yuzki never stops encouraging me along the way.”

Outside of cross country, Oey is a superb math student. She took AP Calculus BC in her freshman year, and she has been taking classes at Princeton Univesity through North since last year—number theory first semester of last year and Japanese language second semester, continuing into this year. Oey also tutors students in math and reading at a local Kumon center, and she says her favorite activities when she has free time are sleeping and eating (specifically, chocolate).

As for future plans, Oey hopes to continue running at the college level, and she is leaning toward an engineering major. Clearly, she is no longer just some mediocre sprinting hopeful; Oey is one of the most caring and successful athletes North has seen in recent years.

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