Nguyen takes up hurdling, places fourth and fifth at state

MIHS junior also ran on the 4x400 relay at state.

Ari Nguyen used to be scared of the hurdles.

While sprinting in middle school, the hurdles were often placed nearby and she told herself that she was never going near them.

Fast-forward to this season, and the Mercer Island High School junior not only embraced the hurdles but placed fourth and fifth in the 100 and 300 races, respectively, at last month’s 3A state track and field meet at Mount Tahoma High School.

Her times of 15.58 in the 100 and 45.36 in the 300 were personal records during her first year of tackling the hurdles. Nguyen also ran on the 4×400 relay at state with Mackenzie Monen, Madelyn Sung and Sofia Loop. Asha Woerner was an alternate.

Running five races in three days made for a busy weekend, but Nguyen said she could handle it. Her emotions ran the gamut from nervousness to excitement to surprise when she stepped onto the podium twice during state.

Nguyen has always resided in the sprinting realm, but the hurdles coach asked her to give it a shot this season and she went for it.

If felt weird at first, but things soon fell into place and she was racking up PRs at each meet.

“Especially starting with sprinting, it was pretty easy to pick it up. After that, it was fun, so I worked hard on it and it worked out,” said the 5-foot-9 Nguyen, whose long stride played a vital role in her success.

The Reporter asked Nguyen a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life:

If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?

On the topic of hurdling, Sydney McLaughlin, she’s the Olympic hurdler for the U.S.

What’s your favorite TV series?

I really enjoyed “Breaking Bad” and maybe “Vampire Diaries.”

What special skill would you like to learn?

I’m not good at cooking, so maybe that. I can definitely improve there.

Feeding off of that, what would be your ideal meal at a restaurant?

I love pasta or maybe sushi.

What would your dream job be?

I’ve never had a super specific thing I’ve thought about. I like science or (something) medical — I think that’s really interesting. I’m taking a psychology class at Bellevue College right now. I could see myself doing that. I’ve thought about dermatology — in the medical field somewhere, probably.

If you’re having a bad day, what would you do to break out of that?

I really like just going on drives. Drive for 30 minutes, clear my head and that really helps. Cleaning up my room. If I have a messy workspace, it totally messes with me, so that always helps kind of reset.

What’s a pet peeve of yours?

If someone’s a constant interrupter. If someone’s talking and (they) just keep talking over them. I don’t like that.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

One thing I’ve also learned more about during the season is just believing in myself. I always doubt myself, that’s always been a thing, but just telling myself I can go out there, I can do this and just giving it my all. That helps me.

What super power would you like to have?

Either teleporting or flying.

Mercer Island High School junior hurdler Ari Nguyen. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Mercer Island High School junior hurdler Ari Nguyen. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo