Running can take you a lot of places: Around the neighborhood, across town or even up a mountain.
In Meghan Hunter’s case, however, it’s taking her all over the world.
The Provo High senior has already proven to be an elite athlete with 2018 accolades that include setting the Utah state record in the 400-meter race and sweeping the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter races at the 5A state meet.
Now she is stepping up to compete at an international level as she leaves on Oct. 4 to head to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
According to the US Olympic team website, the event runs from Oct. 6-19 as 241 gold medals will be awarded in 32 different sports. Representatives from 166 different countries had athletes qualify in the games, which take place every four years after starting in 2010.
“I definitely have some nerves about getting there and competing, but my workouts have been going well,” Hunter said last week. “I don’t think it really hit me until I got the Team USA gear and I got to try all the things on. Trying on the USA uniform was the most amazing feeling, knowing that I was going to be able to represent the USA there.”
She will compete in the 400-meter race and believes she has a legitimate chance to be near the top.
“I’ve looked at the past results and I think I could be a contender to medal,” Hunter said. “That would be really cool if I could get that. I feel like I have a good opportunity.”
She sees it as being an exciting and somewhat intimidating adventure, since she is going without any family or local friends. Fortunately, however, she won’t be a complete stranger to everyone on Team USA.
“At the beginning of June, I was able to go to the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in the Bahamas,” Hunter said. “They brought in people from all over the nation, so three of the athletes who are going to Argentina I met in the Bahamas, so there are a few I know. Most of the American team is meeting in Houston and then we will all fly down together to Buenos Aires.”
The Provo senior said sometimes it seems surreal to be getting these types of opportunities for just doing something she loves.
“When I was beginning high school, I watched my older sister Kate compete,” Hunter said. “She is now running for BYU in cross country and track. She was winning state titles and winning pretty much every race she ran. I always really looked up to her and thought how amazing it was. I never thought I would be able to win state titles too. I really didn’t expect it until it started happening. Even when I ran my best times, I had no clue there would be this many opportunities to go compete.”
This particular journey had its beginning earlier in 2018 when it was just a possibility for Hunter.
“In March I think it was I got an email that said, ‘You’ve been selected for a potential opportunity to be able to represent Team USA in Argentina in October,’” Hunter said. “I thought that was pretty cool, but they said, ‘You might not be chosen.’”
Hunter decided to fill out the application but with the track season in full swing and many other things going on, she said she had pretty much forgotten about it until August.
“I got another email that said, ‘If you are chosen, would you still be interested?’” Hunter said. “I replied yes, of course, and then it was about a week later when they emailed me again and told me I was selected.”
She recalled sitting in her room, opening the email from the Youth Olympic Games that said, “Congratulations.”
“It was super-exciting for me to see,” Hunter said.
Because of the time of year, Hunter was focused at that point on getting ready to compete with the Bulldog cross country team.
“I had to decide how to train,” Hunter said. “Cross country was going on but I had to figure out if I wanted to keep doing it. I wanted to be really good for this race but it was a weird time of year to train for sprints. I talked with my coaches and they came up with a plan where I would be sprinting a few days of the week and then be with the cross country team so I would get a good balance of speed and endurance.”
Now she has put in the work and is set to head to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. She will run in the 400-meter preliminaries on Oct. 11 but every athlete then moves on to compete in a finals heat on Oct. 14.
The Bulldog star wants to be at her best but said the experience will be tremendously valuable no matter where she finishes in the race.
“The biggest thing for me on this trip to go see the culture and how everything works,” Hunter said. “The racing part is a big part too but as long as I know I’ve done my best, that’s what matters most.”
For complete details and information on the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, go to http://www.olympic.org/buenos-aires-2018.