The Official Student News Site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

The Official Student News Site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

The Official Student News Site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

Making a Stride Into the 2024 OHS Track and Field Season

Taylor Walsh
(From left to right) Sindri Bonner, Taylor Walsh, Alivia Uselding, and Ryanne Andreen pose after winning their 4×800 race.

With the temperatures climbing and the grass getting greener, the 2024 season for the Orono High School Track and Field team is underway. Coaches are working to develop leadership strategies, athletes are putting in the work in and out of practice, and day after day, the team has fun and achieves success.

An Overview of the Season
Practices for the 2024 season began on Monday, March 11. Coaches and athletes meet Monday through Friday from 3-5 after school at either the Orono Activity Center or the turf at Pesonen Stadium.

According to the OHS athletics website, there are 15 track meets this season, with a variety of competitions at home as well as other schools or colleges such as Waconia High School or Bethel University.

The season culminates in the 2024 MSHSL State Tournament, which will be held at St. Michael-Albertville High School from June 6-8.

Laying the Groundwork for Success
Practices are divided into multiple sections and involve activities with the whole team, as well as small groups. Each practice begins with a team huddle as all 113 athletes come together.

“We start each practice with a large-group meeting and go over announcements. We emphasize this aspect of practice, as it is a critical opportunity for team-bonding,” OHS Track and Field head coach Nathan Porter said.

The team is then split into their respective event groups. The rest of practice typically includes a workout or run, lifting session, and a cool-down period with deep stretching.

A strong connection among team members is built at practice, and creating a positive and fun team culture is one of the most crucial aspects to collective success.

“It’s always so much fun at practice. Everyone pushes each other to be better,” sophomore Taylor Walsh said.

Hello, Game Day
When competition days arrive, there’s an anxious feeling in the air. Runners want to improve from their past races and encourage their teammates to do the same.

“At the start of meets, our athletes are stressed and there’s a rush to get things going, but when they find their events and settle in, it’s much calmer,” Porter said.

Meets are generally in the afternoon and last for three to four hours. There are twelve track races, which include a mix of sprints, middle distance, long distance, hurdles, and relays. Six field events constitute the rest of the competition and include long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, and discus.

According to Porter, success is contagious among team members. The high energy of meets gets the team excited to give it their all and make OHS proud.

Athletes Forge Their Own Path
Team members are free to choose which events they wish to pool their efforts toward. Senior James Johnson was a sprinter his sophomore year but has joined the boy’s distance team for his junior and senior seasons.

“When I was a sprinter, I enjoyed it to some extent, but as the year went on, I didn’t perform as well as I would like. I find myself to be more successful in events such as the 400 and 800 meter,” Johnson said.

Along with the freedom for athletes to choose which events to participate in, Porter has expressed that his coaching style is more hands-off and based on “learning by doing”.

“I take a slower step-by-step process, but I like to make sure they are always experiencing growth and learning from their mistakes,” Porter said.

Looking Ahead
As the heat of the season approaches, athletes and coaches alike are looking forward to the memories they will make while working hard, staying motivated, and having fun.

For the seniors on the team, it will be a bittersweet last season representing the Spartan and wearing the O with pride. These athletes are reflecting on the times they’ve shared together and setting goals for themselves one last time.

“I’m excited to grow as a runner, teammate, and person,” Johnson said.

The next meet is on Wednesday, May 15. It will feature the Varsity team and be held at New Prague High School.

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About the Contributor
Lily Munsch
Lily Munsch, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Lily Munsch, and this is my first year writing for the Spartan Speaks. I am on the Orono Dance Team, and in my free time I enjoy going out on the lake and hanging out with friends. I am excited to report on events happening around OHS this year!

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