The Osakis track and field teams are positioned a little differently between the boys and girls programs, but both are hungry for an opportunity to train and compete if given that chance.
The Osakis boys are led by a strong nucleus of upperclassmen, while the girls have just three seniors and five juniors in the top two classes.
“We just want the opportunity to be together, train together, and compete together, whatever that might look like,” head coach Lee VanNyhuis said of a 2020 season that is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “But at the same time, we understand that everyone is making sacrifices right now, and that valuable lessons can be learned through difficult challenges. We will continue to keep things in perspective, and deal with things as they arise.”
As is usually the case, the Silverstreaks are coming off impressive seasons. The boys and girls both won the Prairie Conference championship, and the boys qualified for the state true team meet for the first time in team history. They finished eighth out of 12 teams in Stillwater. The girls were third at section true team and both the boys and girls were academic all-state Gold Award winners in the classroom.
Both programs did lose talented athletes with the boys graduating Jacob Backes, Matt Peikert, Jacob Wielenberg and Adam Petrich. Backes was all-state in the pole vault and 300-meter hurdles. The girls lost all-state shot put and discus thrower Elizabeth Pahl, along with Tianna Stanek, Lauren Scherr and Elana Eckel.
“Our boys program has a lot of positive momentum right now, with a big group of seniors that have talent and leadership,” VanNyhuis said. “We feel that we are the team to beat in the Prairie Conference, and that we (would) compete to qualify for the state True Team Meet. We have some areas that we have to shore up like some of the jumps and hurdles, but we feel we have some people ready to step up in those areas.”
The Osakis boys have a group of 14 returning letter winners who encompass every event from distance and sprints to jumps and throws. The girls can say the same thing as they return 23 letter winners from last season. It’s still a relatively young group, but one with promise.
“We know that we are going to rely on some young girls to fill spots,” VanNyhuis said. “But a lot of those young girls already have had a taste of varsity competition, and are hungry to contribute. We (hoped) to compete for the conference title and to be in the top four at the true team section meet.”
VanNyhuis believes Long Prairie-Grey Eagle has the makings of being another good team in the Prairie Conference. Section 6A is loaded with talented programs. VanNyhuis sees Minnewaska, Morris, Perham and Pequot Lakes again being at the head of that field for the Silverstreaks to compete with if a season gets going.
(Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota State High School League spring activities season is suspended through at least May 4. Whether a season will be played at all is very much up in the air, but these spring preview stories are meant to give coaches for area teams an opportunity to share what they think their players might be capable of if any type of season is played this year.)
2020 OSAKIS TRACK AND FIELD
GIRLS ROSTER - SENIORS - Camryn Hoffarth, Alexa Lien, Ali DeWenter; JUNIORS - Madi Nystrom, Julianna Collins, Kaylee Thompson, Raechel Weir; SOPHOMORES - Noelle Bjerk, Hatti Schmidtbauer, Lexi Spychalla, Emma Tenhoff, Mara VanNyhuis, Makenzie Lien, Alexis Johanson, Tessa Stanek; FRESHMEN - Kylee Kranz, Alexis Ziesmer, Kyrah Oeltjen, Madelyn Collins, Larissa Hoffarth, Madi Douvier, Cora Mathews; EIGHTH-GRADE - Bria Hoffarth, Emma Nobles, Lydia McLaughlin, Kianna Kendall, Eva Van Acker, Carlee Muenzhuber, Lauren Anderson, Madeline Anderson, Hailey Walker
BOYS ROSTER - SENIORS - Kobie Lara, Jeff Bartone, Curtis Woidyla, Daniel Savageau, Luke Goodwin, Tyson Lien, Nathan Bjerk, Xavier Pahl, Joey Van Acker, Ethan McLaughlin, Carter Grove; JUNIORS - Jarron Kurth, Benjamin Paulson, Brently Boogaard, Isaac Hetland, Ryan Engstrom, Duncan Vandergon; SOPHOMORES - Garek Radtke, Caleb Goodwin, Ethan Wiggins, Hunter Sell, Thomas Van Acker; Elliot VanValkenberg; FRESHMEN - Joseph Aaser, Jack Petrich, John Paul, Issac Loverink, Noah Schultz, Kale Drevlow, McCarter Kirksey, Stewart Jones, Fischer Torgerson
COACHES - Head coach - Lee VanNyhuis - 21st season; Assistant coaches - Justin Dahlheimer, Rebecca Peterson, Pat Ryan, Laken Lymburner