The Osakis boys track and field team was set up for a big season, and a lot of that had to do with a group of nine seniors ready to lead the Silverstreaks.
Jeff Bartone, Curtis Woidyla, Daniel Savageau, Luke Goodwin, Tyson Lien, Xavier Pahl, Joey Van Acker, Ethan McLaughlin and Carter Grove gave head coach Lee VanNyhuis optimism that Osakis was the team to beat in the Prairie Conference and capable of qualifying for true team state after accomplishing that feat for the first time in 2019.
“Each senior class has a special place in a coach's heart,” VanNyhuis said. “This class is no different. The senior spring sports seasons are so special. It's one last opportunity to leave a legacy in their programs and the school. Sometimes it starts to sink in a little more when the end is near how important sports were to them.”
The Echo Press reached out to each senior for Osakis after spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who responded, it’s an opportunity to share their thoughts centered around four questions: Why do they play their sport? What do they miss most about it this spring? What is a favorite memory from competing? What are their future plans after high school, and do they plan on playing the game again?
(Editor’s note: Look for more stories like this highlighting seniors from area teams both online and within print issues of the Echo Press in the coming weeks.)
Joey Van Acker
Why he competes: I compete in track because I like running, unlike a lot of others, and it helps me stay in shape during the year.
What he misses most: I miss being able to hang out with friends, whether that be at a meet in between events, or during a workout.
Favorite memory: My favorite memory from sports is having more time to hang out with friends and getting to be part of something bigger.
Future plans: My future plan is to go to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and go into athletic training. As for sports, I plan on competing in some intramurals or clubs.
Coach’s comment: Not sure of where we would use him this year, but he looked physically ready to go the first week of practice.
Why he competes: The main reason I chose to be in track and field was to develop footwork for football.
What he misses most: I miss practice and the bonds I made with other throwers at track meets.
Favorite memory: My favorite memory would be going to true team state and experiencing track and field on a higher, more competitive level.
Future plans: I plan to go to the (North Dakota State College of Science) for the chemistry transfer program and then going to either Minot or Northern Michigan University. I will be playing football at NDSCS.
Coach’s comment: Curtis was just learning the throws last year. The extra experience would have paid dividends this season.
Why he competes: I compete in track and field to win races and get better. Track is a sport where the results are right in front of you and improving is constantly available.
What he misses most: I’ll miss how close we were all together. The coaches and athletes really brought this team together as one, and we competed as a team. It was fun being able to represent Osakis while crossing the finish lines.
Favorite memory: One of the greatest memories I won’t forget is jumping in the Osakis Lake after winning the conference meet!
Future plans: I plan on attending Mayville State to study elementary education and play basketball.
Coach’s comment: After breaking school records last year (1,600 run, 4x800 relay), we were looking for another breakout season (from Daniel).
Why he competes: Running for me is an escape from normal life, and track gave me the chance to have an escape and compete at the same time. Track is so much different from any other sport I’ve competed in, and I think that’s one of the big things that kept me going.
What he misses most: I miss competing and just being with my friends doing what we all loved to do.
Favorite memory: Favorite memory, if I had to pick one, would have to be heading to state track with my boys.
Future plans: I’m heading up to Moorhead (M State) for business marketing and sales. Sports for me I’d say are done at a competitive level.
Coach’s comment: Luke gave us needed depth in the sprint relays. He had fun while getting the job done.
Why he competes: I compete in track and field because I love running to compete against an opponent in order to better myself.
What he misses most: I miss the fun team atmosphere and my teammates most of all. It was a unique experience to be part of a program that focuses on developing a growth mindset.
Favorite memory: It was a weird sunny, but rainy and cold spring day. That day our entire team had a hard workout. For some reason, even though it was cold out, the boys decided that we would all take off our shirts for practice. Even though we were all freezing, we were laughing and had a great time.
Future plans: Next fall, I will be attending North Dakota State University for pharmacy with an MBA in business. Sadly, my path diverges with track and field, but I will always enjoy coming back to watch our team compete in the years to come.
Coach’s comment: He's matured and grown so much the last few years as an athlete and a leader. He put a lot of work into it in the offseason.
Why he competes: I compete in track and field because I love to run, and I enjoy spending time with my teammates and coaches.
What he misses most: The thing I have missed the most this spring in track is actually just spending time with my teammates and coaches. Competing is fun, but the relationships are what I am missing the most.
Favorite memory: My favorite memory from track and field was having the opportunity to participate in the true team state competition.
Future plans: I plan on attending Saint John's University for pre-dentistry and computer science degrees. I plan on competing in cross country and track for Saint John's.
Coach’s comment: Carter would have led a very solid distance crew. He was just getting started in this sport with 3,200 and 4x800 school records.