Arlington (MA) junior Ryan Oosting made headlines this winter when he became the first high school boy in the country this year to break nine minutes in the two-mile indoors.
His 11-second personal record made him the only boy to achieve that honor all winter.
And over the last year, after winning the Massachusetts All-State Outdoor two-mile championship and breaking the New England Indoor Championship meet record in 8:57.79, Oosting has continuously proved to be a pack leader of the Northeast region.
So, heading into the outdoor season with some titles to defend, including the 5K at New Balance Nationals Outdoor, and his runner-up position in the two-mile--with a time now nine seconds slower than his indoor personal best--how does Oosting aim to stay on top this spring?
If you ask him or his coach, Justin Bourassa, he's just going to keep doing what he's been doing.
"I'm just trying to run fast and keep on improving as a runner," Oosting said. "I have confidence in my racing strategies and they have worked for me before, so I don't want to change them too much."
Balance and health is the main focus for all members of the Spy Ponders, and it's what coach Bourassa believes keeps Oosting and his team in the best shape.
"[Cross country] coach Richardson worked for a long time on building the intense, low-mileage program, and we've now adopted it throughout the winter and spring seasons as well as for all of our distance runners, and we can see the results, and the number of injuries staying low to those athletes who complete each step of the program," Bourassa said.
By not changing the program too much season to season, Bourassa believes low mileage and consistency is what allowed for the team to avoid the fatigue stage that tends to creep up on many athletes during the end of the winter season.
At New Balance Nationals Indoor, Bourassa made sure Oosting "still had some gas in the tank for a really terrific couple of runs."
With a time of 9:01.87, Oosting placed second in the two-mile, just behind Brentwood (TN) High senior and University of Oregon recruit Brodey Hasty.
That national racing experience, combined with last year's efforts in North Carolina, mark two transformative track moments that keep Oosting wanting more.
"In order to remain competitive nationally, you have to stay hungry," Oosting said. "I am always looking to race fast people because they bring out the best competitor in me."
Yet taking on this new level of competition means that, while maintaining a similar training regiment, Oosting needs to reconsider his racing tactics.
"He's racing against athletes who possess similar speed and endurance, but may sit and wait to push until very late in the race, knowing their 'kick' abilities very well," Bourassa said. "We always want to prepare for every potential outcome, but this may mean very different speeds and approaches from our regular-season meets and meets in postseason."
Being invited to the Arcadia Invitational in California in April, Oosting has already encountered higher levels of outdoor competition and a higher quantity of racers.
This experience, he says, makes him even more excited for what is in store for the rest of the season.
"It was a challenge to run with 30 other guys, but I enjoyed it," he said.
In the 3200m race, Oosting cruised to a personal best and US No. 8 time of 8:53.42, and he finished sixth overall.
The Arcadia Invitational disrupted Oosting's typical rest period between the indoor and outdoor seasons, but after a weeklong immersion trip to Spain, Oosting has returned to the states rested, ready to race, and with a plan in mind.
"I think I will be focusing on the two-mile a little bit more than the mile this season. I really like the mile but I think my strength is in the two-mile," Oosting said.
While Oosting aims to break some more individual records this spring, what he's really excited for is the distance medley relay.
Only having run it twice in his time as a Spy Ponder, including once at New Balance Nationals Indoor this winter--the team placed eighth out of 33 teams after being seeded last--Oosting believes there's a lot of room for success this spring.
"We were very happy with the result but we are still hungry for more," he said. "At nationals outdoor, we'd really like to earn All-American and we think that's certainly attainable by putting the work in."
No matter what we see Oosting in this spring, however, we can be sure to see him enjoying his time on the track.
"I think that's one of the most notable things going for Ryan (is that) he really loves the sport and demonstrates this in his races," Bourassa said. "If you look back to some of the more impressive races from this past year and season, many of the photos of him, even in the All-State, New England, and New Balance National Championships feature a big smile as he makes his way around the track."
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