By Halle Snell
Ryan Oosting began running on the AHS cross country and track teams as a freshman. He is now about to begin his last season of outdoor track. During a span of almost four years (eleven seasons) as a varsity runner, he has become an extremely accomplished athlete. Oosting’s favorite track distances are the mile and two-mile, his P.R.’s being 4:11.78 and 8:53.46, respectively. His fastest 5K time (3 miles) is 14:36.13.
Oosting helped lead the boy’s cross country team to two Middlesex League championships, in 2017 and 2018. He also attended the 2018 Nike Elite Camp, which chooses 18 of the fastest high school distance runners across the country to train together and improve by learning from each other. Oosting’s four year journey at AHS has been “rewarding, heartbreaking, and interesting” according to Justin Bourassa, who coaches the boy’s cross country and track teams.
Oosting had little to no interest in running before his freshman year at AHS. He signed up for the cross country team under his mother’s influence, and neglected to train before the start of the season. After being introduced to the vigorous practices and battling early injuries, Oosting realized that keeping training consistent and taking care of himself would be vital for success. As his freshman year progressed, he “ran pretty fast, and surprised [himself].” He describes thinking, “I can actually be good at this.” Oosting then focused his newfound energy on training harder and improving his times.
Secrets to Success
Intense effort is required to be a strong cross country runner, both physically and emotionally. Oosting follows a strict regimen to stay injury-free, well-nourished, and mentally healthy. Drinking water, eating well, and sleeping are necessary for a runner’s health. Oosting explains that “people think they can get away with six hours of sleep, but if you’re not sleeping, you’re not only affecting school, but your running too, because it’s [harder for] your muscles to heal.” Neglecting to stretch or cool down after runs can also directly impact future performance. Oosting explains that “if you cut corners… you’re not going to be as good as you could be.” He advises new runners to “train hard, but train smart.”
Bourassa admits that “it’s always challenging to see runners as entire, whole people, not just varsity athletes.” Because of this, the team stresses balance and wellness. The coaches tell the athletes: “you don’t need to be thinking only about cross country, you always need to be thinking a little bit about cross country.”
Cross country is primarily a team sport, according to Oosting. Everyone has personalized goals, but the bond between teammates is what drives them to reach these goals. At the 2018 league championship, “[they] ran for the team, not for [themselves],” and won the meet, beating each town they challenged during the season.
Flexibility from within has also been important for the team. When Oosting was unable to attend a traditional postseason meet due to another invitational, Bourassa explained that “he [thought] about what he wanted to do, and everyone understood and respected that decision, just like… the other guys made choices about what [to] participate in.”
There are many people in Oosting’s life whom he believes have been the “unspoken heroes” behind his successes. He doesn’t think that his coaches- Justin Bourassa, Kevin Richardson, and John Creedon- get enough credit for the encouragement and support they’ve given him. His parents come to all of his races and support his running in any way they can. He “doesn’t think [he would] be here without them.”
Coaching Ryan has helped Bourassa “put everything in perspective, in terms of looking at the bigger picture.” He feels “much more comfortable taking a loss in something that might feel smaller if [they] can keep [their] eyes on bigger [and] more meaningful meets.”
Plans For The Future
Oosting was ecstatic when accepted to Stanford, one of the country’s leading universities. He plans to study sciences and run both cross country and track. Because of his already busy schedule, he doesn’t predict that college will be a drastic change from high school. In fact, he hopes for more free time next year.
If all goes according to plan, Oosting hopes to “run post-collegiate… with a pro contract.”
The Arlington High School community is immensely proud of Oosting’s accomplishments and is excited to see what his future holds.
The boy’s cross country team continues to welcome many new members each fall. The team has dramatically increased in size in the last few seasons- there are now about 50 runners. Bourassa emphasizes the fact that “the running program… at the high school is a great place to start- it doesn’t have to be a place where you end up.” He encourages aspiring runners to “come on out- there is a spot for you. You’re already on the team.”