There was a total of 136 Wisconsin D-2 track and field teams in 2019. Many of the schools were unable to advance any athletes through Regionals and Sectionals to compete at State. Most schools that did qualify athletes for the special occasion were able to get their entire group of State qualifiers in a car or mini-van. The Osceola Chieftain boys and girls needed to load up the bus to get their large State contingent to La Crosse.
“We had eleven boys qualify for the state meet including Sean Rogers, Kolten Heimbach, Dave Olson, Justin Vorndran, Quinn McDonald, Blake Slater, Luke Haase, Gus Peterson, Gavin Peterson, Matt Germain and Tray Scott,” a proud head boys coach Rick Stewart said.
Osceola was unable to place in the top eight bottom of the sixth to secure the win.
“Northwestern is a good hitting team,” Collins mentioned. “I was impressed by their swings. I felt really bad for our guys; they deserved to win that game. It’s tough to lose a game like that when you know that you are the better team.”
Osceola started the 2019 season slow, and then won four straight Middle Border conference games to move into second place before tailing off at the end of the schedule.
“Overall, I thought we had a quality season,” Collins said. “Our guys battle, they never give up and it shows with their come from behind wins. I think throughout the year we were pretty streaky. We had a hard time being consistent. I feel this is pretty normal for a young team. I have to remind myself that at the beginning of the year we only had three players that had varsity experience. I thought as a whole we got better throughout the year and that was our goal.”
Osceola will return six of nine starters on defense in 2020. The Chieftains will be relatively inexperienced at a couple of key positions, pitcher and catcher.
“We have a number of quality players playing JV this year that we will look to help us next year,” Collins remarked. “It was fun to watch our sophomores and juniors mature this year as they gained confidence with every game they played. I like our chances to be near the top of the conference and the region.”
Osceola does lose three important seniors who played a lot of innings for the Chieftains. Clark, Rutledge and Matt Schultz completed their OHS baseball careers with the game at Northwestern.
“Although we are only losing three seniors, which is good for next year, we are losing a combined eight years of experience,” Collins lamented. “Logan and Matt Schultz have started every game for us over the past three years. All three seniors have showed our younger players what it means to play the game of baseball the right way. They enjoy playing the game of baseball and play it with a passion that has trickled down to our younger guys. I’m going to miss these guys. In a way they all end up feeling like your family and it’s hard to see your family move away. It’s never easy to lose seniors but when you lose two very quality pitchers and position players and one of the best catchers in the conference it really hurts.”