Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mora's Cole Oslin Saves His Best for Last

Cole Oslin finishing 16th in the 2015 MSHSL XC Championships
Mora senior Cole Oslin didn't have great expectations for his last individual race as a high schooler.  He didn't think he could win the Class A 3200 until the last few yards of the race.  Throughout the event Oslin had a conflicting dialog going on in his head.

A baseball player in a family of nine brothers and two sisters, he  didn't run track until his junior year.  He'd gone out for cross country as a tenth grader to have something to do in the Fall.  In his junior year he realized his sport was not baseball, and that he wanted to run track in college.  Cole dropped baseball and went out for track and "discovered my passion" for running.

On Friday, the passion was there, but the confidence was not.  Having finished eleventh in 2015, he'd hoped for a top three finish this year, but was frustrated by the heat and his inability to get in a good position as the race unfolded.  "I kept getting boxed in and had to run out in the second lane to get out," he said.  "It was frustrating."

The heat didn't help as it added to the tactical struggle.  With two laps to go in the race he was feeling so bad that "my goal was to not drop out," Oslin said.  "Then I thought 'this is my last race, I can't quit. I have to keep going.'" Coming down the final straight Cole found himself on the shoulder of pre-race favorite Zack Emery, but that proximity didn't generate thoughts of victory over the 2015 Class A XC champion.

With 100 meters left he thought to himself: "I can't do this."  But he looked at Emery and saw that Zack was vulnerable.  Emery wasn't pulling away.  He seemed to be slowing down.  With about ten yards to go, Oslin got some confidence.  "I CAN win this," he told himself and with one powerful surge blew past Emery to take the title.

He launched his big kick at just the right time, Cole said.  "If I would have gone sooner or later I don't think I would have won."  He would  have used his energy reserves too soon or waited too long to launch his big move. After he finished he looked more shocked than triumphant, but slowly it sank in, he was the champion.

"I'll probably be a little tired," he said, but on Saturday Oslin will be part of the Mora 4 by 800 relay.  The team has the fastest qualifying time in the slow heat of the relay but he won't be running for himself.  He'll be giving it his all for the team.  Then it's on to college down the road at Concordia St. Paul where he'll be majoring in history and political science with the goal of teaching and coaching after he gets his degree.

Running is his athletic passion and he'll try and share that passion with his new teammates at Concordia and, if all goes as planned, the kids he will someday coach.

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