Ottawa’s track club has come a long way since its inception three years ago. After growing from five members in its inaugural year to 33 this summer — including five Junior Olympic qualifiers — the club will take on a fresh look for the future.
Midwest Elite Track, formerly Ottawa Track Club, is expanding rapidly. Come mid-September, the club will offer indoor track training coached by Brianna Salas, Louisburg. Salas formerly competed at Colby Community College and Bethany College, Aaron Miller, Midwest Elite Track founder and head coach, said.
“Obviously, it will be eye-opening to the kids,” Miller said with a laugh. “Some of these kids might not even know indoor tracks exist.”
On top of that, Midwest Elite will expand its club to both Louisburg and Iola, with Salas coaching the Louisburg squad, and Josh Whittaker, Allen County Community College assistant track coach, at the helm of the Iola program.
“Basically, I was sitting at home trying to think how we can find a better field of kids for relays and everything,” Miller said. “Our assistant coach [Salas] is moving to Louisburg, and I asked her if she wanted to do a team there. She said yes. It was kind of wild. Two days later, one of my buddies [Whittaker] got the assistant job at Allen County Community College. He asked if we had ever thought of expanding our club. I said, ‘That’s funny, we were just talking about it.’ So he is going to coach the team down in Iola now.”
Both the indoor season, and the two new team locations will be open to the same age groups — a younger group for kids up to 12 years old, and an older group for ages 13 and up. As long as the weather is nice, Miller said he hopes the indoor team can train at Ottawa High School and Ottawa University. The indoor track at the Ottawa Community Recreation Center/Goppert Building, 705 W. 15th St., will also be a potential pracitce location, he said.
The indoor team will also get some meets in, Miller said.
“USATF will release a schedule soon for indoor track meets,” he noted. “KU and K-State have one, and Wichita State will have one. Those three for sure, and sometimes Johnson County will have one.”
As for the new clubs in Louisburg and Iola, they will train separately, barring the relay teams, but will compete as a team with Ottawa at meets as Midwest Elite Track, Miller said.
USATF Hershey Junior Olympics
Rock Chalk Park, Lawrence
25 — Madelyn Montgomery 9:13.06
27 — Ambrynn Stewart 5:10.21
20 — Leo Schoenberger 359 points
41 — Natalie Price 21-06
26 — Jaine Johnson 37-06.75