Champions: Dedication, time and hours of sweat equity

Over the years the Trojans have been blessed with an occasional individual champion. In recent years, we have had two, Austen Ancell in golf in 2015, won as a sophomore and Bryce Odegard for cross-country in 2016, winning as a junior. Both were the first individual champions in their sport for the Trojans.

What separates these athletes from the regular athletes? How did they become champions?

For those hoping to become a champion, take notes.

There is one thing that stands out about them and that’s their dedication to their sport.

Austen Ancell started playing golf at the early age of 8 years old but became serious about excelling in high school. Hhe started practicing all year long and during the offseason he would participate in tournaments throughout the region, gaining experience but also playing some of the top players in the region.

In 2015 he even went to Australia to compete in golf tournaments that brought together the best from two countries. For the last three years, he has been living the sport.

The key point is that Ancell went out of his way to enter in as many golf tournaments as he could during the offseason.

He recognized that although golf is physical, a lot of the game is mental.

“Although nothing can duplicate state tournament experience, I try to play in as many tournaments as I can to develop my mental game,” he once told me. He said that was the most improved aspect of his game this season.

His father, Ryan Ancell, and mother, Dajon, have also made a huge sacrifice in hours, taking him all over the region to golf tournaments.

The other champion, Bryce Odegard, has also trained long hours in the offseason. He started running consistently in middle school. In the past two years, Odegard has gone to cross-country summer camps, where he was able to train with the best cross-country runners in the region.

Like Ancell, he has a strong work ethic.

“My hard work and others working hard has had a positive effect on the team,” Odegard said after he won his championship. “The guys would basically see how hard everyone was working and would work harder themselves.”

Also, he has participated with family in community runs just to develop his stamina.

Interestingly enough, in pursuit of the individual championship, he had to run up against rival runner Chase Woods of Faith Lutheran, who was a two-time state champion. Odegard recognized that he was a great runner and sought him out and trained with him during the summer months.

In each case, both athletes were not just sitting around playing video games during the offseason. Being champions to them meant that they had to seek out every opportunity they could to go above and beyond what their season provided. They both knew to be the best they had to find the best competitors in their sport beyond what their league provided.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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