DAYTON – Wyatt Ostler lucked out with a fairly knowledgeable Spearfish tour guide.
On their way to a playoff meet in Sioux Falls, South Dakota last month, Tongue River cross country coach and Black Hills State University alumnus Laine Parish and Ostler made a quick pit stop. . The parish drove Ostler around his future home with a driver.
They ate at Barbacoa’s, the parish’s favorite college restaurant, on Jackson Boulevard. The parish pointed out the old paths he used to walk. They walked past the school track.
Ostler will soon know all of this. On Thursday night, the senior signed on to study and run track and field and cross country at Black Hills State after graduating from Tongue River High School next year.
“The place where it is, the coach, the team – it’s just perfect, and he has everything I need,” said Ostler.
Ostler is the first cross-country racer from Tongue River to join a varsity team, Parish said. Of course, Ostler has the chops. His athletic goal for the next four years: participate in national track and cross-country championship meetings.
He started running in seventh grade. After spending his eighth and freshman year in Laurel, MT, Ostler returned to Sheridan County and finished third individually in the state cross country race each of the past three years. Two years ago, he took third place despite a stress fracture in his foot.
In September, Ostler set a new school record of 16 minutes and 21 seconds in a 5K. This meeting took place at Spearfish.
“After that I think Black Hills State knew they wanted Wyatt,” Parish said.
Parish, who raced at Black Hills State, spoke several times about Ostler to the school’s first-grade cross-country and track distance coach Brian Medigovich.
“I tried to keep my own bias out of that,” Parish said with a smile. “I think it’s going to be a good choice for Wyatt because Black Hills gives a personal touch… I’m really excited that he will get that personal touch with coaching but also the greatest opportunities of a great school. So I think it’s a great fit. Then, with my own bias, I want to see Black Hills State succeed. So I’m delighted, as a former student, that they get another great runner.
Ostler also considered the University of Wyoming, but chose Black Hills State partly because of the small class sizes and the immediate opportunity to compete. Ostler said he should have spent his first year as a red shirt student-athlete at Laramie. In Spearfish, no such problems.
“It made it a lot easier to get to know people and already have relationships,” Ostler said.
Plus, thanks to Parish, he already knows which restaurants to visit and which trails to explore.