Student-athlete of the Week: Milo Ostwald
April 29, 2020
Running in the hallways at school is usually grounds for a reprimand, but for speedy Niwot basketball forward Milo Ostwald, it resulted in an invitation to join the track team instead. Two years later, the versatile senior has a state championship behind him and a chance for a collegiate track career ahead of him, all thanks to an impulse that could have landed him in detention.
"Right before the season in my sophomore year, I was running around, probably doing something stupid," Ostwald said. "And [Niwot track country coach] Christensen was out there. He said, 'You're fast. You've got to join track'. And so I did."
Thanks to his natural jumping ability, Ostwald quickly carved a niche for himself among the Niwot field athletes, excelling in the long jump and triple-jump events. But joining the varsity runners was never far from his mind, and, after a grueling off-season training regimen, Ostwald found his sprint times dropping and his track time increasing during his junior year.
"As a sophomore, I didn't know I was going to do track before the season proper, so afterwards I definitely started going to more workouts, and I started running more. People started to notice me more, because I'd be in relays rather than in the jumping pits."
By far, his most memorable relay turn came in the boys 4×400 at the 2019 Class 4A championships, the final event of the weekend. Trailing the team leader, Pueblo East, by a handful of points in the overall standings, Ostwald and teammates Jack Kenkel, Jensen Douillard, and Nolan Johan rose to the occasion, taking victory in dramatic fashion and earning a trip to the podium not just for themselves, but the entire Niwot squad, a feat that he called "unbelievable" at the time.
Unfortunately, it also turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime one for Ostwald, after the coronavirus pandemic ended his final high school track season before it got underway. The senior was eager for another chance to prove himself to college recruiters, and optimistic about Niwot's prospects for another state championship, even without some key pieces of the 2019 team.
"I really thought we had a chance, everybody did," he said. "It would have been a challenge, for sure. But there was still a lot of power left to score in pretty much every event."
Instead, Ostwald's high school athletic finale will stand as the 2019-20 Niwot boys basketball season, which, he concedes, was "pretty good." Under first year head coach Clay Wittrock, the Cougars posted a winning record for the first time since 2014, and made their first postseason appearance since 2017.
"It was definitely cool to make the playoffs, but I think everyone was wishing we could have gone a little further," he said, referring to Niwot's first round playoff loss to Air Academy on Feb. 26. "I love Coach Wittrock. He's a great guy, and knows a lot about basketball. I thought he pushed us really well, and we were all able to handle it."
That's due in no small part to Ostwald, a captain and third-year varsity veteran who focused his talents on keeping Niwot's opponents from scoring this season, sometimes at the expense of his own total. Still, the senior posted 176 points and 88 rebounds in 24 games, boosting his points-per-game average to 7.3 from 4.3 in his junior season. He scored in double-digits eight times, and led the team in three-point percentage.
"I thought I defended pretty well this season," he said. "I usually kept the other team's best player or second best player under their average. I contributed everything that I needed to-hustle, rebounding, passing. But I didn't score a lot."
Ostwald said that being on the state championship track team the year before gave him an improved outlook going into the basketball season, and taught him about the importance of good team dynamics, even when individual performances count.
"I know that it takes to help get everyone on the same page. In basketball, we didn't have one player who could take over a game by himself-Cooper was close-but we really needed everyone for every game. And that's how the scoring part of the track works-everyone needs to chip in to win a championship."
When he's not busy with school or sports, Ostwald enjoys biking and hanging out with his friends. He also likes to dabble in music, a pursuit he gave up after coming to high school.
"I can play the piano, clarinet, and saxophone, and I still like to mess around with it still," he said. "I don't play much anymore, but I took lessons for, like, eight years."
After graduation, Ostwald is headed to CU-Boulder, where he hopes to study engineering or math and walk on to the Buffaloes track and field team. He reports that the transition to remote learning has gone "pretty well so far," but admits that it's not always easy to stay motivated, even with three upcoming AP tests.