Sports Spotlight: Ben Olins, John Beck, John Mitkevicius, and Andrew Wortham

By Jason Yoffe
Published: March 2009

The boys’ track captains used their strong leadership skills to guide their team to an indoor track championship. Seniors Ben Olins and John Mitkevicius lead South’s male sprinters, while seniors John Beck and Andrew Wortham took charge of distance runners.

With their guidance, the boys’ indoor track team won the Dual County League (DCL) championship, a feat the team had not accomplished in several years.

In one year, Olins improved from a sprinter on the junior varsity team to a DCL 600-meter champion. He used his success to inspire other runners to stay dedicated to track and focus on winning.

“He worked extremely hard to get where he is and that is something that doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the team, Beck said.

Going into the race, Olins was considered the underdog, and had to drop three seconds off his time to clinch the victory.

“I noticed that the championship race was anyone’s for the taking, and on race day, I just performed, Olins said.

Mitkevicius pushed himself harder than the other runners on the team did. “He is a true workhorse and a great motivator, coach Matt Capstick said.

The team relied on the senior captain to score points during crucial parts of a meet, using his track experience to push the team farther and faster.

“[Mitkevicius] has great talent and ability, but I think his greatest strength is his maturity and his ability to communicate with the rest of the runners, Beck said. “Being a hard worker is a given, and John is able to combine that with the maturity necessary to be a great motivator for the other guys.

Mitkevicius and Olins keep the team relaxed by establishing a balance between having fun and working hard at practice.

Despite sustained injuries that prohibited them from competing all season, distance captains Beck and Wortham always kept the team focused from the sidelines.

“When I race, I give everything I have, and when I train, I always try to go faster, Wortham said. “Even while injured and restricted to the stationary bike, I try to go harder than anyone else does in the weight room. Competition is what drives me and keeps me striving to get better.

Beck provided the team with the mental attitude necessary for success even though he could not participate in track’s physical aspect.

“[Beck] knows what it takes to win, and he projects that onto the team better than anyone, Olins said.

Beck and Wortham gave the pre-game speech to fire up the runners and kept them at peak performance throughout the season.

Beck helped his teammates and offered encouragement and experience. “He has a huge heart and was willing to do whatever [was necessary], even though he was injured, Capstick said.
While on the track, Wortham made a huge impact. He had experience racing in national competitions and has been one of the premier two-mile runners since his first year at South.

The captains have tremendous respect for each other. They use their prior years’ experiences to relate to their younger teammates.

“One of the great things about these captains is that they took a lot from what they learned from the previous captains, Capstick said. “[South boys' track] is a demanding program, and they understand that.

This group of captains led the boys’ indoor track team in multiple DCL championships. They were able to blend the right mix of abilities and talent into a championship-caliber team.

These seniors combined passionate running performances with inspirational leadership to generate a DCL title.

“Without these guys at the helm, I’m not sure if [winning the championship] would have happened, Capstick said.

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