Ortega breaks records at CWU

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February 16, 2108: Day one of the GNAC indoor Track and Field Championships.

February 16, 2108: Day one of the GNAC indoor Track and Field Championships.

Loren Orr

Loren Orr

February 16, 2108: Day one of the GNAC indoor Track and Field Championships.

Austin Lane, Staff Reporter

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HarLee Ortega grew up wanting to play softball, but it was when her eighth-grade math teacher told her she had the potential to be good at track and field that she joined.

Now, Ortega has cemented her name in the history books for the CWU Track and Field team.

Ortega is a redshirt junior and recently broke the school’s track and field record in the heptathlon. The previous record was 4,647 points held by Lona Joslin and was the school record from 1984. Ortega now owns the record with a score of 4,875.

Ortega is also ninth in the school’s 100-meter hurdles, second in the triple jump, ninth in the high jump, and third in the long jump.

Ortega’s recent performance at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships on March 10 set the bar for her future goals. Here she posted a personal record in an event within the heptathlon, the 800 meters. With a new personal record of 2:20, this has been an event within the heptathlon that she has wanted to constantly improve in.

“That’s always been something I wanted to do, but I never thought I could,” Ortega said.

Assistant coach Brittany Aanstad saw the potential in Ortega early on and knew that by the end of Ortega’s time at CWU some school records would be broken.

When Ortega came to CWU, she had never heard of the heptathlon. Ortega didn’t think she was going to excel at the event until the end of her sophomore year and “never believed” coach Aanstad the first two years she competed at the collegiate level. Now, just a few years later, she holds the school record for the event and is ranked fifth nationally in heptathlon.

Aanstad said that when Ortega first arrived as a freshman, they met to go over both indoor and outdoor goals and “all of [the goals] were well over the school records.” Breaking the school’s record for the heptathlon was one of these goals.

“That has been the goal from day one,” Aanstad said. “She was so proud of herself and that was very fulfilling as a coach that we set that goal and we were able to achieve it.”

Aanstad has coached Ortega every year she has competed at CWU, and Ortega recalls her freshman year, when she thought Aanstad set the bar a little too high, even for herself.

“Brittany has always said ‘this is the mindset, this should be your goal’ and I never thought I could do that,” Ortega said.

Ortega feels good about where her heptathlon score is overall but still feels like there is room for improvement.

“My score right now for the [heptathlon] is good,” Ortega said. “I’m happy with it, but I think I could do better.”

Ortega’s teammate and fellow heptathlete Katie Collins said that Ortega “really pushes you to get better and she wants us to push her to get better.”

Ortega has consistently improved in the heptathlon. As a freshman, Ortega posted a 4,158 in the event. Then, as a redshirt sophomore, she improved to 4,558. Now, with the rest of this season and next season as well, Ortega feels like she can reach new heights in the event.

“I actually have had a goal, I wanted to get 5,050 points,” Ortega said.

Ortega also has a general idea on what she would like to do after college.

“I’m getting a degree in recreation and tourism, so I want to pursue that as well,” Ortega said. “But I think coaching on the side would be fun.”

Ortega has been shooting to break multiple school records from the beginning of her college career. Now, as she competes this year and finishes her college career next year, Ortega knows there is more to her legacy than her current accomplishments.

“I’m pretty happy with where I’m at,” Ortega said. “There’s still a couple school records that I would like to have.”

 

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Ortega breaks records at CWU