O’Hara looks forward to track season

Boys’ track and field now is being led by a familiar face.

Max Wirth, Reporter

Boys’ track and field now is being led by a familiar face. Head freshman football coach and social studies teacher Mr. John O’Hara ’02 is back in the saddle. “I was an assistant in 2012 and I was the head coach for one season in 2013,” he said.

O’Hara left for South Carolina with his wife while she attended graduate school. “I hired Erik Autaujay when I left,” he said. Upon returning for the 2016 season, he rejoined the staff as an assistant coach. “Coach Autaujay stepped down for family reasons, but he’ll continue to be a consultant for the team.”

O’Hara experienced a successful high school career for the Irish. He ran in the 800, 4 x 800 and the 4 x 400. “I ran my sophomore through senior year. We were City champs and all-Catholic champs multiple times. My senior year 4 x 800 team got fifth in the State. We set a school record for 4 x 800 that year, but it’s been broken since then,” he said.

Although O’Hara has served as a football coach as of late, he said there are similarities in coaching the two sports. “You have all these different types of athletes in track and football alike. There are so many different positions and events in track and field,” he said. On the other hand, differences in coaching include what he called “in-game” situations. “You put in so much time and preparation, but it’s all on the athletes in their event. Opposed to play calling and substitutions in football, the athletes control how they do. The meets somewhat run themselves,” he said.

Despite the shift in leadership, the program’s goals for the year remain the same. “Our coaching philosophy will not change. We will compete for the City championship and all-Catholic championship. We want to advance as many kids to State as possible,” he said.

A non-athletic goal for the group is to always grow the program. “In recent years we’ve gone from 35 boys to 70,” he said. Increasing numbers even more is a priority for O’Hara moving forward. “I also want to focus on improving our success from the last five years,” he said. His immediate outlook on the team is positive and hopeful.

This year, O’Hara has his sights set on winning City and all-Catholic titles and advancing the most athletes to State in the program’s recent history. “We are strong in almost every area,” he said regarding returning athletes. “We have a lot of varsity lettermen back and a couple

regional qualifiers. We have all the makeup and leadership from seniors down to sophomores,” he said.

Seniors are expected to lead and carry the load, the coach said. “We’ll go as our seniors go. They will be showing our younger kids how to work. I’m excited for the amount of talented new freshmen coming in,” he said.