Oakville's Ortinau caps off career by capturing state's shot-put title
By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
In just a second or two, a person's life can change forever.
Laura Ortinau, who graduated last week from Oakville Senior High School, now has a better understanding of that concept.
As she stood and awaited her final throw in the shot put event May 31 at the Mis-souri track and field state championships, a thousand thoughts could have traveled through her mind.
She could have thought about the fact that this was to be the final chapter of an im-pressive athletic career at Oakville Senior High School. The thoughts about her upcoming graduation or what lies ahead in her future also could have clouded her concentration.
"I kept telling myself that I had to relax and do what comes natural," Ortinau told the Call. "You practice for three months for this and you just do what comes natural to you."
All of Ortinau's hard work in the weight room and on the field paid off as she capped off her high school career with an exclamation point.
Her final throw of 41 feet and 8.25 inches in the shot put was more than enough to be crowned state champion at the Jeffer-son City event.
"I worked for the past three years to try and do this and I finally did it," Ortinau said. "I just didn't want to be the last person overall to throw because there's so much pressure. I ended up throwing second to last."
A three-sport athlete at Oakville, Ortinau participated on the golf team and also was a starting forward for the girls' basketball team this school year. In fact, the youngest of Richard and Nancy Ortinau's four children has been participating in one sport or another for as long as she can remember.
"I can't remember a time when I wasn't playing sports," Ortinau said. "I don't really have a favorite sport. Each sport has little things that you like and dislike about them.
To demonstrate how versatile of an athlete Ortinau is, consider these numbers.
In golf, which she started playing her junior year at Oakville, Ortinau missed the cut for the state championships by six strokes. In basketball this season, Ortinau led the Tigers in rebounds with 6.9 boards a game while averaging 6.6 points. The senior forward was second on the team in blocked shots (13) and third in steals (34) as Oakville went 15-11 overall with a 5-3 record in the Suburban South.
Yet her accomplishments are not just limited to to the arena of athletics as she is also a member of the National Honor So-ciety.
"She's a pretty smart lady," said John Dennet, Oakville's track and field coach. "She's also a very versatile athlete."
As she heads to Mizzou this fall, Ortinau hopes to join the track and field team and continue her athletic accomplishments in the shot put, discus and hammer throw.
Ortinau has yet to select a major, but that doesn't mean she won't be successful in the game of life, according to Dennet.
"Laura's got a great sense of humor and was very good for the team," Dennet said. "I think that she's going to have a lot of avenues to pursue in life."