In-between track and field, volleyball and choir, Annalee Olson-Sola insists she carved out some free time during her freshman year at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.
Not too much, though, which was evident by the accolades she collected at the end of the spring, including the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in the shot put with a top throw of 42 feet, eight inches, in addition to snagging second in the discus thanks to a heave of 128 feet, 11 inches.
All together, that was enough for the conference to name her Field Athlete of the Year as a freshman.
“She ended up the conference champion, and that’s pretty hard to be as a freshman,” Gustavus throwing coach Tom Thorkelson said. “She’s a good kid, got along well with her teammates, worked hard. She’s spread thin — she’s in choir and volleyball and track and lots of things — but she did a good job for her first year. That’s a tough transition from high school.”
Thorkelson estimates Olson-Sola only made it to about half of the team’s scheduled practices due to consistent conflicts with choir.
That didn’t mean she wasn’t practicing, though. She just worked with Thorkelson to find other occasions to do so.
“My coaches were amazing, especially my throwing coach,” Olson-Sola said. “He would stay later than everyone else because I was coming in late with choir. My choir director was super flexible, and my coach was super flexible so I could leave early from one or the other.”
Those unconventional times even allowed Olson-Sola to learn a new discipline, at least temporarily, in the javelin.
In her first time competing in the event, Olson-Sola won at the Mustang Open with a throw of 122 feet, 11 inches, that would have claimed the conference title if she could have replicated it at the MIAC Championships.
She wasn’t able to, though, at the conference championships or throughout the rest of the season.
“There’s so much technique to it, like you really have to do it – the technique really has to be there,” Olson-Sola said. “It’s not strength, at all. It’s very different from everything else I’ve ever done, throwing-wise.”
The ability is there, Thorkelson said, for Olson-Sola not only to contend for conference titles in the shot put, discus and javelin, but potentially beyond the MIAC as well.
“I think she’ll be in three events, and I think she has a good chance of being a national qualifier in the next year or two,” Thorkelson said.
When Olson-Sola first arrived on campus, Thorkelson said he knew he was receiving a talented thrower after she claimed a pair of all-state finishes as a senior, but was still not expecting to coach the class of the conference as a freshman.
Olson-Sola was surprised as well, not realizing she even had a realistic shot at a conference title until the day of the meet. Maybe that was because with how busy she was, she never had the free time to stop and see where she ranked compared to her peers.
That’ll be an issue next year as well, as Olson-Sola plans to once again attempt the trifecta of track and field, choir and volleyball, the last of which she will look to expand her role in after playing five matches while the Gusties advanced to the NCAA Tournament after finishing a perfect 11-0 in the MIAC.
“It’ll be a challenge again, but I think having done it for a year, I know what to expect,” Olson-Sola said. “I know just how to manage my time better.”