By Hailey Holt
Batavia High School has some of the most dedicated, hard-working athletes out there. Among the top student athletes, Tori Ortiz, is one who has been able to accomplish a lot over the past four years here, with still one more season left to leave her mark. With Ortiz breaking the 200, 300, and 400-meter dash records during the indoor season this year, it will be exciting to see what Ortiz has planned for the outdoor season.
Q: When did you first discover your passion for running?
A: “I first discovered my passion for running really early. I remember in kindergarten everyone would always say ‘she’s so fast!’, and I would try and race everyone. After the fifth grade track meet I knew it was something I wanted to begin pursuing, so when middle school hit I was so eager to start the track season, and it’s been like that ever since.”
Q: What are your top three events and times?
A: “My top 3 events are the 100-meter dash, which I ran my PR (personal record) of at 12.39 at conference my sophomore year. The 200-meter dash is my favorite event; my best time for that is a 25.5 which I also ran at conference my sophomore year. And the third event is the 400-meter dash, where I broke the school record this year for indoor season running a 59.07.”
Q:What were your thoughts when you went up against a state champion in your last indoor track meet?
A: “Going up against a state champion, but also a national champion is something that to me was just purely a great opportunity for good competition. She has been the best competition I’ve seen all year, and it was definitely nerve wracking. But I couldn’t let it get to me, otherwise I wouldn’t run my best. I used it to my advantage to push myself because I was racing someone who is just naturally better than me.”
Q: What made you decide to attend Illinois State?
A: “Illinois State to me just seemed like a home away from home. I visited the school three times, and I loved it more and more each time I went. The members of the team were so welcoming that I met on my visit, and it was super easy to get along with them. The coaches are great, and the program itself is outstanding. I’m super excited to be a part of such an amazing team next year, and to be attending such a great school.”
Q: Since you will be attending ISU, have you received any scholarships from them?
A: “I unfortunately do not have a scholarship to ISU. I am a recruited walk on as of right now. I tore my hamstring last outdoor season at the second meet, so I had no times for them to go off of; therefore they had to use my sophomore year times. I’m running for a scholarship this season, and I’m hoping it all goes well.”
Q: What are you looking forward to once outdoor season starts?
A: “What I’m looking forward to for outdoor season is to have the best season of my life. I’m looking to have PR’s in all of my events, and to break the school records for my events. I’m also looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team. I think we can compete very well in our meets and I’m very excited to see what we accomplish.”
Q: Who are your biggest supporters and how have they had an impact on your track career?
A: “My biggest supporters are my family, coaches, trainers, and friends. Basically everyone. They’ve all pushed me to be my best, to work my hardest, and to never give up. They’ve helped me recover from an injury that set me back a lot, and have helped me be where I am today. I can’t thank them enough for that, for everything.”
Q: How do you balance school, track, and a social life all at once?
A: “Balancing school, track, and a social life isn’t that hard. I always put my main priorities first, which is family, school, and track. Whatever extra time I have left I spend with my friends. Track is awesome because it allows me to work with the people I love and people who I’ve grown close to over the years almost everyday. Senior year has been an easy, yet hard school year, but everything’s worked out well to where I feel like I’m still a ‘normal teenager.’ Someone who’s not slammed with school 24/7 can still have a social life after the hard work is done.”
Q: How has attending Batavia High School these past four years impacted you and your track career as a whole?
A: “My freshman year at Batavia I actually was a two-sport athlete. I played softball for one of the top teams in the nation and also began track season. Once my freshman year was over I knew track was what I wanted to do for my future, so I ended up quitting softball and put 100 percent of my focus and effort into track. Each year at Batavia, I’ve gained friendship and learning experiences, especially with track. Having JA (Justin Allison) as my coach is one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. He has taught me so much over the years and helped build me into who I am today. Without being a Batavia student-athlete, my team, and coaches, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Q: What’s next for you?
A: “What’s next for me is finishing my senior year strong. Then the great future. My goal is to pursue a great track career at Illinois State for the next four years and then go into the medical field. I really want to be an ER nurse, then go on from there to possibly being a doctor, or even a surgeon one day. I get so much joy from helping others, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds. Life’s a long journey, but so far it’s been a fun one.”