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2x State Champion: Orson Hoogendorn Reflects on Standout Year, Looks to the Future

Orson Hoogendorn leads the 400m event at the Division II State Championships held at Dimond High School in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Orson Hoogendorn.

Nome-Beltz High School’s Orson Hoogendorn earned first place in the 400m Division 2 State Championship in late May. Hoogendorn entered the final race after setting a personal best 51.74 in the preliminary heat, a time he subsequently beat by one-hundredth of a second in the final. The high school junior attributed the pressure of state-level competition to his first place finish.  

“In previous races I wasn’t racing anybody with a time like mine, so I was always in the front. But when I came in this race I expected to just be in the middle of the pack. I ended up in the front, and I said ‘well I have this lead, I better just give it all I have right now while I have it.’” Hoogendorn said. 

Before the final Hoogendorn tried to calm his nerves, feeling reassured that he could keep up with the best of the best.

“I was like, okay now I know I have a shot at this. I was confident but I was still really nervous,” Hoogendorn said. “I usually tell myself to leave it all out there. It’s only 400 meters, so you can whine about it afterwards.”

Then-sophomore Orson Hoogendorn of Nome-Beltz competing in a cross country meet. (Photo from James Mason, used with permission 2022)

Hoogendorn’s recent success in track is just one chapter in a broader athletic story that includes accomplishments in basketball, cross country, wrestling, and the Native Youth Olympics (NYO). Just last September the junior secured first place at the Region 1: Big West Conference XC Championships, finishing the 5K event with a time of 19:23. He went on to earn eighth place at the ASAA State Championships (Division 2) in October.

One of Hoogendorn’s proudest achievements has been playing for the Nome-Beltz High School basketball team. This year, Hoogendorn sank a three pointer with 2.3 seconds left in the 3A State Championship to clinch the win for the Nanooks. When putting on his Nome-Beltz-blue uniform, Hoogendorn takes pride in helping to place his school and city on the map. 

“We were in a drought for a while, and people didn’t really see us as contenders. And then we went in my freshman year and then we won, it kind of became a standard,” Hoogendorn said. “So it’s kind of like, wow, people are starting to know more about Nome.”

Looking ahead to his senior year Hoogendorn has high aspirations. 

“I’m still thinking about wrestling, but it’s a risky one because injuries are so high and it overlaps with basketball. But I’ll definitely be doing NYO again, cross country, track. Pretty much all of them,” he said. 

Hoogendorn admits that while he doesn’t usually train for sports, he hopes to take another step forward in his athletic career by getting extra reps in this summer, particularly for NYO. He credits the support of his coaches for their role in both his athletic and personal development.

“Nome-Beltz has really good coaches. I feel like not only in athletics, but they definitely make you a better person,” he said.

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