Unfinished business at state for Algoma’s Borths
By Josh Staloch
ALGOMA – Logan Borths had wanted to get involved in track and field since middle school.
Born with spina bifida, a birth defect that results in mobility issues due to the spinal column not forming properly, leaving him without the use of his legs from the knees up, he needed a specialized wheelchair to make that happen and it simply wasn’t available to him as a younger student.
But by the time freshman year at Algoma High arrived, a chair was ready for him and Borths was looking forward to beginning his journey as a track and field athlete.
What happened next might sound familiar for a lot of high school athletes: COVID-19 stole an entire year of fun and athletic growth for Logan.
The anticipation got worse for Borths as he was also denied competing in his sophomore year due to having a major medical procedure performed to fuse two titanium rods to either side of his spine.
“When that happened, I felt like I was missing so much,” Borths said. “My peers were growing, I’m still hearing stories about things that happened during the time I was gone. There was a lot of anxiety there, it felt like things were moving on without me. But track, it got my head cleared.”
He finally got going in earnest last season as a junior with the Wolves and hasn’t looked back.
Starting with the 100 and 400-meter events, he worked his way into the 800-meter run as well as the shot put by the end of that first season of competition and went to the state meet in LaCrosse, where he said he did well but that he’s looking forward to making some improvements.
At last season’s state meet, in the 100-meter event, Borths said a less-than-perfect start cost him a gold medal and that he’s looking forward to another shot at it this year.
“I was furious,” he said. “All the conditions were right for me to have a first place finish.”
That frustration aside, Borths’ junior year numbers next to this year’s stats tell the story of an athlete who has made serious strides,
In last season’s D3 Sectionals held in Rosholt, Borths posted an even 19.00 seconds in the 100-meter event, the best time of his junior year.
This year, for the Packerland Conference Meet at St. Norbert College, he shaved more than a half second off of that mark with a time of 18.46.
Also at this season’s Packerland Conference Meet, Borths posted a personal best time of 2:42.98 in the 800-meter event, 10 seconds faster than last year’s best time of 2:32.19, recorded at the State Meet in LaCrosse.
His aptitude for the shot put follows the trend also, with this year’s best toss (so far) came during the conference meet at SNC at 15’8.75”, significantly further than his 14’0.5” best of 2022.
For perspective, in his first varsity meet in Sevastopol as a junior, Borths threw a 10’4”.
His favorite events are the 400 and 800-meter runs.
He’s done the distance events but they’re just not as fun as the sprints.
He started doing the 1600 this year and, while it was good to give himself the knowledge that he could make it through the long distance roll, he simply doesn’t like it as much.
“It’s such a different pacing from the four and the eight. And so you can’t run it like an 800. And every time I’ve run it, there’s been bad winds. So when I’m up to speed and I’m supposed to be getting in really big strides, I’m not able to because the wind is challenging my speed. So I have to move to shorter strides from there so I can maintain speed, But it’s sapping a lot more energy. By the time I get out of the wind, I’m just trying to keep whatever momentum I had, to get a break until I’m back in that wind again,” he explained.
Algoma head track and field coach Steve Schmiling said he’s pleased with how Borths has progressed in both his physical fitness and his mental approach to competition.
“It’s been awesome overall,” Schmiling said of coaching Borths. “It puts a different perspective on everything and its really opened my eyes, just being able to translate what we do with our other athletes, we convert their training and what they do for him and what he’s doing out there. But being able to explain things differently and have different methodologies that correlate a little better to what (Logan) does, it’s made me an adaptive coach.”
Borths doesn’t see other wheelchair athletes during regular season competition and so, when the state meet arrives, the real challenge begins.
“It’s definitely hard to adjust to live competition. My times against myself are one thing but after going through state last year, I know what the adrenaline is like and how much going up against other people changes your times. It’s pretty significant. So I always want to see what my times look like when I’m up against other people.”
Coach Schmiling expects Borths to compete hard at this year’s state meet.
“Give it all you can and leave everything out there, just like anybody,” Schmiling said. We talk about it all the time and now, it’s that time of the season. Leave knowing that you did your best, don’t worry about the competition, just give it your all.”
Borths agreed immediately.
“That’s the cool thing about track. It’s not necessarily about your competition and just because I don’t see competition in the regular season doesn’t mean I can’t be ready. At the end of the day, it’s me. I’m a senior this year and so I’m expecting to do well, top three in my events at state,” he said.
His journey to becoming a well-rounded athlete pairs nicely with the other extra curriculars in Borths’ life.
He plays alto saxophone in the school band and sings tenor for the choir.
He participates in Destination Imagination and last year, he completed his requirements to become an Eagle Scout.
“I’ve always had to advocate for myself and I had to learn how to do that,” Borths said. “I’m the one who knows best and finding a way to adapt to everything in my life is very important. The last thing anyone wants is to feel like they can’t do something. So, I’ve always tried to make sure I’m doing as much as I possibly can, living my life to the fullest. If that means adapting to something, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find a way to make it work for me.”
Borths plans to go to college in Mequon, where he will study speech-language pathology for six years at Concordia University.
While there, he said he plans to join the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, located in Lake Forest, Ill., so that he can continue to compete athletically after his high school career is over.