Destroying the competition in sections would make anyone feel great, but Hutchinson eighth-grader Isabelle Schmitz has put high standards on herself to try to improve every race. After winning the Section 2AA meet last week by nearly a minute, Schmidt is bringing her high standards to state for a second straight year.

“I knew that I was going to go to state this year unless I had a horrible (section),” she said. “Winning was still an achievement for me, and especially having it back to back with conference. That really made me feel good and confident going into state.”

What helped Schmitz take the next step in her development as a top runner was coming up with a strategy for races. Her experience of moving from the middle school team to varsity last year taught her how to develop a pace.

“A lot of my racing strategy last year was, I would get really excited at the beginning and start really fast,” Schmitz said. “That never really worked out. Sometimes it did, but that was a lot of luck.”

The Class AA girls state race is 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Schmitz will be lining up in Lane 9 with other Section 2AA individual qualifiers.

Going into this year’s state meet, Schmitz knows she’ll need a good plan if she hopes to accomplish her lofty goals.

As one of the youngest runners at state last year, she took 22nd place to earn all-state with a time of 18:36. Schmitz is hoping to beat that time, which she believes is easily achievable. Her other goal, however, may a bit more difficult.

“I want to place and get a medal this year,” Schmitz said. “That would be great.”

The top 10 individuals earn medals. In the final coaches poll, Schmitz was not ranked in the top 10 but was listed as an honorable mention.

Wherever the eighth-grader finishes, she knows she’ll have plenty more opportunities at state, as long as she keeps her standards high and continues to push herself to improve.

“Looking into the future, I might even be looking at a state championship,” Schmitz said. “But that’s not this year, I’m guessing. There’s a lot of work to be done for that.”

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