Isabelle Schmitz earned her first state track and field medals ever, and there’s no telling how many more are in her future. The seventh-grader was one of three Hutchinson track and field athletes who competed in the Class 2A state track and field meet last weekend at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Schmitz was the highlight of the weekend, earning fifth place in the 3200 run Friday and ninth place in the 1600 run Saturday. In her state debut, her 3200 time of 11:03.86 was a personal record, beating her seed time by almost five seconds to move up one spot, which was her goal. She was the lone middle school runner to finish in the top 11.
Though she ran in the state cross country meet last fall, Schmitz said the state track experience was different with a fraction of the runners in a single race.
“It was really scary to just have such a low place and such a high place so close together,” Schmitz said. “For the most part I was really excited to run with those people, because I knew I could really push myself to get a better time. So it was a really great experience for me.”
In the 1600 race, Schmitz said the final stretch is what made the difference between her earning a medal and just missing out.
“It really came down to the last 100 meters and that was really stressful, trying to sprint it out,” she said. “I got passed and I couldn’t keep up, so I needed to pass somebody else. It was just a lot of thinking in that last couple of seconds there. That was quite the amazing last 100.”
She dropped nearly three seconds from her seed to finish in 5:09.53. As she moves into her eighth-grade season, Schmitz hopes to drop her time under five minutes, which would have placed her in the top three in this year’s meet.
“That’s a little-bit-out-there of a goal,” she said, “but I feel like it’s within reach. If I put my mind to it and really work for it, I think I could get there.”
Upperclassmen make state debuts
The other two Tigers at state were senior Riley Jenum and junior Lydia Gross. Jenum kicked off his graduation day with his first-ever state appearance.
“It was probably the most nervous that I’ve been for a race,” he said, “just because I’ve never had that high level of competition and I didn’t really know what those guys were going to be putting out for times. It was really nerve-racking.”
He competed in the 400 dash prelims on Friday and finished with a time of 51.24. He placed 13th overall, missing Saturday’s final by 0.72 seconds. It would have taken a time near his personal record to reach finals.
“I think I maybe underestimated the other guys competing in my heat,” he said. “They took off fast, and by the end of the race it was too late to catch up because they stayed strong the whole time.”
Gross had two events on her plate Friday with the 100 and 300 hurdles prelims.
“I was really nervous for my 100s,” she said. “I got in the blocks and I was like, ‘OK, you can do this,’ and I got all relaxed and I was ready.”
She finished 11th in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.72, missing finals by 0.14 seconds. She later finished 13th in the 300 hurdles, posting a time of 46.83 to miss the finals by 1.1 seconds. Both times were her second-best of the season, and Gross hopes to carry the momentum into next year.
“I’m excited for next year, and I think that I’ll be able to start stronger than what I did this year,” she said. “It was harder to get into it this year from being off for almost a whole season last year because I sprained my ankle. It was tough to get back into it.”
Gross enjoyed competing with the best in the state and hopes to see some of the top competition earlier in the season next year.
“I want to try to make it to the Hamline Elite meet,” she said, “and get some competition earlier in the season so that I can focus on that, and then maybe have a better chance at state to get a medal, because then I’d be more comfortable running with higher competition.”
Class 2A State Track and Field Meet — Day One (Hamline University, June 7)
Girls 3200 finals - 1. Lauren Peterson (Rosemount) 10:38.03 ... 5. Isabelle Schmitz (Hutch) 11:03.86
Girls 100 hurdles prelims - 1. Evelyn Adams (Edina) 14.47 ... 11. Lydia Gross (Hutch) 15.72
Girls 300 hurdles prelims - 1. Erika Townley (White Bear Lake) 43.80, 13. Lydia Gross (Hutch) 46.83
Boys 400 dash prelims - 1. Julian Wright (DeLaSalle) 48.83 ... 13. Riley Jenum (Hutch) 51.24
Class 2A State Meet — Day Two ( Hamline University, June 8)
Girls 1600 run finals - 1. Lauren Peterson (Rosemount) 4:52.69 ... 9. Isabelle Schmitz (Hutch) 5:09.53