BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity Catholic’s Brett Schneider runs track for Fort Madison High School. Next year she’ll run for UNI, but this Saturday, she’s running at Drake University in the Drake Relays.
Schneider, a senior on the FMHS squad, is a prolific middle distance runner helping on 4×800 relays, typically finishing in the top 3 at most events in the 800-meter run, if not winning it outright.
But on Saturday she won’t be using batons and won’t be running two laps. She’ll be running hurdles on the blue oval. An event in which her mother Carrie qualified for state in high school.
Schneider was hampered in the early track season with an ankle injury she sustained during basketball, as well as her senior class trip to Washington D.C. that started her season a bit late.
“Honestly at the beginning of the season I was hurt from basketball with an ankle sprain,” she said. “We ended up going to Steindler (Clinic ) and they said I was ok, that it wasn’t hurt that bad and I should just take it easy. So that’s what I did, but I thought Drake was out of the picture.”
Schneider qualified at Washington last week with a time that was 16th best in the state. Drake only takes the top 16 runners in the event.
Head Coach Brian Mendez said it’s not only remarkable that Schneider has qualified, but she didn’t even start running the 400-hurdles until last year as a junior about five meets into the season.
“She had never run the 400 before last year at Van Buren,” Mendez said. “There’s really not much she can’t do. She’s qualified and this Saturday she’ll be ranked 16th out of 16 so she has nothing to lose and everything to gain. We don’t go very far to find good competition down here. Fairfield has a really fast girl and Mt. Pleasant has some legit talent. Honestly, I think she’s gonna give ’em a race.”
Schneider said she was a bit skiddish working the hurdles at the beginning of the season.
“The first meet I didn’t want to try hurdles, but once we got the season going I said, ‘Ok I’ll work hurdles to get my form down’. Our first meet in Washington was my first time and I didn’t run them very well but I just told myself to keep practicing. Then I ran a really good time at Mt. Pleasant and after a couple more meets I was able to get my time down. And then at our meet in Washington last week I barely made it to Drake.”
Schneider is not unfamiliar with the blue oval. She ran several events last year at state and also qualified for Drake as a freshman and sophomore in the 4×800. She didn’t qualify in an event as junior, but made it to state in Fort Dodge in cross country.
“I’m ranked 16th out of 16, but I know there’s hardly any time between me and the faster heat… maybe a second or so. If I have my ‘A’ game, I could place higher than I’m ranked and that’s what I’m after. Just go out and run a PR (personal record) and hopefully not be last,” she said.
The Relays will run two heats of the event with the faster heat running second. The race is set for 12:45 p.m.
After this season, Schneider will run for the University of Northern Iowa as a preferred walk-on.
“With that status you’re a full team member with all the exposure to the track team, but you just don’t get any money. I just have to prove myself there and hopefully get on scholarship at some point.”
She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after school and was considering a two-year program and a four-year program.
“I’ve always wanted to run at the next level. I didn’t know where to go and I didn’t know what I wanted to do to be honest. I was kind of waiting for offers and then UNI contacted me to come visit to be a preferred walk-on. UNI was in the back of my mind because I wanted to be teacher. I really liked the campus, the school is amazing, and the athletics are awesome,” she said.