Junior Schmitt speeds past Conference

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Clare Lawler

Junior Nate Schmitt is the top runner on the boys cross country team at LFHS, winning race after race. His teammates respect him, his coach says he is honored to coach him, his competitors likely envy him — yet he remains humble.

“It truly has been a privilege as a coach to have been able to work with a tremendously talented and hardworking athlete, but more importantly it’s been a great privilege to work with such a kind and wonderful young man that Nate Schmitt is,” said Varsity Cross Country Coach Jacob Buddell.

Schmitt won the North Suburban Conference meet Saturday with a time of 15:20 for the three mile race. The team finished fifth. They will compete at Regionals on Saturday.

Schmitt’s personal record for a three mile race is 14:55, which he received on LFHS’ own course. A three mile time of 14:55 means that Schmitt was running under five minute miles for each of the three consecutive miles. Schmitt has won eight out of the 10 races.

He didn’t always want to be a runner—originally he saw a future for himself in basketball. However, shortly after he ran his first race, he realized he wanted to run.

Schmitt said his favorite part of cross country is the competition on race day, which is the most painful part of cross country for many.

“When I’m in a race, the whole environment is different. It’s not like you’re struggling alone, you’re struggling with your team,” he said.

A cross country race is when teams race against other teams in their conference on a three mile course, running through grass, hills, and oftentimes mud. The teams have to run their very hardest for three miles straight which is a very difficult test of endurance.

Cross country is truly Schmitt’s life; he runs during his free time and when he isn’t running, he is researching races where he can run or looking at the top high school runners in the state (and spotting his own name).

Over the summer, Schmitt traveled to Lanzada, Italy, to represent the USA in the International Mountain Running Youth Club.

Schmitt dreams of running in college; he said his top colleges are the Naval Academy and Auburn.

“It would not surprise me to see Nate’s name in the newspaper and on the internet from the success he is having racing in college when the time comes,” said Buddell.

As a team captain, Schmitt is a vital member of his cross country team.

“He is nice to everyone and always encourages everyone during practice,” junior Carson Ward said.

During races, Schmitt cheers for his teammates as soon as he is done running. He is known for giving inspirational speeches before each race.

“From the first runner to the last, Nate is out there screaming and cheering them on until the run is over,” Buddell said.

Buddell said Schmitt is always willing to help his teammates and give them advice, all while remaining humble; he never acts superior to anyone.

“I’ve always told other coaches this about Nate: previous times and places might give you a sense of how other runners will compare to Nate, but to actually beat him in a race you will just have to put your spikes on and race your heart out, because that is exactly what Nate is going to do,” said Buddell.