Former Prairie High School student wins GNAC decathlon

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Former Prairie High School student Steven Schmidt won the Great Northwest Atlantic Conference track and field decathlon as a freshman at Northwest Nazarene University on May 3.

Schmidt secured a high jump of 6 feet, 8.75 inches, had a javelin throw of 168 feet, 11 inches, and placed third in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet, 2.5 inches. In the discus, he threw for 113 feet, 11 inches, he completed the 110-meter hurdles in 15.98 seconds, and secured a distance of 13 feet, 3.5 inches in the pole vault. Schmidt won the decathlon with a total of 6,488 points.

“It feels awesome to win,” Schmidt said. “But in an event like the decathlon, you know you can always do better. I was hoping for more points, so to not get that was a bit of a letdown. However, I was happy with the way it ended overall.”

Schmidt said he also ran a “good 1500 (meter dash).”  Schmidt aims to reach 7,000 points next year, and hopes to secure a spot to compete in the national tournament.

The weather on May 3 was around 50 degrees, which Schmidt said posed a challenge.

“(The temperature) is something everybody has to deal with and I feel like I handled it decently,” he said. “I think I definitely could have prepared a little better. It was pretty competitive, so I had to stay intense during the whole meet and stay in focus.”

Schmidt’s father, Frank, is proud of his son’s results as well.

“I’m so excited,” said Frank. “He’s really worked very hard. He’s got a great coach at NNU. I’m a volunteer coach there as well, and his main multi event coach John Mahr has a great relationship with him and they’ve been working on a lot of different events.”

Frank said he has coached Schmidt from the time he was 5 to his senior year of high school. 

“To see him go from doing very well in the junior Olympics to high school and now to college in his freshman year already, it’s pretty awesome,” Frank said.

When Schmidt first started to participate in track, his father said he was social and “happy-go-lucky.” At that time he didn’t focus as much on the competition, but soon that changed. 

“In the last couple years of high school, he really started to excel in the high jump in particular and other events as well,” Frank said. “I have six kids and five of them have done the (track) multi events and really enjoyed it. (Steven) has come a long way.”

Frank said he grew up playing football and track in high school and at the University of Pennsylvania. He had to stop participating in the decathlon in his senior year of college due to an injury, so he switched over to single events instead.

“It’s kind of what drove me to be the coach that I am today,” Frank said. “I’m a very strong advocate for athletes staying healthy and getting what they need to succeed.”

Steven Schmidt competed in the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 13 and May 14. Northwest Nazarene took second place with 28 personal records, eight GNAC runner-ups, and six GNAC champions.

Schmidt was voted the “Male Athlete of the Meet” and received the GNAC title in the high jump with 6 feet, 8.25 inches. His other personal records were eighth in the pole vault with 14 feet, 0.5 inches and eighth in javelin with 171 feet.

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