Melanie Schultz runs with the boys.
Women’s cross-country has suddenly taken notice of the junior, who went from being a nameless face in a sea of runners to the lead of the pack in the Gator Invitational last week. Schultz brought home a second place finish, opening the eyes of the coaches that stood by watching and wondering where her speed came from.
Her training is intense: a daily routine of working out, running and eating based on a strict diet, but this girl has it down to a science. All Schultz’s sacrifices have given her an opportunity to excel in her sport beyond what she could have dreamed of as a sophomore in high school, when she first began her career as a runner.
“When I finished high school, I thought I was done,” Schultz said. “I never expected to run at a collegiate level. It took a long time to get my body in the shape it needed to be in so I was able to run quickly.”
Now, Schultz is one of the top female runners at UM and believed by Head Coach Mike Ward to have the potential to be the best runner the university has ever had on the women’s cross-country team.
Schultz’s efforts and talent have earned her the right to train with the male squad, which has a more rigorous workout routine.
“Melanie’s work ethic is amazing whether she’s running or not,” Ward said. “She has the ability to handle a great deal of responsibilities at once. I am excited about what she is going to achieve this year as a result of her hard work.”
Schultz’s personal goal for the season is to be able to qualify at the Regionals for the NCAA Championships. As for the team as a whole, she wants to see them work together to improve their times rather than focus on competing well against the other schools.
“This school has given me the opportunity to get where I am, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere else,” Schultz said.
This ‘Cane has aspirations of running marathons after her college career is over.
“I’d really love to be able to get my time to where I can race in the Olympic trials someday,” Schultz said.
Schultz said that having a successful year depends on consistent training.
“You have to do the work during the summer,” she said. “The season doesn’t start in August; it starts in June with the training. If you don’t work hard then, you can’t expect to improve dramatically during the season.”
Stacey Arnold can be contacted at email@example.com.