Schultz emerges from pack as top cross-country runner

Melanie Schultz runs with the boys.

Women’s cross-country has 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 season. Schultz brought home a second-place finish.

Her training is intense: a daily routine of working out, running and eating based on a strict diet. 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.”

Head Coach Mike Ward said he believes Schultz has the potential to be the best runner the university has had on the women’s cross-country team.

Schultz’s efforts and talent have earned her the right to train with the male squad, who 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 as a result of her work.”

“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.

Schultz 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 just start in August.”

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at