Schmitt finds acceptance on UW tracks

April 16, 2008

By Honsen Lin

The Daily

Sophomore distance runner Jake Schmitt set the University's third fastest 10,000-meter run at the Stanford Invitational on April 5.

The race was Schmitt's first 10-kilometer race in two years and held special meaning for Schmitt, as it placed him right behind his mentor, junior Jeremy Mineau, on the UW men's rack team.

'To be the third fastest in school history means more than just running a time,' Schmitt said. 'It gives me a place within Washington track and field. I feel now that I am really part of the team, the history and the school. I am so glad to be a part of such an amazing and rich history.'

Schmitt, who transferred from University of California in Berkeley last year, said he came to the UW because of track coach Greg Metcalf's coaching style.

'Whenever I would race against Washington, coach Metcalf was somebody who stood out to me on the peripheral as being really motivated, really passionate for his athletes and really dedicated to cross-country and track and field as a sport and a way of life,' Schmitt said.

Schmitt also wanted to stay in the Pac-10.

'Our conference for distance running is extremely competitive, and it's kind of the pinnacle of the NCAA.'

In addition, Schmitt likes the big, public university feel of the UW campus, which is similar to that of UC Berkeley.

Schmitt was unsure whether his teammates would accept a former competitor into their ranks, but his fears were unfounded.

'My experience here at Washington has been amazing from the very first day on campus,' Schmitt wrote in an e-mail. 'My teammates are wonderful companions and have always been right at my side, helping me establish myself as a Husky. Everyone on this team shares the same goal of wanting to win, and that is a great thing to be a part of.'

Both of Schmitt's parents ran track for California in the 1980s, and his mother was the track coach at his high school.

'When I was little, I used to beg my parents to go out and go running,' Schmitt said. 'They made me wait.'

So Schmitt waited and started running competitively starting freshman year in high school. These days, running is an even bigger part of his life.

Schmitt begins his days with a five- to six-mile morning run before he goes to classes. Then he goes to his economics and psychology classes with a hurried lunch break in between. At about 3 p.m., Schmitt shows up to track practice and runs more. The rest of his waking time, he studies.

'Running has, and always will be, a defining characteristic of mine,' Schmitt said. 'If all goes according to plan, I would be very grateful to run professionally. No matter what, I see myself running for the rest of my life. If I can make a humble living off of such a gift it would be a huge blessing.'

While running may be Schmitt's ultimate passion, he values his education as well, and pursues an MBA in preparation for his life off the track when he graduates in 2010.