By Sophie Aanerud
Thursday, May 28th marked the beginning of the three-day State Championship in high school 2A, 3A, and 4A division track and field. Some of the best high school track and field athletes in the state congregated in Tacoma for the meet, including two from Roosevelt. Among the pool of competing Roosevelt athletes was junior Helen Schuda, who placed seventh in the 3,200m. The longest event in high school track, the 3,200 consists of a grueling eight laps around the track . . . which Schuda finished in 11:09.55, three seconds short of her season personal record.
While participating in any state event is impressive, even more impressive is the fact that Schuda is no stranger to the state competition. Only a few weeks after joining the school’s varsity cross country team in her freshman year, Schuda went to state in cross country with the team. “Our team had a record-setting season that year, and it was inspiring to be a part of it as a freshman. Running at state gave me the personal motivation I needed in order to train hard and come back strong the next year,” explains Schuda. Every year since, she has competed in state for cross country, albeit only in the individual categories.
This year, however, marked Schuda’s first experience competing in the state competition for track. Reflecting upon the event as both exciting and humbling, Schuda adds that, “The day that I competed, I was the only Roosevelt athlete in a crowd of about 5,000 athletes and spectators, so it was quite overwhelming. Still, I felt honored to be there with so many great athletes and I had lots of support from friends, family and coaches.” Her strong performance went to show that the competition’s more overwhelming elements didn’t keep Schuda from finding her stride.
Having begun by participating in track at the local community center in elementary school, Schuda has long been an avid runner, especially passionate about distance running. “I love how running builds self-confidence as well as a sense of community,” explains Schuda, “The race is really about conquering your own mind and body, and testing your own ability to handle pain. It’s an incredibly difficult and painful sport, but the feeling you have when you’ve finished— when you know you’ve spent every ounce of energy in your body— is like nothing else.”
Poised to begin her final year at Roosevelt, there is no doubt that Schuda, with her kindness, skill, and enthusiasm, will continue to inspire and help instill passion in the next generation of young runners.
Featured Photo: Schuda competes in the 1600m at the Metro Championship meet. Photo by Nathan Smith.