Sports & Rec Editor
The focus for a cross country runner is often on the journey, the miles between the starting point and the finish line. For Jared Schatz, a senior runner for Messiah who was recently named MAC Runner of the Week, that mantra applied for his role on the team as well.
“Each year has included some very helpful maturing situations for Jared to navigate, and he has certainly grown in positive ways,” said head coach Dale Fogelsanger.
This season, he used those positive gains to get off to a strong start, winning both of Messiah cross country’s first two races, a 5K at Dickinson and an 8K at Misericordia. The first place finishes were enough to earn Schatz his first career MAC Runner of the Week award.
“At Misericordia, he was with the lead pack through 1.5 miles, then led another race through 3, then separated, never thinking backwards,” said Fogelsanger.
Once a more reserved freshman, Schatz “developed into a great racer, leader, and confident, yet humble, young man,” according to Fogelsanger.
Schatz’s running performances had started to build to a high point last season with his qualification and appearance at the 2015 NCAA Division III Track and Field Nationals.
Despite all of his individual success, Schatz says his priority is accomplishing the team goal, which is to reach nationals. The Falcons are looking ahead to the Long-Short Invitational at Dickinson and the Mike Woods Invitational in New York, both of which have a large regional and national impact on the Falcon’s team ranking.
Schatz says he is excited to head into this challenging part of the season, especially with a group of seniors who have now had several years of experience running together.
“My freshman year, 6 of the 7 guys contributing were freshman”, said Schatz, “It’s been great to grow as a class.”
Schatz feels the freshman class this year is critical and hopes they experience the same growth he has had during his time running for the Falcons. With Fogelsanger at the helm of the team, it’s likely that will continue as a theme for the seasons to come.
“I love seeing the athletes go through (the transformational) year from 18-22, and I am honored to be a part of that,”said Fogelsanger.