Former Prairie star Valerie Schmidt became Corban University track and field’s first national champion when she won the heptathlon at the NAIA championships last week in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Schmidt won thanks to personal-best performances in the last three events — the long jump, javelin and 800 meters.
Schmidt’s long jump mark of 18 feet, 0.5 inch was a Corban school record. Her heptathlon score of 5,158 points was also a school record.
Her 800 time of 2 minutes, 23.94 seconds gave her the overall lead for the first time. Schmidt had to beat Lauren Tamayo of Hasting’s College by 1.5 seconds. She outpaced her rival by more than three seconds to win by 19 points.
“I ran my heart and guts out,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t know that I won until I saw the board with my time. It was a bizarre experience. All my work, all the trials and strife I had gone through all added up. I do not exaggerate when I say this was the hardest heptathlon I’ve ever had. Every moment challenged me. I was praying constantly. I wanted desperately to win but I had to check my heart and let it be okay if I didn’t.”