Winthrop’s Jillian Schmezler made the final turn at the 400-meter dash at the Mountain Valley Conference championships with no one or nothing but history in front of her. The conference record in the event was within reach, but the junior was thinking about something else besides her place in the books.

During the race, I was just thinking ‘This sucks,’ ” she said, laughing.

Such a thought can be understood. The fastest girl in the MVC was one of the busiest yesterday, running her way to victory in the 100, 200 and 400 and anchoring Winthrop’s second-place 4×400 team.

But while her day was already outstanding, it was nearly unprecedentedly so. Her 100 time, 12.68 seconds, was only .28 off the meet record. Her 200 time, 26.73, was .39 off the mark. And her 400 time, 59.86, was .06 — six-hundredths of a second — away.

“She’s a workhorse,” Winthrop sprinting and jumping coach Cam Fecteau said. “Every meet we go to, it’s ‘What’s going to happen next?’ It’s exciting to see what she can do with her capability. … It’s entirely her and her work ethic.”

By winning the 100 and 200 she defended her crowns from last May, but the 400 was different. Schmelzer didn’t run the 400 last year, and sprinters rarely do. The 400 requires a different style of running; it settles right into that groove between mid-distance and sprinting. Run it like a dash, and you’ll burn yourself out. Run it like the mile, and you’re playing catch up soon after the starting gun.


But with Winthrop struggling to get a 4×100 team together this season, Schmelzer had an opening in her workload. The 400 was an option. And she was eager to try it.

The 400 was kind of a scary thing that we thought about for this year, but we knew that she was capable of it,” Fecteau said. “She was all on board with it.”

Schmelzer said she approached the 400 the way she did the more familiar 100 and 200, and it took a while for her to adjust.

“In the beginning of the season, I struggled. It was hard to try to keep that same pace,” she said. “But I think once you do the 400 and keep doing it, you feel more comfortable. It hurts, but you become prepared for it.”

What’s even more unheard of is for someone to tackle the 100, the 200, the 400, and then do the 400 as part of a relay. Schmelzer had done pieces throughout the season — a 400 with a 100, or a 400 with a 200. But never all three together.

Until Thursday.


I knew today was going to be a tough day,” Schmelzer said.

“She’s a strong person, mentally and physically,” Fecteau said. “That’s a huge attribute for track, you need to work through that pain. Especially in that 400.”

Schmelzer began her day in the 100, where she dusted her competition by seven-tenths of a second, creating a bigger gap between herself and second than second and seventh. No problem.

Then came the 400, where Schmelzer was seeded at 59.03 after a winning run at last week’s Capital City Classic. The record was 59.8, and the watch was on. Schmelzer was comfortably in front halfway through and all alone down the stretch, and won easily though the time read that she missed the mark by a heartbeat.

No matter. Schmelzer knew she had done enough.

It’s good to finish and know that you gave it 100 percent. I think that’s the best you take out of it,” she said. “I had a faster time at Cony, so this meet I wanted to either beat that or try to get the MVC record. Today wasn’t it, but I tried my best, and I knew I had more stuff on my plate.”


That she did. Her next event was the 200, where she again left her opponents battling for second, winning by 1.65 seconds. Thoughts after Win No. 3?

“Tired,” she said between breaths.

Tired, sure, but not done. There was still the 4×400 relay, where Schmelzer took the baton in third and got the Ramblers up to second by the time she crossed the line, upping her point haul for the day to 38.

Finally, there was chance to rest. At least until the Class C championships next week.

She just has a strong work ethic,” Fecteau said. “She goes 110 percent in practice and it’s nice to see that that’s starting to pay off now, especially in this competitive season.”

And if the call for the daunting quadruple-header comes again, she’ll be ready.

I’m willing to push it for the team,” she said. “Because that’s what you do.”

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