As an unknown freshman in the fall of 2015, Waterloo’s Jenna Schwartz was the surprise of the girls cross country season in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
She not only qualified for the Class 2A State Cross Country Meet, but earned all-state recognition with a 24th place finish in her first look at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
But like all athletes, Schwartz wanted more.
“I trained hard all summer and was hoping that I would have a good season and that we as a team could get to the state finals,” she said. “My individual goals were just to run faster and do better than I did a year ago.”
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Schwartz breezed to the MVC title, then won both the Triad Regional and Decatur MacArthur Sectional. Her 17 minute, 22-second time on the three-mile course at Detweiller Park was well behind state champion Jenna Lutkow of Belvidere North, but was 33 seconds faster than the year before and worth a sixth-place finish.
Schwartz is the only female runner in Waterloo history to earn a state cross country medal, let alone two of them.
It has earned her Belleville News-Democrat Co-Runner of the Year honors, which she shares with O’Fallon junior Brooke Witzel.
As meaningful to Schwartz as her individual achievement are those of her Bulldog teammates.
The emergence of runners such as freshman Sydney Haddick and sophomore Ella King helped Waterloo earn a berth in the state finals and a respectable 13th-place team finish.
“That was very important to me because I knew if we worked hard that we had a good chance of making it to the state meet as a team,” Schwartz said. “I remember last year, we placed sixth in the sectional and missed getting to state by one spot. Running at state a year ago for the first time, I was nervous. But I remember how exciting it was for me. This year I wanted the team to have that same experience.”
Schwartz, who grew up playing several sports including softball, has been running for most of her life. But after developing a love for distance running, she has competed in just track and field and cross country since the sixth grade.
Her top-25 finish in the state finals a year ago may have come as some surprise, but her fast start in 2016 validated her status as one of the state’s top sophomores.
Schwartz opened the season by winning the Granite City Invitational. Her other regular season victories came at the Edwardsville Invite and Freeburg Invite. Her best time of the season, 17:22, came at state and is the school record.
“Physically I was stronger, and I think I was able to go out faster. My kick needs work, and I’m hoping that will improve as time goes on,” Schwartz said. “I took a week off after the season, and now I’m running and getting ready for the indoor track and field season.”
2016 Belleville News-Democrat Girls All-Area Cross Country Team
Runners of the Year
Brooke Witzel, O’Fallon, junior
Jenna Schwartz, Waterloo, soph.
Coach of the Year
David Kohnen, Mater Dei
Class 1A First Team
Breanna Chandler: Freeburg, fr.
Elyse Faust: Mater Dei, so.
Ashley Gilmore, Freeburg, sr.
Sophia Lager: Mater Dei, sr.
Tiffani Siekmann: Althoff , so.
Sarozjani Hunter, Governor French Academy, sr.
Kristen Collier: Freeburg, sr.
Kayla Whitworth: Freeburg, jr.
Faith Rackers, Mater Dei, fr.
Malina Isaak, Mater Dei, jr.
Sabrina Kollbaum: Nashville, fr.
Grace Maschhoff, Nashville, so.
Class 2A First Team
Jenna Schwartz, Waterloo, so.
Samantha Hengehold, Highland, fr.
Sarah Beth Wiegman, Highland, sr.
Melanie Cozzi, Mascoutah, sr.
Mackenzie Dixon, Mascoutah, sr.
Ella King, Waterloo, so.
Arianna Climaco, Mascoutah, fr.
Maddie Keller, Triad, jr.
Sydney Haddick, Waterloo, fr.
Madi Walter, Triad, jr.
Julia Kapp, Mascoutah, fr.
Class 3A First Team
Brooke Witzel, O’Fallon, jr.
Abby Korak, Edwardsville, fr.
Abby Schrobilgen, Edwardsville, so.
Jaycie Hudson, Edwardsville, so.
Melissa Spencer, Edwardsville, jr.
Seleiya Wilson, Belleville East, jr.
Kaitlyn Walker, O’Fallon, fr.
Sophie Wichlac, O’Fallon, fr.
Julianna Determan, Edwardsville, sr.
Victoria Vegher, Edwardsville, sr.
Emma Jordan, O’Fallon, fr.
Second Team (All Classes)
Mya Albers, Mater Dei; Lily Becker, Highland; Jaylyn Bower: Nashville; Brittnie Bartling: Nashville, Kailee Chau, Mascoutah; Alyssa Comer- Granite City;Bella Dixon, Mascoutah; Payton Flowers, Edwardsville, Andrea Frerker, Collinsville; Calyn Hartman, Red Bud, Sydney Hartung, Belleville East; Danna Jenkins, O’Fallon; Megan Korte, Belleville East; Zoey Lewis, Civic Memorial; Danielle London: Red Bud; Katie Mank, O’Fallon Katherine Marler: Freeburg; Jada Marshall, East St. Louis; Madeline McKittrick, O’Fallon; Maddie Mense: Freeburg; Lauren Meyer, Father McGivney; Maddie Miller, Edwardsville Brittney Nigh, Highland; Kaileigh Perrier, O’Fallon; Libby Price, Waterloo; Alyssa Postma, Triad Abby Riechmann, Okawville, Jessica Shepherd: Freeburg; Greta Stark: Mater Dei; Colleen Sliment, Waterloo; KInsey Stockmann, Mater Dei; Michaela Tarpley: Roxana; Alyana Toedte: New Athens; Riley Vickrey, Alton Marquette; Emily Wiegmann, Mater Dei
Honorable Mention (All Classes)
Kennison Adams, Edwardsville; Jenna Alfeldt, New Athens; Elizabeth Byington, Mascoutah; Katie Chase, Triad; Maddie Collins, O’Fallon; Ahmia Dorsey, East St. Louis; Shalyn Edwards, Roxana; Heather Elliott, Waterloo; Roxana; Elaine Fitzgerald, Triad; Alyssa Frakes, Belleville West; Kaleigh Grace, Jerseyville; Lexy Gilliam, Highland; Shonjahnea Griggs, East St. Louis; Amanda Kaltwasser, Althoff Catholic, Kailey Heusohn: Dupo; Melissa Kafer, Triad; Mandy Kraus, Waterloo; Page Lee, Freeburg, Jessie Markel, Alton; Lizzie Michael, Althoff Catholic, Chessy Nikonowicz, Granite City; Alyssa Postma, Triad; Mercedes Ramires, Dupo, Madison Schoenfeld: Lebanon; Reagan Schwable, Freeburg, Gabby Siekmann, Althoff Catholic,Hannah Stuart, Edwardsville; Brooke Supancic, Red Bud; Madelyn Tepe, Okawville, Kayla Tirey, Collinsville Jeriah Turner, East St. Louis; Mallory Unverfehrt, Okawville, Janelle Vollmer, O’Fallon; Emma Voumard, Alton; Mary Wagner, Red Bud, Danika White, New Athens