Schlegel’s bright running career stalls, but she’s looking ahead

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

For most athletes, the senior season is their best, especially if they work as hard at their sport as Chelsea Schlegel always has. However,this Zimmerman senior, a standout distance runner in 9-10-11, has spent her final year either cheering for teammates or running way back in the pack.

“There’s been one thing after another, and it’s been pretty frustrating,” said Schlegel, who keeps her chin up and hopes to get her old form back to run for Southwest State in the fall.

Chelsea Schlegel in 2011, when she ran in her third state cross country  meet. (Photo by Bill Jones)
Chelsea Schlegel in 2011, when she ran in her third state cross country meet. (Photo by Bill Jones)

With girl athletes, sometimes the willowy, runner-friendly physique of early years transforms into something else no matter how many miles you put in. Schlegel also had a spate of ailments,  stress fractures, low bone density, shin splints, brought on in part by over-training.

Schlegel was a softball player until eighth grade but she found that when her dad (and coach) made them run laps for this or that infraction, she enjoyed the laps more than the softball.

She joined the Elk cross country team in ninth grade and helped them win the state championship, running third on the team and 48th overall at state, after placing 25th in conference and 17th in the section.

As a sophomore she was 26th at state, and second on the team, as the Elks placed fourth. She was 10th in conference and third in the section. When ZHS started a team her junior year, she moved with her mom to an Elk River residence to stay with the Elks. She had another good year, 11th in conference, eighth in section and 42nd at state as an individual qualifier.

That spring, though, she struggled in track. This continued in her senior CC season with the Elks when a squadron of younger runners surpassed her. After posting 4,000 times as fast as 15:08 and 15:10 previously she had a 17:52  in September and dropped out of the lineup. Schlegel was cheering on the sidelines as the Elks won conference and returned to state after a year absence.

Now back at ZHS, Schlegel has run 800 and 3200 occasionally for the Thunder, finishing near the back.  But she can’t imagine a life without running.

“Running in college is my main focus right now,” said Schlegel, who wants to be a dietician. “I will always run, no matter what. Running means a whole lot to me. That’s my stress reliever. That’s what clears my mind.”