As winter nears its end, so does the collegiate career of track and field star Frances Schmiede ’17. Owner of the Elis’ and the Ivy League’s fastest 1000-meter time, the program’s speediest mile and both All-Ivy and All-American honors, Schmiede will graduate Yale as one of its most decorated female runners.
“Being able to graduate with those records on the wall means a lot,” Schmiede said.“I’d like to be part of Yale’s legacy.”
In addition to captaining the fall 2016 cross country team, the political science major finished 119th at cross country Nationals in November before running a 4:34.54 mile at the Valentine Invitational on Feb. 10, breaking her own personal record and recording the fourth-fastest time in the nation this season.
According to Schmiede, running was always her focus, even as competing academic and extracurricular interests emerged. Originally from Pymble, Australia, the runner’s high school career included a victory in the U20 800-meter Australian Junior Athletic Championship with a time of 2:09.03.
“[Schmiede] is amazing. Her work ethic and dedication to the sport is unmatched, and it shows in her unprecedented success,” teammate Lauren Chapey ’20 said. “[She] is a great role model for making running a lifestyle. She’s always encouraging us to do what’s best for our bodies and our running careers.”
The track star’s gradual success comes as no surprise to her or her coaches. Head coach Amy Gosztyla and Schmiede developed a long-term plan from the moment she arrived at Yale. In an effort to avoid the recurring injuries from which many late-career track athletes suffer, Schmiede took a more cautious approach to her first and second years.
“The way [Gosztyla] developed me as a runner included very conservative freshman and sophomore years that, nonetheless, carry great amounts of support,” said the senior track athlete.
This support was evident from the outset of the 2016–17 three-season cycle. In the fall, Schmiede was one of three Bulldogs on the cross country team to qualify for Nationals and had the best Yale finish with a time of 20:55.0 in a pool of 250 runners. Her last cross country season for the Elis also brought Schmiede her third All-Region Honors across the two seasons. And while participating in cross country Nationals meant a lot to her, Schmiede said that track and field — specifically the outdoor season — has been her main focus this year.
This special emphasis on track proved to be effective. Schmiede has already broken two previous personal bests, run Yale’s all-time fastest mile, as well as the 10th-best national time in the event all year and set the Ivy League 1000-meter record in indoor track.
“I came into this three-season-cycle — cross country, indoor, outdoor — really wanting to focus on outdoors because last year I made it to Regionals but not Nationals,” said Schmiede. “Even though we kept things low intensity during indoors, I got some pretty good results, and I’m looking forward to producing during outdoors and making it to Eugene, [Oregon].”
If Schmiede’s indoor performance so far is any indicator of her success during the spring, the illustrious runner will be a powerful force for the women’s team in what will be her last season as a Yale athlete. Though the senior has one year left in her NCAA eligibility because she did not compete in her freshman cross country season, she does not plan on pursuing another year as a collegiate athlete.
Yet Schmiede is leaving the team in good hands.
“[Schmiede] has been a strong leader for the whole team this year,” Rachel Suss ’20 said. “She has done a great job of showing me and the other freshmen what it means and how to adjust to running at the college level.”
Schmiede recognizes that strong freshman runners like Gemma Shepherd ’20 may one day eclipse her records, which speaks to the potential of Yale’s underclassmen.
While as of now Schmiede does not plan on running with Yale after graduation, this spring will not mark the end of her career.
“Running is different from other sports in that it’s not essential to join a team after college, so I would like to continue doing it in whatever capacity I can,” she said. “No one can take running away from you.”
Looking back on her Yale career, Schmiede said she has many fond memories. Her arrival at Yale coincided with her arrival to the U.S. and marked a transition period for Schmiede during her freshman year.
However, she mentioned the support of having smart, creative teammates as being a high point for her time at the University. In addition, being introduced to a new country has provided Schmiede with limitless fascination at novel sights and adventures.
“Even now, when I see the George Washington Bridge, I get incredibly excited — like it’s New York!” Schmiede said. “When we went to Indiana last weekend, everyone in the van was on their phones, but I was just staring out looking at the cornfields.”
Schmiede will race next at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Feb. 25 and 26.