If you’re a long-time From the Backstretch reader, you know we love writing about fast people.
You also know our favorite stories are fast people who weren’t always fast.
Track and field is a sport where people improve at different rates and at different times. So many high school studs for whatever reason never run faster in college, but at the same time we love sharing stories about runners who didn’t have a lot of success in high school who take off in college.
Which brings is to Gavin Schmeck.
What a story!
And we thank Dave Stewart for the heads up about Gavin’s remarkable freshman year at Vermont.
First, some background. Schmeck’s PRs at Haddonfield were a pedestrian 2:11, 4:51 and 10:40. He ran a decent 16:22 in cross country on the Delsea speedway and was Haddonfield’s third runner at states in 2015, placing 15th overall with a 16:55 at Holmdel when the Bulldogs placed second to Voorhees in the state Group 2 meet.
Good solid runner at a terrific program. But no sign of what was to come next.
Schmeck walked on at the University of Vermont in Burlington this past fall, and as a freshman, he earned a spot on the Catamounts’ varsity XC team. And at the America East Championships, Schmeck was Vermont’s fifth runner, placing 32nd in 25:49 over 8K at Jerusalem Mill Park in Kingsville, Md.
Tremendous improvement. But he was just getting started.
This winter, he lowered his PRs to 4:22.27 for a full mile at the America East championships in Boston, 8:37.24 for 3,000 meters at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational (where he finished ahead of former Haddonfield teammate Greg Pelose), also in Boston and 15:07.41 for 5,000 meters at the America East meet.
A 4:22 mile from someone whose high school PR was 4:51 for 1,600 meters? Schmeck’s 800 PR in high school was 2:11, so he basically carried that pace over a race twice as long this past indoor season.
And this past weekend, in the first track 10,000 of his life, Schmeck ran 31:25:52 to win a tri-meet meet in Worcester, Mass., and qualify for IC4A’s.
What made this performance remarkable is that there were only two other runners and Schmeck was basically in no-man’s-land the whole race, with nobody finishing within 45 seconds of him.
That’s 25 laps solo at 15:42.6 5K pace.
Now consider that Schmeck’s high school 5,000 PR was 16:22 and you see how radical his improvement has been.
Last year, he ran 5:17 pace for his best 5,000 meters.
This past weekend, he ran 5:04 pace for 10,000 meters!
Twice as far 13 seconds per-mile faster!
Schmeck’s 31:25.52 is the No. 1 time in the America East Conference this spring.
Already an incredible story. And Schmeck is just getting started! It’ll sure be fun following his progress over the next few years!