Fast comes easy to Jack Schneider.
Sure, he has intense preparation to thank for his first place wins in the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the State Games of America on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska. Just not preparation for track.
Schneider has spent his summer doing conditioning for football. The 20 pounds he said he’s added since last season haven’t slowed him down a bit.
“I was hoping to get first, second, or third,” he said. “The guy who got second beat me last year, so I was kind of surprised.”
Schneider said in both races, he got off to slow starts before overtaking the runners in front of him.
Schneider, who will be a sophomore at Marion High School, considers himself a football player first, but hopes his sprinting acumen can help him get a scholarship for college.
He knows he has to stay healthy for that, though. After a shoulder fracture last October sidelined him for football season, Schneider injured his knee during basketball season. At the very least, he’s proving he can bounce back.
While a new track surface was being put down at Warrior Stadium, Schneider and the track team ran on the gravel at Marion Cemetery.
“We didn’t really have a track to practice on most of last year,” he said.
He spent much of the track season coming back from that injury before finishing strong at a regional meet with ninth-place finishes in both sprinting events.
He was more than strong Saturday, setting a personal record in the 200 with a time of 23.43 seconds. He ran 11.54 in the 100.
Schneider said there were eight runners in his age division in the 100, and nine in the 200.
To qualify for the State Games, one had to place in the top three of a qualifying event, which for Schneider was the Sunflower State Games last year. He placed second in both the 100 and 200. He also placed first in long jump, but has not competed in that event since his knee injury.
Of his competitors, many were regional, but others were from states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Texas.
“It’s pretty good competition there,” Schneider said. “I kinda liked getting to know all the other athletes that were there. I got to know most of the guys in my division.”
The atmosphere was memorable, too, with between 40,000 and 50,000 people in Lincoln just for the five-day event, which featured more than 60 sports. Something Schneider remembers distinctly, however, is the public address announcer.
“He was calling everybody’s name out before the race, saying what state and city they were from,” Schneider said. “He had a play-by-play. He was calling the race as it was going. It felt really good to run for Marion — and Kansas.”