Peyton’s place: Crest runner thrives in fast lane

Crest High sophomore Peyton Schmidt — the Iola Register's athlete of the month — describes what got her interested in distance running, and her goals for the upcoming state track meet, and beyond.



May 22, 2024 - 2:11 PM

Cost High's Peyton Schmidt, the Iola Register's Athlete of the Month, will race in the 800- and 3200-meter runs at the state track meet in Wichita this week. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

After a grueling race, even the most competitive distance runners share a kinship with their rivals. 

After doing all they can to beat their foes, most runners will gladly offer a fist bump, a high-five or even a hug to acknowledge the effort it took to finish the race.

Peyton Schmidt is like that, too. 

Just give her some time — and space. 

See, she has her own recovery process.

“I’m a puker,” she laughed. “You’ve gotta stay away for a minute. Let me have my moment.”

The Crest High sophomore has had plenty of moments in her young athletic career.

She’s been a centerpiece on the Lady Lancer cross country teams that finished third as a squad at state her freshman year, and second in the state meet last fall as a sophomore.

This week, she’s a part of the Crest contingent headed to Wichita Friday and Saturday for the state track meet, where she’ll run in the 800- and 3200-meter runs, and perhaps a relay race or two.

Additionally, Schmidt was voted the Iola Register’s Female Athlete of the Month. She receives a free specialty pizza from Rookies for the honor.

Schmidt spoke about getting her start as a middle-schooler, and why she chose running instead of other sports.

Actually, that goes back to fifth grade, Schmidt recalled. “I went to one volleyball practice, and I didn’t like it at all,” she said. “I figured running would be easier.”

With few runners her age, Schmidt had no classmates to join her on training sessions. Staying motivated was the biggest challenge.

Because middle school cross country races have no sixth-grade division, it meant Schmidt had to run against seventh-graders. She took seventh against the older runners, drawing Coach Kaitlyn Cummings’ attention.

“She said, ‘I think you can be really good at this if you keep trying,’ so I did,” Schmidt said.

Even better, Schmidt soon gained two training partners, to help with the motivation side.

The first was classmate Aubrey Allen, who soon joined Schmidt on long-distance practice runs. The second came when fellow distance runner Josie Walter moved to town when they were in the seventh grade.

“The first time I ever met Josie was during a summer running session,” Schmidt recalled.

The bond was instant.

“Running comes a thousand times easier when you have someone to run with,” she said. “We’d run and talk the whole practice. We’d go on long runs and talk about anything and everything. And since we all do the same sports, we get to hang around each other.”

Like Allen and Walter, Schmidt is fond of the 3200-meter runs, where getting through the first seven laps is half the battle before the final circuit turns into an all-out sprint.

“Josie’s a great training partner because she’s so good at pacing,” Schmidt said. “I’ll run with her, and then the final lap is a sprint-off, to see who can finish first.”

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