Jana Schmid reflects on cross country journey from Germany to United States

She recently qualified for nationals, along with Alyssa Campbell


Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

Jana Schmid is a student during the week, but weekends are much different. When Saturday comes around, she dons the green and gold cross country uniform, laces up her shoes and is prepared to run 5,000 meters. Although Schmid loves running with the team, American cross country is still new to her. However, her work ethic and production for the team have been better than a typical newcomer.

A few months ago, Schmid moved to the United States from Immenstadt, Germany. Despite moving from another country to the United States, her decision to go to Point Park was an easy decision.

“I planned for it because I wanted to study in the United States to improve my English, and I was searching with an organization to go to a university,” Schmid said. “I then found Point Park, and I really liked that it’s a university in the city.”

Schmid is studying international business management. She said she loves that Point Park gives her possibilities for internships and the activities that she could do outside of school, such as sporting events. The location for her is perfect and she enjoys the atmosphere of the city.

Schmid’s second reason for choosing Point Park was the opportunities for cross country and track and field.

“I also was talking to Coach Tim [Creamer] and I really liked him and he made me very welcome,” Schmid said. “I also was talking to Alyssa [Campbell] and it was pretty nice, so I decided to come here.”

Schmid made the decision and moved from Germany all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The transition for her went smoothly. Nevertheless, it was difficult for her at first due to English being her second language. Nonetheless, she is getting used to the language and her team is a contribution to that. Schmid spending time with the team on and off the cross country course has helped her with the language and has made her acclimated to America.

Schmid wanted to run at Point Park for cross country, and, in her freshman year, she is already a consistent top runner for the team. However, running long distance wasn’t always her main focus.

Before her last year in high school, she didn’t focus on long distance running such as cross country, and the 5k, which is the distance for women cross country meets. Schmid’s main focus in training was high jump, long jump, and other disciplines. However, when the COVID-19 lockdown occurred in Germany, Schmid began to run on her own.

“All the things were closed in Germany, because we had a very hard lockdown and that’s when I really started running on my own because it was the only possibility to keep you fit because everything else was closed,” said Schmid. “I ran by myself most of the time, but then I came here and here you have so many running partners. It’s so nice to run with the team, so I like it here more.”

Schmid began to run distance more and more but adjusting to American cross country was different for her. In Germany, she only practiced twice a week but with very high intensity. Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the team practices six times a week with less intensity. They also run longer distances during practices, which was something she had to grow accustomed to. Despite never running the 5k before, Schmid placed 9th out of all runners and second for the team behind senior Alyssa Campbell, helping the team finish in second place at the Bethany Invitational.

Schmid was successful in her first race, but a leg injury would sideline her for the Lock Haven Open and the Carnegie Mellon Invitational. Schmid and team captain Campbell believe that adjusting to running on pavement contributed to the injury. In Germany, Schmid ran on forest trails and grass, but in the city, she runs on pavement. The adjustment was a change for her, but Schmid adapted.

Schmid returned to action at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge in Grand Rapids, Michigan and cross-trained, which is when a runner bikes and runs due to her leg injury. Despite running with an injury, Schmid finished 18th out of all runners and second for the Pioneers, helping the team win first place. This was the team’s first time winning first place since the Midwest XC Challenge in 2020.

Schmid had an impressive return in their first place finish in Michigan. However, biking was tough for her because she didn’t get to run with her teammates during the race.

“It was always hard because you see all your teammates, they are running and you’re like, ‘Okay, I can run.’ And also they’re running together as a team, and [then] you are the person who goes separated for biking … but I look forward to running,” said Schmid. “That was the motivation to do biking …because I know it makes me better. It’s good for me to recover, and I know that I can compete with my teammates again when I’m back.”

For the freshman runner’s last meet this year, she finished sixth out of all runners at the River States Conference (RSC) Championship and second for the team. Nevertheless, the team fell short and came in second place, only missing first place by 3 points.

Despite not being able to go to Nationals as a team, Schmid and Campbell both qualified for Nationals in Vancouver, Washington. For Campbell, she finished first out of all runners at the RSC Championship, and this is her third time qualifying for Nationals. Campbell said she was extremely proud of the team and Schmid. Campbell also noted she was impressed with Schmid’s optimism and her passion for running even though she was injured.

“She’s very naturally optimistic, and that is just so unbelievable to me,” Campbell said. “She is so sweet and so nice, but she is one of the toughest runners. She’s like, ‘I’m just going to go do it.’ It’s very simple for her, and for her it’s like ‘I’m just gonna go run —why would it be any different than that?”

For Schmid and Campbell, they are both excited for Nationals. While Campbell has been at this stage before, she looks to become an All-American runner, which is when a runner is in the top 30.

Schmid is thrilled about the experience for Nationals and is ready for the learning experience. Schmid believes that Campbell can be an All-American runner, akin to when Cambell became an All-American runner as a sophomore in 2019.

“I believe that she really could make it and for me, I’m going there for the experience of being at the Nationals and I’ll try my best to just to do my best,” Schmid said. “I think I’m mainly going there for the experience and to see how Alyssa is doing and take it as an example for the next years to come.”

Regardless of how Schmid does at Nationals, this is just the beginning for her. Schmid is only a freshman and is prepared for her first full season of track and field in America. She said she is excited to be fully healthy and can’t wait to continue running for the team.

Her work ethic and passion to run is apparent to the team, and they all feed off her energy and optimism.

“I think that attitude she has helps her,” Campbell said. “With her being our number two girl already and in track, I have no doubt that even after I’m gone she is going to be a wonderful leader on the team and she’s only going to get better.”

Campbell compared Schmid to herself when she qualified for Nationals as a freshman, and she said she believes that Schmid can surpass the accomplishments she holds. She believes Schmid can be just as good, if not even better than she herself is, especially when she is fully healthy.

“She’s going to be doing this a lot, and this is going to be her first experience and she really wants to take it in,” Campbell said. “She just wants to go out there and do her best with her injury and then take time off after to really heal for track.”

Schmid was prepared to travel with Campbell to Nationals. She is appreciative to the team for welcoming her. For Schmid, she views them more than teammates. These are her friends. She traveled across the country, and the team has been there for her.

Schmid’s move to the United States was made easy because of her teammates and her teammates are proud of her for making it to Nationals.

Although the team didn’t qualify for the NAIA National Championship, they will all be rooting for Campbell and Schmid. Schmid remains optimistic and can’t wait for the next few years of cross country and track and field.

“For the next couple years, I think our cross country team really wants and can go next year to the nationals because we all want to go to Florida,” Schmid said. “That’s like our big goal for next year and I think if we practice a little bit more we can make it next year.”

Schmid continued about how she believes the team will do for the track and field season.

“I think we are in pretty good shape,” Schmid said. “We were so close [to making it to Nationals as a team], but it only shows us that if we put a little bit more effort in it, we are pretty well prepared for the track season.”

Schmid is grateful for the opportunity at Nationals. She not only gets to go to Vancouver and race, but she gets to travel with Campbell who has helped her throughout the year. However, the whole team helped each other out and made another amazing cross country season. Schmid is prepared for Nationals and can’t wait to run with Campbell.

“We all put our best effort in it, and we were so close, but didn’t make it. It was also nice, because now I can go with Alyssa to Nationals, and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.