Jillian Schmelzer of Winthrop High School pulls out front in the 100-meter dash during the Mountain Valley Conference outdoor track and field championships at Lisbon High School in May. Schmelzer won the event with a time of 12.68 seconds. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

It took Winthrop’s Jillian Schmelzer a couple of outdoor seasons to finally realize the potential she knew she had. 

In 2019, things slowly started to click, so much so that she took home two golds at the Class C track and field state meet and has been named the Sun Journal All-Region Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. 

A hip flexor injury slowed Schmelzer down her freshman year. Her sophomore year was better, but still not to her standards she had created for herself. 

It wasn’t all just injuries,” Schmelzer said. “I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but I was running times last year that I knew could be better. It was like when you finish a race you can’t focus at first but after you knew you could’ve done better.”

She started to take her approach to sprinting more and more seriously and the results began to improve. 

“Last year, setting up the blocks I kind of just guessed where I should put the blocks,” Schmelzer said. “This year I found out my measurement what was comfy and what fit me. I watched videos on how to improve your starts and I did my homework. I felt like I was stronger and I felt like I was focused.

“This year I put on my big girl pants and went for it.”

At the beginning of the 2019 outdoor season, Schmelzer’s 400 time was around 1:06. She thought about giving up the lap-long sprint.

Jillian Schmelzer, center, of Winthrop, competes in the 200-meters at the New England track and field championships this year at Thornton Academy. Portland Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup

“I was just looking at my coach and I said, ‘I shouldn’t do the 400, this is stupid,’” Schmelzer said. “And he’s like, ‘No it’s OK, just shave off six seconds.’”

Part of the slow start was due to her month off between basketball and track. As the season progressed, so did she. 

At the Mountain Valley Conference championship, Schmelzer took home three wins, in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints. While titles were on the top of her wish list, there were some school records that she had her eye on, as well. 

At the Class C state meet, Schmelzer won the 100 and the 400 while finishing runner-up to Orono’s Camille Kohtala in the 200. During those races the Winthrop star tied the school record in the 100 and broke both the 200 and 400 records. 

“I wanted it really bad because I wanted to represent my school,” Schmelzer said. “The records were so old, so it was special to me that my name being up there would be a new thing and opportunity.”

Schmelzer will be running cross country in the fall for her senior year. Soccer is usually the move for Schmelzer, but she wants to switch it up for her last year in high school and she also has friends on the cross country team.

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