Former Prairie High School athlete earns third place at national championships in heptathlon


Steven Schmidt, a sophomore at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, recently earned a third place bronze medal at nationals in the heptathlon.

The former Prairie High School athlete, who competes in indoor track and field events, entered the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in March ranked seventh in the heptathlon and eighth in the high jump.

“He becomes just the second NCAA Men’s Indoor All-American in NNU track and field history, tying Payton Lewis’ third-place finish in the pole vault in 2017,” stated Josh Burkholder, the assistant athletic director of NNU, in a news release. “Schmidt’s 5,523 points are a new personal best and improves his NNU record in the event by over 150 points. The new mark is also second all-time in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history, just 15 back of Alaska Anchorage’s Cody Thomas in 2016.”

Schmidt also joined Thomas and Central Washington’s Kodiak Landis as the only heptathletes to earn All-America status at an indoor national championships.

Schmidt was the only underclassman to finish among the top five at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships held in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The heptathlon took place on Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11. Four events took place on Friday where Schmidt finished the day at seventh place with 3,067 total points.

In the first event, the 60-meter sprint, Schmidt was under the weather, stated the release. Despite not feeling well, Schmidt completed the 60-meter race in 14th place.

The second event of the day was the long jump where he finished ninth.

During the next event, Schmidt placed eighth in shot put. In the final event of the first day, Schmidt crushed his personal record.

“The final heptathlon event of the day was Schmidt’s specialty, the high jump, and he performed magnificently by equaling his PR and NNU record with a clearance of 2.14 meters (7-0.25),” stated the release. “The closest competitor in the event cleared 2.05 meters, as Schmidt made up at least 84 points on everyone else. The 934 points he received in the high jump was the most for any athlete through the first four events in the heptathlon competition.”

Schmidt performed well during the first event on March 11 as he finished sixth in the 60-meter hurdles. The sixth place finish moved his overall placement from seventh to fifth. The second event of Saturday was the pole vault, set at multiple heights.

“Coming into the championships, his collegiate PR was 4.41 meters and he ended up obliterating it, clearing four greater heights to set a new PR at 4.75 meters (15-7) and fly up to a tie for fourth all-time at NNU in the vault,” stated the release. “If that wasn’t impressive enough, he cleared 4.45, 4.55, and 4.65 all on his first try before getting over 4.75 on his third and final attempt.”

The pole vault efforts allowed Schmidt to move into fourth place overall going into the last event of the heptathlon.

“In the seventh and final event, the 1000 (meter), Schmidt came out of the gates determined to at least hold his fourth-place standing,” stated the release.

He was in second through the three of five laps, and managed to hang on to place fifth in the event with a personal best of 2:50.31, six seconds ahead of the athlete above him to improve one position and place third in the nation.

“First of all, the glory goes to God,” Schmidt stated in the release. “A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined this indoor season going as well as it did. I want to thank my coaches and parents for pushing me to be the best I can be.”