Lane Schwarz was the No. 1 cross country runner and middle distance runner for years at Le Sueur-Henderson High School.
It’s a whole new level of competition for him as a sophomore member of the men’s cross country and track and field teams at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, but he’s holding his own.
He is the No. 10 cross country runner and runs the 800 meter, mile and 4x800 relay in college. He also said, “I am hoping to try steeplechase this year if we get to have an outdoor season.”
“The main difference in high school and college sports is the level of competition,” Schwarz said. “At college, you get the best athletes from every high school and everyone still wants to be the best so the level of competition is greatly raised. For myself, I have definitely gotten faster, but the main thing that I have learned are the weaknesses that I have and have been trying to address those so that I am able to reach my full potential.”
While he’s not the team’s top runner any more, Schwarz enjoys just getting a chance to continue participating in the sports he loves, and he joined fellow high school classmate Kylie Dunning, who is a sophomore women’s tennis player at Luther.
“Kylie and I are good friends, and we both had narrowed our choices down to two schools and what it came down to for both of us was that Luther was the best fit for both of us to be able to continue participating in the sports we love,” Schwarz said.
College also give him an opportunity to get faster and reach his full potential.
“One of the main reasons that I wanted to run in college was that I wanted to see what my true potential was and how fast I could get,” Schwarz said. “In order to do that my main goals are just to stay healthy all four years and slowly keep improving myself. I would also love to be All-Conference in both cross country and track as well before I graduate.”
Schwarz has run two cross country seasons with Luther (freshman ‘19, sophomore ‘20), and one indoor track season (freshman ‘20). His outdoor track season last spring (‘20) was cancelled due to COVID.
In cross country, he’s typically been a scoring junior varsity runner on the team. His best athletic strengths have been revealed in the mid-distances in track.
For indoor track last year, he twice won his heat (once in the mile, once at 800), and also led-off the 4x800 relay at the American Rivers Indoor Conference Championships.
“He was both a smart and spirited racer — it was a true delight to watch him!” said Steve Pasche, Luther College head men’s cross country and track and field coach.
Pasche especially appreciates Schwarz’s character.
“Lane has many great personal qualities that we treasure, but some that especially rise to the top are his accountability, strong work ethic, positive attitude and friendliness — all qualities that readily spread to others,” Pasche said. “Even in just his sophomore year, he is a respected leader on our team.”
Schwarz said his “individual highlight so far was being a part of our 4x800 team at the indoor conference meet that Luther hosted, last year. The team highlight was when the team finished second in the conference for cross country my freshman year. So far my best 8k time for cross country is 27:33 at our University of Wisconsin La Crosse meet my freshman year. My best mile time in track came at our Carleton indoor meet when I ran 4:38 for 8th place. For the 800 my best time came at the University of Dubuque indoor meet when I ran 2:02.36 for 17th place.”
Luther turned out to be the best fit for Schwarz athletically and academically. He is majoring in Allied Health Science with hopes to go to Physical Therapy school following Luther and become a physical therapist.
“I knew that I always wanted to run in college, so it was just deciding what school would be the best fit for me,” Schwarz said. “I ended up choosing Luther because it checked all of my boxes. The campus is located in the bluffs of Northeast Iowa with miles and miles of trails to run, the college has a very strong science department, and the cross country and track programs here are very competitive.”
Schwarz wouldn’t have gotten there without the help of his family and coaches. He credits his family and high school coaches for helping him reach a higher level.
“My family has always been my biggest supporters, and they are a big reason that I have been able to become the athlete and person that I am today,” Schwarz said. “I can’t count how many runs that my Dad, Mom, or sister have biked with me on providing some support. The three of them rarely missed any of my competitions and have been there through all the highs and lows.
“Two other people that I give a lot of the credit of getting me to where I am today were my high school cross country and track coach Jeff Christ and Dave Johnson. Coach Christ was the best coach I could have ever asked for and he has always been and will be more than just a coach to me. He is someone that I have always looked up to and gone to with anything running related or just life in general. Dave provided a lot of guidance for me alongside Coach Christ in my training and development as a runner. He is very knowledgeable in the sport of running and has offered up a lot of great advice for me.”
While Schwarz missed his last season in track because of the COVID-19 virus canceling the season, he is grateful to have a chance to run cross country this fall with the Norse.
“I have been very fortunate when it comes to COVID and still being allowed to participate,” Schwarz said. “I did miss out on outdoor track last year as everyone else did, but I was able to have a cross country season this year. It was a little shorter than normal, and we only had meets with teams inside our conference. But it was still a season and one that few people were lucky enough to have.”
He is also grateful to have the opportunity to continue playing sports in college.
“College athletics are a very special thing,” Schwarz said. “They provide you with some of the best friends and teammates and allow you to test yourself. So far for me college athletics have been challenging but also rewarding and above all else an opportunity to become a better person.”