The Indiana community was not expecting Schwartz's 2016 cross country. Even the state champion herself didn't see it coming. Just before the season started Tyler Schwartz and her coach sat down to talk about his goals for her season. She just wanted to place top 5 at state and go undefeated during the regular season. To her coach, Wade Buchs, that wasn't enough. He told her that merely placing was not enough; Schwartz needed to be state champion.
When Schwartz heard this, she didn't know what to think. She was nervous about trying to match 2015's winner Sarah Leinheiser's time of 17:30 at the state meet. Buchs told her to let go of her fears and just trust him and the process. And that's exactly what she did.
Throughout the regular season Tyler had high hopes of maintaining her goal of going undefeated. Unfortunately, however, in just her 2nd meet she found that this would not be the case. Lack of ability was not Schwartz's problem; she was going through a devastating personal trial. Two of her close friends had just recently passed away from a car accident. Tyler was not mentally ready to be racing. "I decided to run every race I had that season for those boys and give it all I had." Schwartz definitely lived up to that promise, winning everything in a clean sweep for the rest of the season. She even shocked herself at Nike Cross Midwest, placing 5th. She only went for the "experience", but ended up setting a new PR of 17:29 and advancing to the National meet.
Last season as well, Tyler earned more than just a state title. She earned a national honor from Gatorade, being named the Indiana Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Player of The Year. This title is not easily won; each year Gatorade picks only two athletes, one male and one female, per sport based on athletic excellence, classroom achievements and strong character. Tyler now joins the ranks of Sarah Leinheiser, Anna Roher(x2), Kelcy Welch, Ashley Erba, Waverly Neer(x2), Sarah Higgens and Alex Banfich who have all earned the honor as well. Schwartz was surprised that she was the one chosen.
Her track season was where she fell short. She came in 2nd at the Flashes Showcase, right behind Sophia Rigg. Then came the state meet about a month and a half later, Schwartz was slated to race the 3200. She started the race, but was unable to finish it. On that day she had a fever of 103 and streep throat, defintely less than ideal health to be racing in 80 degree weather. She dropped out after the 5th lap.
Her #1 mentality isn't just something that has been with Schwartz for a year or so. It's been with her since just before her 8th grade year. During 7th grade, she was barely varsity for cross country and was #2 for the distance group in track. For the average kid that would have been great, but Tyler isn't average. She knew she could do better and wasn't going to settle. That summer she ran everyday, coaching herself for the next year when she became #1 for both of her school's cross country team and track team. She credits her time in the summers to where she is today.
Schwartz again demonstrated her 'never stop' mentality this summer when she pushed herself one step further by competing at New Balance Nationals, where she raced in the 5K. She placed 11th overall with a time of 17:52.37. Schwartz's late start into summer training hasn't stopped the defending champ from setting her goals even higher this year. She has plans to go back this year to Oregon for Nike, and try for Footlocker as well. Tyler has hopes of earning All-American honors also. For the 2017-2018 season, she truly wants to go undefeated, but she knows it won't be easy.
"I'm sure I have a big red and white target on my back now."
Hopefully Schwartz can keep the competition from reaching that target as she starts her final season for Dekalb.
"There are many talented girls that run in Indiana and work just as hard both off the course and in school." She said of her fellow runners.
Now Schwartz said she wants to run next year, in college, but as of right now is unsure of where she would like to go. She is open right now as the recruiting process begins to heat up.
"I'd like to give a big thank you to my coach Wade Buchs for turning me into the runner I am today and for believing in me. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without him. I'd like to thank my family for traveling miles upon miles to watch me run only 18 minutes as fast as I could in any type of condition. I definitely wouldn't be where I am without my parents love and support."