Q and A with GVSU Commit Maria Mitchell

Watch Maria Mitchell run a 5K PB at the Riverview Health Invite

Maria Mitchell is a four sport athlete at Hamilton Heights High School in Arcadia, Indiana. She is in her final season as an high school athlete and will begin her collegiate career at GVSU this fall. Maria owns PB's of 5:00 (1600), 11:06 (3200) and 17:50 for 5K.

MileSplit Indiana caught up with Mitchell to discuss her training, hobbies, why she chose GVSU and much more! Many thanks to Maria for taking the time to chat with us!

MileSplit Indiana: Let's start from the beginning Maria. What exactly got you into running? 

Maria Mitchell: When I was in 6th grade, my best friend at the time begged me to go just to the first cross country practice with her so she wasn't alone. I was extremely against the idea of being a runner because I thought I was bound to play professional soccer one day (lol). Then I told my mom about my friend asking and she told me "this will be the one sport I will let you quit if you try it". So I was like alright I'll go to the first practice and ended up on the track team as well and sticking with it for quite a while. 

MileSplit Indiana: You've had a phenomenal high school campaign. At what point did you realize you could compete at the level you do today?

Maria Mitchell: Honestly, I have always struggled with this aspect and doubted my running abilities but when I medaled twice at the state track meet my sophomore year I realized I can run with most anyone in the state. 

MileSplit Indiana: The outdoor track season has begun, so tell us a little bit about your training thus far and what the plans are for the season.

Maria Mitchell: Winter training can be a little lonely, I run with my siblings as much as I can. I was really looking forward to the season and running in bigger meets including miracle mile and the 3200 showcase but due to circumstances beyond my control I was quarantined. While it was upsetting to lose those racing opportunities I use this as motivation as I complete my solo workouts for preparation to race again. My plans are to make the state track meet in two events. 

MileSplit Indiana: What has been your favorite high school race so far? What made it so special?

Maria Mitchell: My favorite high school race was cross country semi-state my junior year at Shelbyville. The race was memorable to me because of the weather. To quote Forest Gump "Little bitty stingin rain, big ol fat rain, rain that flew in sideways and sometimes it seemed to even come from underneath." 

MileSplit Indiana: You've been very consistent over your high school campaign. What are some things you do to stay in shape and healthy?

Maria Mitchell: I am a 4 sport athlete and have been since my freshman year. During the fall I double with soccer and cross country. Winter consists of swimming and spring is track. I also run year round in order to prevent injury. 

MileSplit Indiana: Tell us a little bit about the Hamilton Heights track program! What is the team bond like over there? Do you guys have any traditions?

Maria Mitchell: Heights is a pretty small school so our team is quite close. At the end of each year our team awards are traffic cones that get passed down from upperclassman to underclassman. All of the previous recipients are written on the cone.

MileSplit Indiana: For those that don't know, you recently committed to Grand Valley State University. What was the recruiting process like for you and what made you go with GVSU?

Maria Mitchell: Because my sister went to Huntington I was interested in the school. After some circumstances changed, I opened my recruiting to other schools as well and ultimately my top four choices were Grand Valley, Alabama, Purdue and USI. Shoutout to coach Madison Roeder (good friend of my brothers) for giving me advice in the recruiting process and how to navigate it. One of the main reasons I chose GVSU was the opportunity to run for a national championship in my college career. The facilities are also phenomenal. Its proximity to my family is close enough so they can attend meets. 

MileSplit Indiana: Let's take a little bit of time to learn more about you! If you could only eat one fast food restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Maria Mitchell: Chipotle

MileSplit Indiana: What are some hobbies you have outside of running?

Maria Mitchell: Fishing, frog gigging, baking, listening to my brothers podcast (presiquential), supporting my friends in sporting events and anything else they participate in. 

MileSplit Indiana: Who is your running role model?

Maria Mitchell: My running role models are my sister Molly Mitchell and brother Blaine Zimmerman. My sister has pushed me to become a better runner through the advice she has to offer and the way she quickly succeeded after picking up the sport so late in her career. I'm not sure how to express just how much my brother's advice and mentorship means to me. He has helped me develop mental toughness and confidence in my abilities. 

MileSplit Indiana: Any final comments, shout-outs?

Maria Mitchell: My entire school community has been very supportive. From teachers and bus drivers to administrators  and coaches, I have felt encouraged by each one. All of my running coaches Bill Trachtman, Bill Bowen, Mike Hippensteel and Todd Jones have played an important role in my success. My soccer coach, Travis Kauffman, and his wife, Jenn, along with our head football coach Jon Kirschner, and athletic director Kurt Ogden have passionately supported me all four years.