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Bemidji HS track: Schoneberger excels by breaking out of his comfort zone

Bemidji's Alex Schoneberger, left, accepted the baton from John Buckanaga during Tuesday's 4x800 relay race at the track and field meet hosted by Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

A few weeks ago Alex Schoneberger and his Bemidji High School track and field teammates competed in the section True Team meet at NDSU in Fargo. It was a miserable day. The athletes were pounded by rain, cold, wind and mud.

To top it off, Schoneberger was sick and estimated his strength at about 85 percent.

"The True Team meet uncovered the athletes who wanted to excel and who had the mental toughness to succeed," said BHS boys coach Steve Sneide. "We had athletes who complained about the conditions and had an excuse for why they didn't do well. Alex ran in three races and set personal records in all of them."

Schoneberger's specialty is the middle distances, and traditionally he will compete in the 800 and with his 4x800 and 4x400 relay partners.

"Guts is a key to competing in the middle distances," said Schoneberger, who ran the 800 in 1:58.1 at the True Team. "You need to be able to get out of your comfort zone and go after it."

Sneide said Schoneberger could be successful at any distance because he has the mental discipline to give his best at all times.

"Alex is a tough kid," Sneide said. "He'll give you 110 percent every time. When it comes to giving you 'all or nothing', you know you'll get the 'all' with Alex.

"Tenacity is one of his greatest strengths," the coach continued. "He has the rare qualities that enable him to lead by example. What it comes down to is that Alex is going to work harder than anybody else."

Schoneberger isn't satisfied with performing well. His goal is to perform at his peak level every meet.

"Alex sets high goals and he works hard to achieve them," said BHS assistant track coach Ryan Aylesworth. "I've seen runners who have more talent than Alex but he has passed them by because he wants to succeed more than they do."

Schoneberger enters each season with a goal and works all spring with that goal in mind.

"My main goal is to drop seven seconds off my 800 time each year," he said. "So far this year I have dropped four seconds so I still have three seconds to go. I want to do that at the section or the state meet."

Schoneberger's ultimate goal is to qualify for the state and Sneide believes that could happen.

"I'd be shocked if Alex doesn't make state," Sneide said. "Right now he has the fastest 800 time in the section and getting to state is his ultimate goal.

"Last year Alex didn't make state but now he has matured and gotten much stronger."

"I need to keep running as I've been running and continue to improve," Schoneberger said. "I need to keep working if I want to qualify for state."

Judging by Schoneberger's resume, a lack of effort will not be a consideration.

The Lumberjack boys and girls will return to the track on Wednesday when they compete in the Section 8-2A meet at Sauk Rapids starting at 3 p.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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