Mohawk’s Jaxon Schoedel is relatively new to competing in cross country, but the sophomore is already excelling at breakneck speeds.

Schoedel captured silver in the WPIAL Class 1A cross country championship with a time of 16:50 on Thursday at Roadman Park located on Pennsylvania Western University’s campus.

“It feels pretty good,” Schoedel said on placing second. “It’s an honor to place so well my first year. I wish I could’ve pulled ahead for first but that hill was killer.”

“I was thrilled,” Mohawk coach Dave Bredl said on Schoedel placing second. “He kept on asking me, ‘How do you think I’ll do?’ I said, ‘You’ll get in the top five, you’ll do good.’ I knew deep down he had an outside chance of winning it. He came in second and I was thrilled and I know he was thrilled, too.”

Schoedel also qualified to compete in the PIAA Class 1A cross country championship meet at Hershey Parkview thanks to his performance.

“WPIAL was the nervous one for me because that’s what gets you in,” Schoedel said. “States, you get to run with all these elite runners and you get to go and they love the same thing that you do. I’m more over excited than nervous.”

For his efforts, Schoedel was named the Lawrence County Athlete of the Week as voted on by the New Castle News sports staff.

“From a coaches point of view, he’s the ideal athlete,” Bredl said of Schoedel. “He works hard and works on his own. He’ll work on his own and I tell him he needs to back off and relax a little more. He’s an extremely hard worker and I think that it’s the key to his success. You can excel as a team or individual. It’s a matter of what you want to do.”

Schoedel got involved with Mohawk’s cross country program after competing alongside some seniors during track and field last season.

“With cross country, specifically, I was invited by a couple people who ran on cross country and on track. I started it because I wanted physical activity and I ran into some guys who were seniors last year, Kaleb Lloyd and Brandon Nonnemacher,” Schoedel said. “They recommended cross country to me once they started running long distance with me in track. I got my skill from running with them my whole track season. I ran to keep up with them.”

A son of Coty and Richard Schoedel, the sophomore has hopes of competing in cross country at the collegiate level.

“I’ve heard lots of good things from coaches and friends about the opportunities,” Schoedel said on racing in college. “I’m open to it and I want to do that.”

Schoedel said the WPIAL championship course was challenging.

“That’s the hardest course I’ve ever ran. I’ve trained on pretty big hills at home but that’s nothing compared to the WPIAL,” Schoedel said. “(The) weather was good that day but it really is that landscape. That first mile is flat. We were a little under five minutes, me and that first place guy. You get to that hill and spend what’s left of your energy to run that hill and you still have to run another mile.

“It’s pretty cool to see everyone in one place and compete against them. It definitely gets up your nerves — lining up at the starting line that’s wider than your school parking lot. It’s awesome to know I was in that pack and leading. It is cool to be in that front group.”

Schoedel started to excel at cross country and now holds Mohawk’s school and course records at 14:47.

“I started to like it because I was excelling. I showed up to practice, I was out ahead and was breaking records just by training on our practice course,” Schoedel said. “Just that sense of accomplishment was a drive to keep going and practice at home.”

With the PIAA championship on Saturday, Schoedel is working on easier practices, skill practices and nothing that could cause an injury before the race.

“At the state meet, the hills are up and down on an old golf course,” Bredl said. “We’ll be hitting the hills up and down this week.”

Schoedel praised Bredl’s coaching.

“He’s a fantastic coach. He’s a good guy and he cares about all the kids on the team,” Schoedel said. “He know what’s right and what’s wrong with the runners. He knows what’s best for all the players and care about all the players.”

Schoedel said that Mohawk’s cross country team has “great leadership.”

“Katelyn Stivers, she unfortunately didn’t make states this year but she was a great leader,” Schoedel said. “We didn’t have any male seniors. We had Nico Cascavilla, he’s a junior.”

Bredl believes that Schoedel is already a leader on the team.

“I use him as an example of what everybody should be,” Bredl said. “Everybody should take it upon themselves to work hard on their own and try to be the best they can be. I try to tell them, ‘When you come to me in June, I’m just putting the icing on the cake and it’s up to you to make that cake.’ He’s very focused. He’s got a bubbly personality and he’s always asking questions. Willing to learn, very willing to learn. Always studying his strategy and talking it over. He’s making the most of what he has.”

Schoedel isn’t sure what the future holds in the next two years as a cross country runner but he has one goal still in mind for this season.

“My goal at states, I hope to be the first boy to medal from Mohawk at states.” Schoedel said.

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