By Gary R. Rasberry
MARIA STEIN -- Abby Schulte has already shown she is one of the best sprinters in the state with three straight trips to state.
Now, with a chance for four trips to state in her four-year high school career, the Marion Local senior has made up her mind about college, choosing to continue her education at Ohio Northern University as well as running on the track and field team.
The choice was helped by the fact that her older brother Jason is a member of the Polar Bear football team, which meant that Schulte has had several visits to the Ada campus.
"I saw the school and really liked it," said Schulte. "It's a nice little campus and a nice little town. I went to look at IPFW (Indiana-Purdue in Fort Wayne) and they didn't have the record of what ONU had, and (IPFW) is a Division I school (ONU is Division III). I wanted to go somewhere where I can run for fun and not make it a job. I also went up for a visit. The coach had a lot of nice things to say about my running."
Her future plans also played a part as Schulte wants to be a nurse and Ohio Northern has a strong nursing degree program. "I love the medical field," said Schulte.
The Polar Bear program has had a lot of success on the national level over the years. Former MAC athletes like Jackie Kaup of Fort Recovery and Steve Vagedes of Coldwater earned All-America honors for the track team.
"They have a lot of people go to nationals," said Schulte. "That's another reason I wanted to go there."
Schulte has been dominant in the sprints for the Flyers, winning the 100- and 200-meter dash MAC titles last season and adding a third-straight state qualifying effort in the 100. Schulte finished seventh last year in the 100 after placing fifth as a sophomore and not making the finals as a freshman.
With the college decision safely made, Schulte can now focus on making a run to state once again.
"It makes my senior year a fun one," said Schulte. "(Now) I don't have to worry about where I'm going to go or what I'm going to do.
"There's no added pressure. I don't have to run for anyone else (a college recruiter). I can run for myself. You only have to worry about doing your best. (Now that) everything is out of the way, all you have to do is work hard."