Full steam ahead
Whatever he needs to do, Jordan Schultz will do to ensure his place on the Idaho State University track and field team.
The 2015 Churchill County High School grad will join teammate Nathan Heck in Pocatello this fall as newly minted Division I athletes.
For Schultz, though, his path is a bit tougher as he claimed a walk-on spot with the Bengals. The tough-minded teen, however, is hard at work preparing for the winter indoor season that begins in December.
Although the season is nearly six months away, Schultz is vigorously going through ISU’s summer workout program. His goal, he said, is to be in top shape once he hits campus for fall workouts and to show the coaching staff he has what it takes to make it at the DI level.
“I had no intentions of playing a sport in college,” Schultz recalled going into high school as a freshman. “Then things happened, I started running track my sophomore year … and I really enjoyed it and worked hard.”
Like many athletes at CCHS, Schultz participated in three sports. He played football and wrestled for four years, but played baseball his freshman year.
His journey to the track, though, was the result of being cut from the baseball team his sophomore year. Not wanting to sit around, Schultz opted for the track as a tool to build his speed on the football field.
The decision resulted in leading Schultz down a path he could not yet see. It became a bumpy road when he broke his ankle midway through the track season.
The sport started to grow on Schultz, however, and he became committed to the program for the next two years.
“It was the best thing for football,” he said. “That’s why I stuck with it, but then something just grew on me and I liked it more and more. I just like the feeling of running and beating somebody.”
Looking back, Schultz basically ran track for two years since his injury occurred just weeks into his first season.
To climb the ladder as fast as he did is a tribute to his athletic ability, Fallon boys track coach Steve Heck said.
“He’s a good, strong all-around athlete that can do a lot of things,” the coach said. “When he first came in, he was very rough. He didn’t have a lot of great running mechanics, but he just bought into the program. He always had a positive attitude.”
The longtime Greenwave coach said it takes about three years for an athlete to develop in the pole vault. Plus, the hurdles is another event where bad form is worse than being a step slower than the competition.
Hitting a hurdle, obviously slows down the runner, but can lead to a series of blunders throughout the race. But Schultz, showed an ability to overcome any mistakes to keep plowing through and in stride with the competition.
But his overall talent, Heck said, allowed Schultz to be a catalyst for the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams, with the latter breaking the school record in May at the state meet.
“With pole vault, it’s such a technical event and he was able to do quite well,” Heck added. “He’s got a good work ethic and obviously an athletic talent. In two years he went from having very few skills, to being a very hard, solid, tough runner.”
The next level
Schultz never figured his athletic career, like most, would end after his senior year in high school. A fire burned to see what he could do if given the chance.
A native of Montana, Schultz opened the lines of communication with Carroll College, University of Montana and the University of Great Falls. Coming along late, though, was an opening to get his foot in the door at ISU.
Schultz jumped at the chance, and after speaking with the coaching staff, opted to compete for the Bengals.
His journey, though, started after his junior season when he realized his potential and desire to compete in college.
“I thought it could help to pay for some of my college,” Schutlz said.
His first step in selecting a school for track, though, was to make sure they had the academic program Schultz wants. He plans to major in biology and eventually earn a master’s degree.
His career plans vary from possibly becoming a physician’s assistant or into the wildlife field.
“That’s the most important thing for me,” he said of academics. “I liked their (ISU’s) facilities and their academic programs more than the other schools.”
Whatever it takes
In high school, Schultz competed in the hurdles, pole vault and two relays. At the next level, however, Schultz said he is open to whatever coach Dave Nielsen needs him to do.
Schultz’s open mind, not to mention versatility on the track, is one advantage of begin a walk-on.
“Now I can just go in and prove myself and earn the money,” Schultz said. “They don’t know much about me compared to a scholarship athlete.”
Schultz mostly competed in the 300-meter hurdles, pole vault and 4×100 and 4×400 relays. The first three events, however, is where he competed and even helped the relay teams qualify for the state meet in May.
His goal during the summer is to get faster. Schultz has been hitting the gym and using ISU’s workout regiment as a guide to increasing his speed and strength.
“I want to work on my vault as well,” he added.
Speaking with Nielsen, Schultz said their conversations centered on fitness and coming to school ready to work — on and off the track.
Schultz’s work ethic, though, has already survived one test with the broken ankle during his sophomore campaign. Sidelined for the rest of the track season, he focused on getting healthy for summer football workouts and the fall season.
His junior year consisted of playing receiver and defensive back on the gridiron and transitioned to the wrestling mat in the winter.
On the track, meanwhile, he hit 12 feet in the pole vault, ran a 43.87 second 300 hurdle time.
Fast forward to 2015 and Schultz cleared 12-6 in the pole vault, although he said wants to put more time into his vault as he preps for college. He also ran a career-best 42.94 in the 300 hurdles.
“I’m pretty open to what I will do,” Schultz said of his college options. “I’ll do whatever he (Nielsen) wants me to do.”