KRUM — By the time the end of March rolled around, Krum senior Julia Schmaltz knew the mark needed to transcend her current college plans, and she was an inch short of that mark.
Schmaltz, a high jumper, needed to clear the height of 5 feet, 6 inches to have a shot at landing at a big-time Division I track program.
After clearing the mark later in the season, Schmaltz cleared her college options last Friday. Schmaltz signed a national letter of intent to jump for Oklahoma State, accepting a partial scholarship to join the track program in Stillwater, Okla.
The partial track scholarship will be combined with Schmaltz’s academic scholarships to the university. Schmaltz will walk across Krum’s graduation stage Saturday as class valedictorian.
Schmaltz’s plans have changed significantly since the start of the track and field season.
“I didn’t actually think it would happen,” Schmaltz said. “I was very fortunate.”
The Krum senior chose Oklahoma State over Iowa State — two programs in the process of building new facilities. Schmaltz said she chose the school in Stillwater over the school in Ames, Iowa, because of its campus, its coaching staff and its proximity to Krum.
When Schmaltz competed in the Texas Relays at the end of March, she and Krum high jump coach Eric Shon concluded that it would take a mark of 5-6 for Schmaltz to earn a scholarship with a large Division I school.
So they picked up the intensity during practice.
“We kind of picked up our workouts,” Shon said. “We did more than just jumping. We did more [plyometrics] and weight training, and by the time district came around, we hadn’t jumped 5-6 yet in practice.”
She eclipsed that mark at the District 9-3A meet at Sanger. She hit the same mark at the area meet and later at the Class 3A Region II meet at Texas A&M-Commerce. The high jumper finished third in the meet and narrowly missed a spot in the state meet, where she finished third in Class 2A last year.
The consistent marks were a sign that Schmaltz’s jumps were no flukes, jumps that allowed her to make the leap from small colleges to where she wanted to be.
“I think I’ve known for a while, even if I didn’t go to compete, I wanted to go to a big college,” Schmaltz said.
Shon said he was equally as excited as Schmaltz when she finally cleared the bar and opened more college opportunities, in addition to the ones she already had because of her other activities.
“The first time you tell her something, she gets it,” Shon said. “She’s been high jumping long enough where she can feel it in her jump. She knows what she’s doing wrong. She can coach herself at this point. She’s just the kid that every coach wants to coach.”
Her other coach, head girls track coach and girls basketball coach Lana Degelia, was equally as proud of Schmaltz for her accomplishment. On the basketball court, Schmaltz averaged 13.8 points per game, earned District 9-3A co-MVP honors and helped Krum to its second girls state tournament.
Outside of high jumping, Schmaltz plans to pursue a biochemistry degree before heading off to medical school. But before that time comes, Degelia says her former forward and one of Krum’s top dual-sport athletes has plenty left to achieve.
“I don’t think she’s peaked yet,” Degelia said. “I think she’s got a lot left in her, and I think she’s just going to get better as she goes along. When she’s focused on one sport, one event, I think she’s just going to really excel there.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.