Carolyn Shult wins Kwik Trip Athlete of the Week

Shult was recognized by coaches in the conference for her performance at the St. Olaf Invitational.
Shult leading a race. Photo submitted by Carolyn Shult
Shult leading a race. Photo submitted by Carolyn Shult

Carolyn Shult has been awarded the Kwik Trip Athlete of the Week for her stand-out performance at the St. Olaf invitational last week. Shult placed first overall, leading the women’s cross country team to a second-place finish.

Shult, a fifth-year biochemistry and molecular biology student, has been with the team since her freshman year and is now a team captain. 

Despite achieving great success as a runner, Shult said the jump from high school cross country to the college level was uncertain.

Carolyn Shult (Photo by Blugold Athletics)

“I wasn’t really sure I wanted to,” Shult said. “I don’t think I would’ve competed if I had gone to school anywhere else. I just really liked Coach Schwamberger and everything he had to say about the program.” 

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She said that the program resonated with her personal beliefs about training and methods of achieving success.  

Starting her freshman season, Shult said she was struggling with a fractured foot, but she was still able to be part of the team.

“It was good to have that experience, but obviously a bummer not being able to run,” Shult said.

That spring of her freshman year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down track and field for the year. Coming back that fall, Schult said there were many restrictions on the cross-country season. 

“It was honestly a tough time. You couldn’t be with the whole team, you had really small training groups we had to be in, and we didn’t get any races,” Shult said. “Only the people who were really committed to it stuck around during that time. It was a tough time. A lot of things you enjoyed about the team you didn’t get to have during that.” 

The team was able to compete again during the track season, but Shult said it was still a different experience. 

“It was really strange. We were wearing masks and competing, but still being separate from people and the team,” Shult said. 

The next fall though, cross country competitions were back and Shult was able to run. 

“I feel like things got back to normal my junior year,” Shult said. “That was my first time actually competing in cross country in college.” 

Junior year was a pivotal year for Shult. Not only was she able to compete in cross country as a Blugold, but she grew closer with the team as well.

“Having all those friendships helped me get through the tougher days because of that,” she said. “I started to see myself as an integral part of the team and a competitive runner within the team and how I could contribute to helping the team go to Nationals.” 

Last year was Shult’s senior year, and the Blugold team saw a lot of improvement. 

“I was getting excited about being more competitive as a team. Unfortunately, the season didn’t end the way I wanted it to,” said Schult. 

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and her injury freshman year, Shult still had some eligibility and decided to come back again this fall.

“So far, I’m glad that I did,” she said.

Dan Schwamberger, head cross country coach for both men’s and women’s teams, said he has seen Shult improve over the years.  

“Each year, she has progressed gradually, stayed healthy, and every year she’s gotten faster,” Schwamberger said. “ It’s a testament to her hard work.” 

Schwamberger spoke incredibly highly of Shult. 

“She’s a great competitor and she loves to race,” Schwamberger said.

 He said that a mentality like Shult’s is how successes like the St. Olaf race happen. 

“For a freshman on our team, follow Carolyn,” Schwamberger said. “ She knows what she’s doing and knows what works. Day in and day out, she’s doing a good job.” 

This season, Shult said has already achieved success, taking first place at the first meet of the season. That performance was what won her the Kwik Trip Athlete of the Week award. 

“It just makes me excited for the rest of the season,” Shult said. “Hopefully this gets the team excited too.”

Schwamberger agreed, saying that it’s an exciting honor for the team.

“It’s a nice recognition of a successful race,” Schwamberger said. “It’s a very competitive conference, so week in and week out, there’s a lot of other very deserving nominees so to get the award is pretty cool.” 

The next cross country meet is the Blugold Invite on  Sept. 29, which takes place on the Whitetail Golf Course.  This will be a bigger meet with 35 teams. 

Shult hopes it’ll prepare the Blugolds for bigger meets like nationals. Coach Schwamberger called it “a great spectator course”. 

Both Coach Schwamberger and Shult are feeling positive about the season going forward. 

“It’s a very good starting point. Overall, we competed really well as a team,” Schwamberger said.

“There’s a lot of potential on the team this year,” Shult said.

Shult said she hopes to continue performing as she did at the St. Olaf Invitational. 

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in the program, and I like helping the other people on our team,” Shult said. “Hopefully, I can be a positive leader.” 

Sherry can be reached at [email protected].


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