Reaching new heights
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ASHBURN, Va. -- For three years, Andie Schindler of Stone Bridge High School has balanced running and jumping events at track and field meets. This year, Schindler is focusing solely on the high jump for her senior season, and she has become one of the elite high school high jumpers in Virginia.
In previous seasons, Schindler split her efforts between high jumping and long-distance running events such as the 400-meter open and the 4-by-400 and the 4-by-800 relays.
"Andie was a distance runner who had distance speed, and to be a good high jumper, you need sprinter speed," said coach Bob Mandes, who oversees the jumping aspects of the team.
At the beginning of this spring season, the coaches told Schindler they wanted her to just compete in the high jump her senior season. She agreed with her coaches.
"It was a fresh year, and I wanted to focus on one event," Schindler said.
The move paid off. She quickly began improving her form and technique, and the results were noticeable. At the beginning of the season, Schindler's personal best on the high jump was 4-foot-8. By the Liberty District tournament, she had established herself as one of the up-and-coming jumpers in the state and reached a personal best of 5-2, the height required to be eligible for the girls' state high jump competition.
Now Schindler has her sights set on the Virginia High School League state competition to be held on Friday and Saturday in Newport News.
Schindler's toughest competition is Tynita Butts of T.C. Williams High School (Alexandria), which is also in the Northern Region. Butts has a record of 5-10 and can consistently clear 5-6.
"I'm so excited for states, especially since it is my senior year. We always say at practice, 'Go hard or go home,'" Schindler said.
Other factors that have contributed to Schindler's surge into the spotlight have been her ability to correct her mistakes and her dedication.
"She's a very coachable athlete," Mandes said. "She knows what questions to ask and doesn't fight me."
And her dedication goes beyond team practices. She once sneaked onto the track to get in a workout.
"Nobody was unlocking the gates, so I hopped the fence and went onto the track to get some running in," Schindler said.
Schindler will attend Brigham Young University this fall. Her coaches believe she could walk on to the track program.
"Being a state jumper, I believe she can. She hasn't realized her full potential yet, so she can do that at the college level. [It is] because she didn't have an exemplary season her junior year that she is not getting scholarship offers," Mandes said.
Schindler, however, is still undecided about continuing her track and field career.
"I'm not sure I will try out because I really want to focus on the school aspect of college my freshman year," Schindler said. "If I don't try out, I will want to do intramural soccer at college at least so I can keep active."
Whatever path she chooses, Schindler's hard work this year has proved that she is one of the most gifted track athletes in Virginia and that she has the potential to take her talent to the next level.
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