JIM PETERS: Hebron's Schatz seeing light on long road back

2011-10-30T22:00:00Z JIM PETERS: Hebron's Schatz seeing light on long road backBy Jim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 30, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

As a seventh grader, Lexi Schatz was one of the top small-school runners in Indiana, finishing seventh in her division at the middle school cross country meet in Carmel.

Three years later, the Hebron sophomore was back at a state finals venue, this time at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, as a spectator and fan.

Sporting a green hoodie for Porter County Conference rival Morgan Township, Schatz was on hand Saturday to cheer on her boyfriend, Cherokees junior Alec Kostelnik, who placed 10th.

"It's inspiring," Schatz said. "I see how good he does, I want to be like him. It was a good experience, hopefully for next year."

As with many distance runners, Schatz's story is one of dealing with injuries. After her success in seventh grade -- when she broke all the Hebron records and destroyed the field in her grade at the Rensselaer Invitational -- she developed knee problems that forced her to undergo double lateral release surgery. The arthroscopic procedure is done to loosen tight tissue around the knee cap.

"She's definitely a tough girl," Kostelnik said after the race. "If I had knee surgery, I don't think I would've been able to come back."

The operations had to be done separately because Schatz had to stay off the knee. After a period of time in a wheelchair, then on crutches, she went through the same pain-staking process on the other knee, wondering all the while how she'd be when the whole ordeal was done.

"A lot of doubt," Schatz said. "But I've always had God on my side. I have pretty strong faith. I've really changed my view since then. It made me even stronger. I've worked harder."

Schatz did the subsequent rehab and returned to running as a freshman. She struggled through a tough season, experiencing discomfort from tendinitis in both knees.

"We assumed (before the injury) that she'd come in as a freshman and turn in 19s," Hebron coach Mike DeFries said.

Slowly but surely, Schatz is working her way back. She finished 12th in the Rensselaer Sectional, helping the Hawks to the title.

"At the end of the season, I kept telling her how awesome it was having the old Lexi back," DeFries said. "It took two solid years of work, doing just a little at a time. She's worked hard, and she's one of our top runners again."

With a strong group of young runners back next year and the arrival of Schatz's sister Payton, who bested Lexi's finish at the middle school state meet by three spots, the future's bright for Hebron.

"It's been a long journey," Schatz said.

Which will make the destination that much more special when Schatz gets there.

When, not if.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which school has the area's best girls tennis team?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News

Latest Local Offers

Featured Businesses