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When trying to figure out where to go to college, some students have to sweat out a tough decision.
Hayley Schake, not so much.
In a ceremony at Los Alamos High School Thursday, Schake signed a National Letter of Intent to run track for Hastings College, making her the second Hilltopper athlete this month to commit to a college running program.
Schake, who will be looking to earn a starting nod for the Hastings Broncos in the 200 meters and 400 meters, is a fixture on the Hilltopper relay teams.
At the state meet last season, Schake helped three relays to top-three finishes, including running the third leg on the state champion 400 relay squad that finished in 48.71 seconds, just .21 seconds behind the 2012 record-setting team that was also from Los Alamos.
Schake said she got a case of the butterflies as she put pen to paper Thursday.
“It’s kind of unreal,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to Hastings and my parents went there, and getting a track scholarship was, like, unbelievable.”
Both her parents, Brad and Ann, attended Hastings and Schake’s dad was a member of the Bronco men’s team during his time there.
Hastings is a small, NAIA school in Hastings, Neb. The student body consists of roughly 1,200 students – its population is only about as big as LAHS.
Schake said that, despite coming from a family filled with Hastings alumni, she wanted to go up and see the campus for herself.
“I met with the coaches and they were super-nice,” she said. “They were thrilled that I was considering it. And the campus is super-nice.”
Schake said she hadn’t completely decided what she would major in when she got to Hastings, but was considering either education or biochemistry.
Beyond Hastings, Schake said she considered a few other colleges, including a couple others in Nebraska, along with Adams State – a popular destination for Hilltopper athletes — and even Northern Arizona, but said with her family’s history with the Broncos’ program, it wasn’t a difficult decision.
“If I went to a bigger school, I wouldn’t have run track,” she said. “That’s why I wanted a small school.”
She said she will have to start preparations for the indoor season as soon as she walks on the campus this fall, but that is doable for her, as she feels she’s in the best shape of her life heading into this spring’s prep season.
This year, Schake wants to post a sub-1 minute 400 meters. Her personal record time in that event is just over a minute but she wants to get that time down.
And, of course, she wants to help the Hilltoppers get back to championship form. They finished second last year after winning four straight team titles between 2009-2012.
Hastings is being led this year by first-year head coach Ryan Mahoney. On the women’s team for 2013-14 is a gaggle of underclassmen – more than half the team’s roster heading into this spring is freshmen.
Schake said she didn’t know what her chances were of getting a starting nod this year, but she feels like she’s ready for the challenge.
Plus, she will have some alumni rooting for her.