|Sport||Track & Field|
During the 1996 Summer Olympics, Alice Schmidt was 14 years old. As the budding track star watched the Games, a bit of disappointment flowed through her mind.
“I remember watching those ’96 Olympics and thinking to myself, ‘I’m past my prime!’” Schmidt said with a laugh. “It was like, ‘If I’m not close now, I’ll never make it!’”
A dozen years later, the Elkhorn grad did make it.
Schmidt represented the U.S. in the 2008 Olympics in the 800. Four years later, she returned to run the 800 and 1,500. The Olympic appearances are accompanied by plenty of other honors: a 2006 U.S. indoor 800 championship; a pair of U.S. outdoor silvers in the 800 (2006, 2008); and while with the North Carolina Tar Heels, two outdoor 800 titles and a distance-medley relay championship.
Before all the national recognition, Schmidt was making an impact in Nebraska. After she dabbled in track growing up in Illinois, Schmidt continued running when her family moved to Elkhorn before her eighth-grade year. In 1999, as a high school junior, she found herself atop the state record book in the 800 meters at 2:08.6 — a mark that still stands.
“When she set that state record in high school,” said Jim Brown, her former track coach at Elkhorn, “I remember saying that nothing she will do during the rest of her career will surprise me.”
Schmidt credited her high school coaches for setting her on the right path.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I had down the line,” Schmidt said. “There were a lot of parts of running I didn’t love as a high schooler. But with their support, I could go to college for free and it opened doors for me down the road.”
Schmidt, a 2015 Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee, collected five career all-class gold medals and 12 Class B gold medals at the state meet. At North Carolina, she was a nine-time All-American. But it’s the Olympics that people remember her for.
“Everything is to the next level,” Schmidt said. “It’s a bigger deal; more people are paying attention.”
Schmidt ran in a few meets after the 2012 Olympics before hanging up the spikes to enroll at the University of Virginia in 2013. A year later, she was accepted into medical school at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she and husband James Kehaya live.
Played for: Elkhorn High, North Carolina Tar Heels and Adidas
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Former Husker Anne Shadle. "I've seen her a lot in Europe. She always kicked me in cross country in high school."
Best moment as an athlete: After primarily running the 800 in her career, Schmidt says that she was particularly proud after setting a personal-best time in the 1,500 meters at the Prefontaine meet in Oregon heading into the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Schmidt was No. 85 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »