Centralia is a tradition rich sports town in Northeast Kansas that is always consistently producing athletes in just about every high school sport it offers for both boys and girls. The town known for NFL Hall of Famer John Riggins and football, is also very well known for its volleyball. It's also known for state champion track and field athletes over the years. This year its no different. Senior Breanna Schmitz is looking to be one of the best pole vaulters in the state for 2019.
Schmitz, already a two-time 1A state champ in the vault, also has one of the best vault coaches in the state. That coach, Kimbrook Tennall, a high school volleyball coaching legend, has also had a lot of successfull pole vaulters in the tiny town of Centralia, population 514. Schmitz has a PR of 11'6 coming into the season and won state titles as a freshman and junior last season. That mark ranked 7th in all classifications of Kansas last season and tied for first among all juniors in 2018. She also took second in the state as a sophomore in 2017. The 1A state meet record is 11'7" by Keara Walsh of Sharon Springs-Wallace County of 11-07 in 2000.
Schmitz has had opportunities at all levels, including Division I and Division II, but has chosen to vault next season at Bethany College out of the NAIA.
Centralia also returns Madison Leuger in the javelin who won a state title last season and is one of the top javelin throwers in the country. She has signed with Nebraska.
We caught up with Schmitz below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is presented by Koch and Company in Seneca, Kansas. Best of luck to Breanna this season. Koch and Company is proud to support local athletics on a statewide platform with Sports in Kansas. See our ad in the top right corner.
Q&A w/ Schmitz
How did you get involved in track and field?
Coach Tennal selects who he would like to try pole vault and I was one of his choices. He chose me in seventh-grade because I was a gymnast as are many pole vaulters. I struggled a little bit my first year but have always loved it. After my eighth grade year, Tennal recommended that I go to Tailwind Pole Vault Club for a camp. I’ve been to Tailwind more times than I can count to try to improve. I went from 8’8 after my eighth-grade year to 10’ my freshman year. I made 10’9 my sophomore year and 11’6 my junior year. I’ve always loved this sport ever since I started and have wanted to continue to compete after high school since the beginning. I’m very thankful for a chance to accomplish my dream.
What are your goals this season?
My goals this season are to break the state record, which I am only an inch away from. I also hope to make 12’6 this year.
Do you guys have a shot to do big things this year?
I have a shot to do great things this year. I have a shot to win another state championship as does my team. The closest competitor goes 10’ as of right now. I know that they will improve and so will I. This sport isn’t always about competing against others instead it is about competing against yourself to continue to make better heights.
What makes you such a force as an athlete?
I never give up. I have a great attitude and try not to get frustrated when things aren’t going exactly how I want them. I practice almost every weekend during the offseason and six out of seven days a week during track season.
What’s the atmosphere like to play sports for your school and town?
Playing sports at my school is a given. Almost everyone in high school is involved in at least one sport. We strive to be the best, and most of the time we achieve that goal. I’m glad I attended this school because it pushes me to work as hard as possible and to never give up. We are a very competitive school, not only with each other but with other schools as well. The parents and spectators in our town expect the most out of our athletes. They expect greatness and hard work from each athlete.
For anyone that hasn’t seen you or your team compete, why come and support?
Around here, I know many of the spectators love watching me because they haven’t seen girl pole vaulters go as high as I have. Many people also love the sport of pole vault in general because it’s so daring and dangerous.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a competitor?
During meets, my weakness is that I am too hard on myself because I over analyze and overthink what I am doing. My strengths are that I am continually looking to improve, and I am hard working and determined.
How does track and field help you in all sports, if you play multiple sports?
Track and field helps you in all sports because it works all of your muscles to keep them strong. Track and field also keeps you in shape for other sports.
Who are other key athletes on your team we need to look for?
Maddy Lueger in the javelin, Daegan Steinlage in the discus, Isaac Gore in the 400, Kamble Haverkamp in the 800, Tamra Jones in the 300 hurdles, and Kennedy Becker in the long jump.
Favorite thing about track and field?
My favorite thing about track and field is that it is an individual sport and a team sport all in one. I get to compete for myself and not worry about letting other people down if I have an off day. It is also a team sport because the place you get adds points to your team to try to win. Our team is good about cheering each other on even when they’re not participating in that event.
How cool is the state track and field experience in Wichita?
The state track and field experience is like no other. I had never been to watch the state meet before my freshman year. It was a little nerve-racking to me having to compete in front of so many people. My advice to anyone wanting to do track in high school is to go to the state track meet as a spectator before you get into high school.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I played volleyball freshman through junior year, and I was a setter. I couldn’t do it my senior year due to a shoulder injury during track that would have kept me from serving and would have been a big hindrance. I have done cheer all throughout high school, and I am the flyer.
What is it like to compete for your coach?
My coaches are very supportive which makes them enjoyable to work with. They all have a competitive nature and have my best interest at heart.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
I pole vault almost every weekend at Tailwind Pole Vault Club to continue to improve. I have a weights class every day where I do pole vault workouts and run. Most of the team is involved in other sports so they stay conditioned for track season.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
My plans are to attend Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas to study athletic training and continue my pole vault career.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
My favorite thing to do when I’m not playing sports is to be around my friends and family. I especially like spending time with my grandparents and great-grandparents when I am not practicing or playing sports.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to be employed at a college working as an athletic trainer and coach.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is math. I am a very conscientious student. My GPA is 3.5
Who is your role model?
One of my role models is Katie Nageotte. She is an amazing pole vaulter who works hard for how far she has come. She is one of the few that posts not only about her good jump days but also her bad. She is down to earth and very selfless.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
There are no restaurants in my town, but the best place to eat around Centralia is the Mexican restaurant in Seneca.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about me is that I want to coach pole vault at the collegiate level.