It was the hottest, slowest start to a race, but Rachel Schneider stayed with the pack.

Last month at the USATF Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, the Sanford resident was part of a 12-woman field in the 1,500-meter junior run. No one wanted to take the lead and the race came down to a sprint in the end, with Schneider finishing second in 4 minutes, 27.26 seconds, less than a second behind Oregon freshman Jordan Hasay. That last sprint was enough to qualify Schneider to represent the United States in the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships this week in Moncton, New Brunswick.

“I knew the field in Iowa would be really tough but I knew if I’d make it, it would be an incredible opportunity for me to do this,” said Schneider, who went to high school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover, N.H. “In Moncton, I want to do the best I can. I don’t really know what to expect (and) I don’t know what the competition is like, other than Jordan Hasay. I want to try to make it to the finals and run as fast as I can.”

The women’s junior 1,500 preliminaries are scheduled for Friday and the finals Sunday at the University of Moncton.

Schneider, a former New England champion in the 800 and 1,600, recently completed her freshman year at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she is studying human science and running cross country, indoor and outdoor track. This past year, Schneider competed in the NCAA Division I cross country championships, earned All-America status as part of Georgetown’s distance medley relay, which finished third at the NCAA indoor track championships, and finished sixth in the 1,500 at the Big East championships in May.

“I trained with the team since August, and I got home two weeks ago,” Schneider said. “It’s a great running program and it’s been awesome to work with my coach. It’s really motivating and it’s a lot of fun, and it’s helped me so much.”

When Georgetown cross country and distance coach Chris Miltenberg recruited Schneider, he wasn’t just looking at times and distances. He learned about her training background as well as her psychological makeup, particularly her drive and her determination — two intangibles that are critical to elite athletes.

Schneider’s breakthrough, Miltenberg believes, came at an indoor meet at Penn State in January, where Schneider ran the 1,000 in 2:49.25 to finish third.

“It was more impressive how she did it, as an unknown freshman running with some of the best runners in the country,” Miltenberg said. “She went out and put her nose right into it.”

Schneider’s tenaciousness helped set her apart from other young college runners.

“I’ve seen a lot of people over the years who can get themselves ready, but if they don’t have that innate confidence to put themselves in there and take a chance, they will never know what they’re capable of,” Miltenberg said. “Rachel has that intangible.”

With two older runners redshirted this past year, Schneider took advantage of her opportunity to make an impact on the Hoyas’ cross country program.

“I’d argue that she was probably the second-best freshman in the country, behind Jordan Hasay of Oregon, who’s been on the national radar since she was in the ninth or 10th grade,” Miltenberg said. “People on the national level probably wondered, ‘Who is Rachel Schneider?”‘

More than three weeks after that hot day in Iowa, Schneider will be part of a 38-runner field, led by Ethiopia’s Kalkidan Gezahegne, who has the top qualifying time of 4:02.98.

“I’m so excited,” Schneider said. “I can’t believe it, I’m going to be representing Team USA. Being able to be a part of that team is an incredible experience.”

Miltenberg sees the world championships as a steppingstone for Schneider, where she will be one of more than 1,400 athletes participating.

“It’s going to be great for her future,” he said. “It’s going to be very eye-opening. Now, you’re going to go run against some of the best juniors in the world. It’s going to make her realize what more is out there and how much better she wants to get.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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