Running to the next level

Women’s track and field stars are approaching their final high school season. They share their hopes, goals, and leadership roles, while looking onto their collegiate careers.


Lily Sewell

Anika Sukumar and Kaia Schmidt are school record-holders in running and jumping. Schmidt holds the 5k record and Sukumar holds the triple jump and long jump records.

Track season is on the horizon, and Anika Sukumar and Kaia Schmidt, seniors, are ready to improve times in their respective events and possibly break an Oregon high school state record before continuing their running careers at the collegiate level.

Anika Sukumar

Sukumar competes in the jumping events and a running event. She does the triple jump, long jump, and then runs the 4×4 relay race. She has been running since middle school and is currently a part of a local club track team. In the fall, she will be continuing her athletic and academic career at Cornell University in upstate New York. 

Pullquote Photo

I’m looking to break the state record in triple jump. I am currently seven inches away.

— Anika Sukumar

“I really liked the coach and the team environment there,” Sukumar said. “It seems super supportive and they also have one of the best programs in the country for my major.” 

Besides Cornell, Sukumar also was invited to visit Dartmouth and University of Pennsylvania. Only Cornell had the best program for her major. She will be majoring in design and environmental analysis. 

“I want to do product design after college,” Sukumar said. “I have always loved art but recently [I] became more interested in environmental sustainability.” 

Anika Sukumar gazes up at the track and field record board, where she holds the womens school record for long jump and triple jump. (Lily Sewell)

For two years in a row, Sukumar has won state in triple jump and has qualified for state in long jump as well. This year, however, she is on the hunt for more. 

“I’m looking to break the state record in triple jump,” Sukumar said. “I am currently seven inches away.”

Right now, her personal record is 40 feet and she is looking to jump around 41 feet by the end of the season, as the current Oregon record is 40 feet and seven inches. 

At Cornell, Sukumar will continue to jump the triple jump and long jump. 

Kaia Schmidt

Schmidt runs the 800, 1500, and the 4×4 for the track team. Like Sukumar, she has been running since middle school and the two of them started their running careers on the Athey Creek middle school track team. Schmidt was also part of the girls soccer team, who placed second in state, and broke a school record in the girls 5K during her senior cross country season. She will be running track at the University of California Irvine. 

I will l be running the 800 and the 1500 at [UC] Irvine.

— Kaia Schmidt

The 800 is two full laps around the track, whereas the 1500 is three-and three-quarter laps around the track. 

Schmidt attended a handful of college visits but decided on UC Irvine. Along with UC Irvine, Schmidt also visited Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara University, and University of California San Diego. UC Irvine is located in Irvine, California, part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. 

“I liked the team, the coaches, and the environment,” Schmidt said. “It was kind of just the best out of all of the schools I visited.” 

5k school record holder, Kaia Schmidt poses in her UC Irvine gear. (Lily Sewell)

During her time at UC Irvine, Schmidt will be studying pharmaceutical sciences as she wants to further her education and attend medical school. 

“Going to medical school has always been a dream of mine,” Schmidt said. “Plus I still get to work in a team setting and among others that are as driven as I am.” 

During Schmidt’s previous track season, she went to state for multiple of her events. UC Irvine is looking for Schmidt to have an 800 time of around 2:19, which she has already accomplished as her 800 time is a 2:13. 

“I’m hoping to head into college with lower PRs [personal records] as that’s what my coaches are looking for,” Schmidt said. 

Senior leaders

Now that both Sukumar and Schmidt are seniors they are stepping into leadership roles on the team, in which they will help guide the underclassmen through the upcoming season. 

“I want to keep the spirit up because track meets can get really stressful,” Schmidt said. “I just hope everyone stays positive and keeps their heads up.” 

Schmidt runs middle distance events, meaning she works with a specific group of runners and will be looked up to as a leader for the rest of the group. Similar to Schmidt, Sukumar works with a very small, specific group as well.

“I’ve been good about giving criticism and personalized feedback since jumping can be tedious and overwhelming,” Sukumar said. 

With the new season ahead, the two are preparing for the possible breaking of records and a third state title, as well as their college careers. 

“I feel like girls are going to place again,” Sukumar said. “I think we’re going to get a trophy this year.”

Kaia Schmidt and Anika Sukumar pose in their respective commitment gear.