GREEN  Stewart "Stu" Schmidt racked up an outstanding career while running cross country for Green High School for four years, setting a number of school records and qualifying to the state meet as a sophomore, junior and senior.

A team leader, Schmidt attracted the attention of a number of colleges for his outstanding efforts. After visiting a number of schools, he decided on Stetson University, a small college in central Florida, near DeLand, with about 4,000 students. The university was rated one of the top five regional universities in the South.

For Schmidt the choice was hard, as he was moving to an area where he had no family and only a few friends in the area. But he liked the university after visiting with his parents and he was offered a full scholarship. On the plus side it was in Florida, which is ideal for running year-round.

"It was quite a change, Schmidt said, "compared to the experienced running track at Green. The altitude, humidity and heat were much different than running in Ohio."

The other thing that changed was the fact that while at Green runners were more judged on their individual efforts. However, at Stetson, the emphasis was on how well the team did, not the individual performance. This was a quite a mental change."

Normally, Schmidt's practice routine is to run 12 to 17 miles on Mondays, Wednesdays an Fridays; eight miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 14 miles on Sunday.

"This training schedule would be modified when we had meets, but we normally ran around 80 miles a week in practice," he said. "And off-course, we also had our classes to go to along with homework. It kept us pretty busy."

The results so far have been rewarding. He is rated third out of the five team members who received scholarships. And in the final meet of the year at the NCAA South Regionals, Schmidt placed 146 out of a field of 180 in a 10K (6.2 miles) race with his father and mother looking on. His time of 35:46 was the third best in school history.

"While it was not that impressive a finish, a lot of guys didn't complete the course, so I am happy with that, but want to improve for next year," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he was fortunate this year the college gave out scholarships for cross country, and he was one of the five to be selected. Interestingly enough, the college does not have a scholarship program set up for football program.

"The transition was tough," Schmidt said, "because of the loose support system. I was use to my parents and sister, Sydney, being there to cheer me on at meets. But I have been fortunate that my family has been able to make it down to watch me run several times, which really made me very happy."

The move also challenged Stu in a number of other ways.

"I think it has really helped me grow as an individual," he said. "I have become more mature, and independent. I have learned to manage my time and schedule, from studying since college is much different than high school,to doing my laundry between classes.  I have found that I control my future and destiny."

Overall, the college experience has been good for Schmidt.

"College can be fun, but it is also tough," he said. "You have to strive to find the right balance."

And he really likes the campus and people in Central Florida. Of course, there are some downsides.

"One night, we missed out on seafood night at the dining hall because we were away at a meet," he joked. "That was a bummer because they had a special treat that night, lobster."