Benefield: El Molino runner Brian Schulz sets a determined pace
I’ve seen this face before.
Anyone who has watched El Molino junior Brian Schulz run has seen it: His face contorted in, what is it? Pain? Rage? Drive?
But I’m seeing this face at a pre-meet, Tuesday afternoon practice. And in the weight room no less.
Distance runners are not known to get after it in the weight room, especially not the day before a meet.
But here’s Schulz, possibly the Empire’s premier boys’ distance runner this track season, the day before today’s meet with Healdsburg High, lifting weights, doing pull-ups, core work and working his triceps.
It’s like the guy doesn’t ever stop pushing. And, according to his dad, El Molino’s distance coach Hal Schulz, it isn’t wise to ask him to stop.
It seems that when Brian was 8, his older half-brother Hunter was training for a major hike so needed to put in a 20-mile run. Brian wanted to go along. Hal Schulz acquiesced but thought it best if the route took the brothers by the house in loops, so Brian could drop off any time he wanted.
“At three or four miles Brian is keeping up with him. I said, ‘Brian, why don’t we just stop?’ And he was pissed,” Hal Schulz remembered. “So he went eight miles and pretty darned brisk.”
Brian Schulz has been running at a “pretty darned brisk” clip ever since.
He’s posted the Empire’s fastest times in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races this season.
Schultz set top 10 all-Empire times for freshmen and sophomores in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races his first two years at El Molino.
His 9:18 at the HOKA One National Two-Mile Postal Competition in November put him in fourth all time in the Redwood Empire for juniors and fastest since all-time record holder Luis Luna ran an 8:55 in 2011. Convert the 2-mile to 3,200 meters and he jumps to third all time fastest.
He owns the cross country course record at Ragle Park in Sebastopol.
He finished second in the North Coast Section cross country meet last fall and seventh at the state meet in Woodward Park in Fresno with a 15:38. As a sophomore he finished 44th with a 16:33 and as a freshman he took 40th with a time of 16:41.
He’s cut 15 seconds from his 3,200 meter time since freshman year, dropping his time from 9:27 to 9:12, a personal record he set at the massive Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles last weekend. That time puts him in the top 10 all-time in the Empire.
And he likely could have gone faster.
“It went out a lot slower than I thought, definitely,” he said. “There was not a lot of room to move out.”
“I wanted to kick a lot sooner. I wanted to go with two laps to go,” he said.
But after fighting his way out of the crowded box of runners, he had to settle for a kick inside the final lap and still picked off a talented field and finished fifth in his heat.
“It was great,” Hal Schulz said. “It was like a big train coming through and everyone is going fast.”