Her hand covering her mouth, Kristie Schoffield’s look as she crossed the finish line at the 2022 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, seemed to say “I can’t believe what just happened.”
Afterward, Schoffield said she always knew she could win the 800 meters. But the truth is, there was a time she wasn’t so sure she would even continue running competitively.
Six months earlier, the Boise State senior pondered transferring or even hanging up her running shoes, frustrated that she wasn’t performing as she did earlier in her career.
After she finished an impressive sixth at nationals in 2019, COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season, and Schoffield finished 21st in the semifinals in 2021, failing to reach the final heat.
“I didn’t want to do it anymore, it was a low point for me,” Schoffield said. “But I thought ‘it’s my last year,’ so I put all my focus on changing my training and bought into myself more. Winning that race was a culmination of five years at Boise State.”
A distance-based runner most of her life, Schoffield focused on sprints to gear up for her run at a national championship, working closely with Gavin O’Neal, a Boise State assistant coach.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been around someone with such a competitive spirit who thrives in a championship moment,” said O’Neal, who noted that Schoffield’s “closing speed is ridiculous.”
Working with O’Neal during the season was key, Schoffield said. “That made a big difference. In practice, I’d visualize being in the NCAA final. If I had a few reps left, it would be like ‘I’m in the final, I have to finish like I would there.’ It went through my head a lot before I was actually in that scenario. It was tough at times, but Coach O. kept saying ‘it’s going to happen.’”
And he was right. Schoffield’s time of two minutes, 1.09 seconds in the national final was a Mountain West Conference and Boise State record and made her the fourth Boise State female athlete to win a national championship. A month later, the Mountain West league office selected her the 2021-22 Mountain West Female Athlete of the Year.
A Concord, New Hampshire native, Schoffield graduated from Boise State in 2022 with a degree in biology with a cellular, molecular and biomedical emphasis. She plans to run professionally.