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Shana Martin

Shana Martin

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Penn State's athletic history boasts national champions, iconic coaches, Olympians, a Heisman trophy winner, first round draft picks and now a boom running world champion.Alyse Schroeder, a toxicology major and full time student, captured the world's top ranking in a thrilling race on June 25th.

The junior finished in 11.14 seconds, just edging opponent and event favorite Shana Martin, who ran in 11.28 seconds."I had been working my butt off to become champion, it was a relief," Schroeder said.

"It was a satisfaction knowing that all of my hard work had paid off."This weekend, she will defend her title.Boom running is part of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS series and the Lumberjack World Championship.

In the event, two competitors race down a series of logs connected by rope to a small dock.

Once they reach the dock, the athletes have to go around a marker, usually a large barrel then race back down the logs for the finish.Schroeder began her professional career last year at the Lumberjack World Championship, held annually in her hometown of Hayward, Wisc., and placed third.

At the 2009 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS series, which is televised as part of ESPN's outdoor games, the junior won the title in front of a national audience."Honestly, its an unreal experience -- especially winning," Schroeder said.

"Everybody is smothering you, and it's amazing.

Seeing myself on TV is a surreal experience."Wendy Schroeder, Alyse's mother, got her daughter into the sport when the family moved to Hayward from Minneapolis.

After the Schroeders settled in, an acquaintance asked if the girls wanted to try log rolling.Alyse and her sister Lauryn went out to try, and the two have been competing ever since.

Schroeder has been involved in amateur and pro level competitions in both log rolling and boom running since age 7, and her sister has been following her the whole time."I had never heard of a thing like log running, so I said 'sure,' " Wendy said.

Living in Hayward allows Schroeder to train on the Lumberjack series track, which is located in a lake by her home.

The sisters spend two hours a day running the course when they are home.When classes are in session and without access to an actual course, Schroeder uses a multitude of other training methods.

While at Penn State, Schroeder's focus is to just stay in shape, and she goes to the gym every day while running distance and a multitude of sprints.

"We obviously don't have a log at school, so I do a lot of running and strength training in my legs," Schroeder said.

"It is hard, but none of the competitions are during the winter, so I'm not losing that much."While the girls don't have an actual coach, they have a unique support group to help them prepare for competitions.

Alyse was taught by former men's world champion J.


Slazman and currently trains with 2008 women's champ Taylor Duffy.The closest the sisters have to a coach is their father, Brian, who wrestled for the University of Minnesota.

Despite not having any experience actually competing, Brian brings his own touch to the training."They call me their coach, but I really can't give them any pointers in the actual event," Brian Schroeder said.

"But I do know what kind of dedication it takes to achieve the kind of success they've had.

If anything, I'm a little hard on them actually."The training for boom running is demanding, and the girls' father has taken to the role of patching up their frequent injuries.

Brian said he sees his job as keeping his daughters going through the pain and giving them the push to succeed.While the lumberjack series of games has a professional and amateur level, the premier events like this weekend's are professional invite-only outings.

Therefore, Alyse only has to defend her title at invitational events sponsored by STIHL or the Lumberjack Championship.Schroeder's success at such a young age took many on the circuit by surprise, she said.

She placed third in just her first invitational event, and captured the title less than a year later."It was quite an upset for Alyse to win the STIHL national competition," Brian Schroeder said.

"She beat an unbelievable athlete by a fraction of a second.

It was an upset to most people.

Alyse came out of nowhere in the last two years to be at that level."When she is at Penn State, Schroeder is also a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

The ability to manage her classwork, training and social life is not lost on her mother."Alyse is extremely organized.

She's taken some summer courses so she could get ahead," Wendy Schroeder said.

"She does a really good job of making sure she can get everything in, and she's a pretty balanced individual."Lauryn followed her sister into the pro circuit last year, and her father said she has become the youngest professional competitor ever at age 13.While Schroeder's success came early, this weekend's competition will prove to be the biggest challenge in her still growing career.

Several competitors who missed June's event will be returning to take their shot at the title.Though the level of difficulty will go up, Brian believes his daughter will keep her position among the best in the world.

Realistically, he thinks Alyse will be in the top three, but defending is not a certainty."It is going to be close.

It will be fractions of seconds between the top three," Brian Schroeder said.

"No question about it, she'll be in the top three, but it's too close to call.

It's going to be extremely difficult."Regardless of this weekend's outcome, Schroeder's career in boom running is off to an unprecedented start, and she will only get better with more experience, Brian said.

The energy, effort and dedication she puts into every aspect of her life has earned the adulation of her parents."I'm proud of her.

She's a good kid and a good athlete," Brian said.

" I'm proud of the fact both of them put that kind of energy into an activity, though they really bring that energy into everything they do."
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