Mary Grace Carroll is heading east. Julia Schumacher is going west.
Carroll and Schumacher, two pivotal pieces of Davenport Assumption’s recent girls track and field success, announced their college plans Monday evening on social media.
Carroll, a sprinter, will continue her track and field career at Boston College, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Schumacher, a distance standout, will run cross country and track at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz.
Both have competed on three straight state championship teams for the Knights. They'll be eligible to sign national letters of intent next Wednesday on the first day of the signing period.
Carroll said she’s been fascinated living on the east coast. Boston College is located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
“When I went on my official visit there (the last week of September), it was a match made in heaven,” she said. “I clicked with the girls on the team, with the coaching staff. It seemed like I was already a member of the team. It was so nice.”
Carroll has focused primarily on the 100 and 200 meters during her high school career. She plans to run more 400s this upcoming track season.
“I want to be a little more well-rounded so I can excel more at the next level,” she said.
Carroll anchored the Knights’ Drake Relays victory in the 400 relay (48.97 seconds) last spring. She also ran on the second place sprint medley and third place 800 relay. She had a pair of top-four finishes in relays at the state meet.
Boston College’s program has been distance-heavy in the past. Carroll said the Eagles are trying to build up their sprint program.
“I never thought I’d run at the Division I level,” Carroll said. “It is a dream come true.”
Carroll looked at St. Thomas in Minnesota and Johns Hopkins University, another school on the east coast.
“Most of the schools I planned to visit, I cancelled because I had my heart set on Boston College,” she said.
Schumacher, meanwhile, considered Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette and Miami (Ohio). The 2015 state cross country champion also had contact with Arizona State and Alabama.
However, Schumacher was drawn to Grand Canyon coach Sara Slattery, a four-time NCAA champion at Colorado who has been a member of multiple U.S. National Teams and a professional distance runner since 2005.
“She knows what it is like to have success and what it takes to be successful,” Schumacher said. “I’m really confident in Sarah, and that’s an important part liking your coach because you’re around them so often. Having her believe in me is a big deal for me, too.”
Schumacher said Grand Canyon, which has just transitioned from Division II to I in the last four years, is a perfect fit.
“Other big-time programs, I would come in and be more of a climber and have to work my way up, more or less starting as just a number,” she said. “This is a smaller Division I where I won’t come in and be overwhelmed where it would make me want to quit or fall out of love with the sport.”
It has been a trying last few months for Schumacher.
After three consecutive top-10 finishes at the state cross country meet and multiple medalist in the 3,000 at state track, Schumacher was 39th last weekend at the Class 3A state meet in Fort Dodge. She couldn’t run for eight weeks this summer because of a stress fracture.
“It was one of the most frustrating points but one of the best learning experiences of my life,” she said. "It helped me grow as a runner, and it helps me appreciate it more. After not running at all for (two months), it showed how much I love to be a runner.”
Schumacher hopes with a winter of training, she can regain her place as one of the state's top distance runners in 3A.
“I have to think God knocked me down for a reason, maybe for me to get back up and realize how important running is to me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to my senior track season because we have a lot of things to prove this year with the senior class that we just had leave.”