MISSOULA — Montana Grizzly sophomore Carly Smiedala is rewriting the UM track and field record books, setting new program marks in the indoor and outdoor women’s 800-meter run.
Smiedala, who recently won the Big Sky Conference outdoor championship in the 800, was one of the most decorated runners in Helena High history, setting numerous track and field records. The 2016 State AA 400-meter dash champion competed during an era consisting of arguably the greatest group of girls middle distance runners in state history — Christina Aragon of Billings Senior, Annie Hill of Kalispell Glacier, Makena and Bryn Morley of Bigfork, Pipi Eitel of Belgrade and others — benefiting from the competition.
A fierce, but eventually friendly rivalry with Aragon, who set all-class records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, as well as the Class AA record in the 400, motivated Smiedala to trim her times.
“I don’t think it was frustrating at all having Christina, Annie, even the Morley sisters. If anything, it was just inspiring seeing, every weekend it was some record being broken. Every weekend it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, did you hear what one of them did?’ It honestly pushed me even harder, you know?” Smiedala said. “I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be on that level with them and the great times they were breaking. Christina, how many records did she break? It’s unbelievable. Having everyone around during that short period of time, I think that pushed all of us. Now we’re looking for the next people to push us. It’s crazy and we were all super-lucky to have each other.”
Those high school showdowns led Smiedala to strive for greatness at the next level, competing at the University of Montana. She broke Grizzly program records in the indoor and outdoor 800-meter runs this season, while also capturing the Big Sky Conference’s outdoor 800-meter championship earlier this month.
She enters this week’s NCAA West Regional ranked No. 25 in the 800, boasting a season-best time of 2:06.22.
Despite finding success early in her collegiate career, Smiedala, described by Helena High girls track and field coach Sheila Williams as “intense” and “always wanting to excel,” isn’t satisfied.
“My storybook ending would probably be to run under two minutes. If I could do that I would be happy. I’ll be happy either way, but I would really like to run under two minutes,” she said of her 800-meter run. “I want to end off my career with a great race, whatever that may be in that moment, whatever I can do, just end up healthy and have a great race for my last race. That would be great.”
Her career can already be summed up as a success, and one thing is for certain. Carly Smiedala isn’t in the shadows anymore.
Click the video above to hear more from Smiedala, Williams and Helena High assistant track coach Jesse Zentz on Smiedala’s striving for greatness and rise to record-holder in the MontanaSports.com Original: “Out of the shadows.”