Whether it’s kickboxing, athletics or academics, Barlow’s Schweitzer maintains balance and focus

Mariella Schweitzer was well into another sport long before she became a state track champion in hurdles, long jump and heptathlon.

I was 4 years old when I learned Taekwondo.

“I don’t know what made me want to do this,” Schweitzer said. “I just knew that as a kid I was active and a little bit naughty. I was a bit of a tomboy. I was like, ‘Martial arts are cool.'”

Mariella has to decide which one is the coolest.

“I have this memory of taking all these different martial arts classes,” she said. “We tried a bunch. I don’t even think I know what taekwondo is. I’m just getting into master’s kind of martial arts.”

There are pictures of the taekwondo trophy as tall as her. no longer. Schweitzer is 5-foot-6 and has a third-level black belt.

During the track season at Joel Barlow High School in Reading, the 17-year-old senior cut his time down to volunteering for classes. Outside of the track season, she resumes training several times a week at Richfield’s world championship kickboxing, including form, self-defense, kicking and scoring.

“I think it’s more of an art than a defense mechanism,” Schweitzer said. “If you think about it, it’s really pretty. The type of kick, being able to whip your leg, all these crazy ways, the power of the kick makes kickboxing different.”

There are only a handful of third-degree black belts in her studio. For the fourth degree (Dan), you have to be 18 years old, she said, and she thinks she has to go to Korea to take the exam. If she has time to go to college, she will continue to take classes.

Schweitzer “absolutely” plans to make martial arts a part of her adult life.

let’s see. Connecticut outdoor record holder 300 hurdles in 43.18 seconds, third-level black belt in taekwondo, future Dartmouth Ivy League program majoring in biomedical engineering.

To quote Barlow coach Ryan Swift, “She’s a very talented young lady.”

This past indoor season has been a satisfying one. As expected, Schweitzer won 55 hurdles (8.52) in the state Open and finished second in the 300 meters. However, it was her long jump that culminated in a state championship and a personal best of 18-5, where she found her greatest improvement.

“It was an event where I always felt like I had a really bad mental handicap,” Schweitzer said. “I don’t think I’m going to get better. I’ve had a big break this indoor season. I’m really happy.”

Although Schweitzer went 17-11.25 in outdoor PR last year, she finished ninth in the state Open with a 16-7.5. This past indoor season, she won the SWC 17-9.25, the M Division 18-4 and the State Open 18-5. She finished second in the New England Championship with an 18-2.25.

Schweitzer credits Dave Lado from New Jersey.

“This indoor season, I started doing real long jumps with coaches,” Schweitzer said. “When I started to understand that, I saw a whole difference in distance and jumping style.”

Schweitzer began competing at the Wilton Running Club in fifth grade. There, she met Kevin Foley, who also serves as an elite Connecticut coach.

“I see hurdlers all the time and am very interested in that,” Schweitzer said. “My coach told me ‘You’re young, you’re too short, you can’t jump over the hurdle right now.’ I ask every year. “Am I ready now? “

Finally, at the end of seventh grade, Foley told her, “Yeah, we can try.”

“It goes with me,” she said. “It was a natural thing to do. The same coach has been coaching me since then and helping me get better over the years. (Foley) moved to Massachusetts and unfortunately hasn’t been able to since December. guide me.”

With no 2020 outdoor track season due to COVID, Schweitzer runs in her backyard and practices hurdles on the patio. Committed to technology. Start lifting. In June, Schweitzer told our Dan Nowak that before COVID, her goal was to break 44 seconds out of the 300 barrier by the end of her senior year. She didn’t know what the state records were.

Then she nearly broke 43 as a junior to win the 2021 State Open in New Britain, where she also won the 100 hurdles by 14.52.

“Going into this outdoor season, I’m excited to possibly break 14,” Schweitzer said. “If I could do it, that would be awesome.”

The status record is 14.16.

Schweitzer decided to enter the CIAC heptathlon in June (a week after the state open) and finished first in the 100 hurdles, 200 hurdles and long jump with 3,974 points.

“This year, I hope to do it again,” she said. “There are several events (heptathlon also includes high jump, javelin, shot put and 800) where I need more training to lower the skills, and then I feel like I can go further.”

Schweitzer said she’s seen a variety of colleges.

“I never thought I would choose Dartmouth,” Schweitzer said. “The coach contacted me in late October. I had an official visit there. What really stood out to me were the people and the environment. I love the team and the coach.

“Out of all the schools I’ve visited, I think it’s really balanced.”

Schweitzer felt that track and field would not overwhelm her studies, and her studies would not overwhelm her athletics. Maybe it’s nature. Maybe nurture. Maybe taekwondo. Balance is important to Mariella Schweitzer. Ultimately, she chose Dartmouth over Virginia and Georgetown.

While I can’t explain the hundreds of people who played the indoor state open at Floyd’s Little Sports Center on February 19, I swear Schweitzer was the only person I saw with a mask that was properly placed over nose and mouth . Schweitzer said her mother advocated wearing masks. Annette Maffei, MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist.

“They say if you wear a mask, you’re disqualified, even though everyone says that’s not true,” Schweitzer said. “I just don’t want to risk any disqualification.

“I was also freaked out by the people around me, and at the height of the season, if my mask was taken off, I would definitely be more likely to be exposed to Covid-19 or leave the New England team because of illness.”

Schweitzer clearly thinks about pretty much everything, though she doesn’t think much of it when asked, but yes, the big kicks in kickboxing do translate into obstacles. Her condition has clearly improved over the years, but even when she’s starting out, she’s not just jumping hurdles like most kids. She is hurdling.

“The big thing taekwondo helped me was mentally,” Schweitzer said. “During high school, I had the ability to take failures or major setbacks and I felt like I handled it very well. I saw a lot of other people around me and if they didn’t play well or got seriously injured, it was really mentally will affect them. Both are mental movements, and if you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t be successful.

“I love track and field, but as I get older, I also know that I won’t be able to keep jumping the hurdles. My dad (Robert) does kickboxing with me. He thinks it’s a really good workout. It’s great for flexibility, Staying in shape and your mind is very useful.”

Schweitzer points to her expertise in breaking boards and sparring to make a point.

“You kind of convince your brain to let go of any fear of what’s going to happen,” Schweitzer said. “Breaking is more painful than you think. Usually at the end of the routine, your feet will bleed. At that moment you have to clear your mind and let go. It helped my run. Let it run. If I did something wrong, just let it go and move on.”

If somehow Mariella Schweitzer broke barriers with her feet and still won the state championship, remember that kickboxing is an art form.

jeff.jacobs@hearstmediact.com; @jeffjacobs123

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