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Prior Lake’s Gabe Smit turns distance running ‘thing’ into accomplished goals

By CHRISTINA LONG, Star Tribune, 06/28/21, 5:15PM CDT


The senior, who won the Class 2A 1,600- and 3,200-meter state titles, is the Star Tribune Metro Boys’ Track Athlete of the Year.

Prior Lake's Gabe Smit, shown winning the 3,200 at the Class 2A state meet, is the Star Tribune Metro Boys' Track Athlete of the Year. Photo: Jeff Wheeler * jeff.wheeler@startribune.com

When Gabe Smit first started running track in seventh grade, he didn’t know what to expect. He was in search of a sport in which he could excel, but also that he would enjoy.

His parents, Tim Smit and Amy Totzke, had been runners at Dakota State University, but they encouraged their son to find his passion on his own. He had played football and basketball before deciding to give track a try.

“I didn’t know what I would be good at or what I would like,” Smit said. “I tried pretty much everything, from the mile down to 110 hurdles. Hurdles were not my thing.”

His “thing” turned out to be distance running. As a Prior Lake senior at the Class 2A track and field state meet at St. Michael-Albertville, he won the 3,200 on Thursday and came back two days later to win the 1,600.

His victory in the 1,600 was among the closest races of the day as he overtook Elliott McArthur of Mounds View in the final lap before McArthur tripped near the finish.

At the start of his senior season, Smit, who ran cross-country in the fall, set two goals for himself: Run a 4:14 mile and a 9:20 two-mile. He achieved both, setting a personal record in the mile at 4:12.44 and, at the state meet, in the two-mile with 9:19.38.

Smit earned a scholarship to run cross-country and track next year at Loyola of Chicago, where he will study biology with the goal of becoming a surgeon.

“I get to run my favorite sport,” Smit said. “I get to follow my passion, but I also get to follow my other passions on the academic side.”

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