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Broadview-Lavina's Madison Schwehr

Broadview-Lavina’s Madison Schwehr won four events at last week’s District 6C track meet. She and her brother Mike will be competing at the Southern C Divisional in Laurel on Thursday.

Mike and Madison Schwehr were born to run.

Their parents, Craig and Kelli, met at a track meet in high school. Both were distance runners and ran some cross country in college.

“We’ve been running for a long time,” said Mike Schwehr, a senior on the Broadview-Lavina track team. “(Our parents) kind of encouraged us when we were little with Big Sky State Games.

“My mom’s been coaching for a long time. We would ride the bus and go to track meets, and we would just watch people compete. We just loved the atmosphere … just kind of taking that and making our own of it.”

Kelli Schwehr has been coaching track since 1998. She was the head coach at Lavina until 2003, when it consolidated with Broadview. Now, she’s in her first year as a co-head coach for the co-op.

At last week’s District 6C meet, the Broadview-Lavina boys took the team title, and the girls finished second. Both Mike and Madison won four events – Mike the 400-, 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs, and Madison the 800, 1600, triple jump and pole vault.

“They actually had a little competition going, trying to see who could score more points,” their mother/coach said. “It’s fun to watch them, because they play off of each other that way. They’re pretty much training partners.”

Kelli says Mike and Madison have been competitive “since kindergarten play day — who can jump farther, run farther, who has the most ribbons.”

At the district meet, Madison’s third-place in the 300-meter hurdles helped her outscore Mike (who placed fourth in the triple jump) by two points.

“He heard a lot about it right after the meet was over on the bus,” laughed Madison, a junior. “During the meet, it’s all friendly. We mostly get along and encourage each other. As soon as the meet’s up, that’s when the points come out.”

“She likes to beat me,” admitted Mike. “She lets me hear it a little bit. I kind of take it as criticism and just have to try to work harder the next week.”

Hard work has never been an issue for the Schwehrs. Their parents instilled that quality in them as they were growing up. And they witnessed it the hard way.

Their dad, Craig Schwehr, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1997. He passed away in February 2012 at the age of 39.

“He pretty much went through every obstacle and kept going,” Kelli said. “While on dialysis, he got a degree and got a job and started coaching.

“You just keep working and plug away. And the kids saw that. You can’t sit back and watch life pass you by.”

Craig was a track coach, too, and would cheer his kids on, even when he was coaching at Melstone.

Last season, their first without their dad, was tough for Mike and Madison as they adjusted to not having him in the infield. He was the one who changed out Madison’s spikes between events.

Kelli remembers a moment when Madison burst into tears, because she couldn’t get one of her spikes changed.

As time passed, things eventually got easier.

“It’s definitely hard there without him,” Mike said. “He was a big part of what we ran for. I mean, we do think about it a lot. It means a lot to us to be able to do so well and be able to kind of carry it on.”

“It feels amazing,” added Madison. “I know he’s watching us when we run.”

He’ll be watching today, as his two kids run at the Southern C Divisional track meet in Laurel.

While the Schwehrs are a family of runners, Madison is most looking forward to competing in the pole vault.

It’s her favorite event, “because you’re not running,” laughed Madison, who won the district meet with a vault of 8 feet, 6 inches. “Since I’m going to be so busy with all my other events, my goal is just to clear as many heights without missing.

“The pole I’m transitioning to is a little bigger and a little heavier than the one I’ve been using, so I just need to practice and get used to how it bends.”

For Mike, he doesn’t shy away from his running roots. His favorite event is the 800.

“There’s no time to make a pace and just slow down and take it easy,” Mike explained. “You just have to go out and give it all you have until your tank is empty. That’s how I approach it. Hopefully the finish line comes before you run out of gas.”

And what about another friendly brother-sister competition?

“Oh, yeah,” Madison exclaimed without hesitation. “We’ll probably see who gets the most points again this week.

“It’s kind of just bragging rights, like ‘Who got this week?’”

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Online sports editor for The Billings Gazette.