All smiles for Sadie Schreiner after a gutsy run to third place in the women's 200 meter NCAA final. | Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Rochester Institute of Technology sophomore sprinter Sadie Schreiner reached one goal at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships in Myrtle Beach, S.C. this weekend. In Saturday’s rain-delayed set of finals, she stepped into the starter blocks with two chances to win a national championship.

On the fifth anniversary of CeCé Telfer’s history-making 400-meter hurdles title in Division II, Schreiner did not become the third transgender woman to win an NCAA individual championship, but she did perform with distinction.

The rough part was the final at 400 meters, her favorite event. Heading into the final stretch, she was in the thick of the fight with Washington University (Mo.) standout Emma Kelley and defending national champion Kenadee Wayt of Mount Union.

As they powered into the stretch, Schreiner faded from third to an eighth-place finish at 56.60 seconds and well off her personal best. It was a disappointing start with the 200 meter finals looming less than 90 minutes away.

video courtesy of NCAA Productions

The 200 looked to begin where the 400 left off. Schreiner was mid-pack through the turn, but powered down the straight to move from fifth to third place behind champion Lauren Jarrett of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, who fought off a determined Wayt in a winning 23.82 seconds.

Schreiner’s gritty effort came in at a personal best 24.12, but she noted prior to these championships what it would take to best a highly competitive group of sprinters.

“There’s a lot of great athletes and its super competitive,” she noted last week. “I wouldn’t surprised of someone dropped a 23 in the 200 here.”

On the podium, Schreiner was all smiles and with good reason. In her first collegiate season she reached her first NCAA championship meet and is a two-time All-American as a sophomore. She joins Telfer and University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas as trans women who are multi-time NCAA All-Americans.

She also leaves this meet with an uncertain future. The NCAA recently said that their revamped trans inclusion policy is “under further review”. Starting with fall practices for 2024-2025, the policy calls for eligibility for transgender women in women’s competition to be based on the policy for the world or national governing body for each individual sport.

If that policy is maintained, Schreiner’s hard-fought third place in the 200 would mark her last college race. Her eligibility would be tied to World Athletics policy and the world governing body for her sport banned transgender women from women’s events last March.

Schreiner said these thoughts powered her this season and will compel her to speak out for inclusion as the discussion continues. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform as well as possibly at the meet,” she said. “Even though I have three years of eligibility, I might only get one to actually compete in.”

“I will do anything I can to keep competing and I believe there is a lot of evidential backing as to why I should be allowed to compete and why any transgender athlete should be allowed to compete,” she continued. “So many decisions are being made by people who aren’t athletes and people who aren’t trans and they aren’t opening up to the discussion to the people they are criticizing. We need to open up more conversations to them as we are making these big decisions.”