Schwarzkopf completed his first semester on campus having redshirted as an offensive lineman for the UND football team. Rather than experiencing a traditional offseason of healing up and working out, the Bismarck, N.D., native took his game straight from the gridiron to the thrower's cage as a member of UND's track and field team.
Schwarzkopf wasted no time making his mark.
In his collegiate track and field debut on Dec. 7 at North Dakota State's Dakota Duals, Schwarzkopf recorded a shot put mark of 51 feet, 3 ½ inches (15.63 meters). In rankings released earlier this week by the U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), that throw had Schwarzkopf ranked 14th nationally among NCAA Division I football players who are also shot putters. On that same list, he ranks second among freshmen.
"Conrad decided pretty late in the fall to actually continue with track in college, so his success has been a bonus for our program," said UND assistant coach Peter Miller, who works with the team's throwers.
"He only had four practices prior to that throw, so we believe he is capable of doing some really great things. His throw (at the Dakota Duals) would have placed sixth at the 2012 Big Sky Indoor Championship, so we expect him to be an immediate-impact guy at the conference level in both the shot put and discus."
For Schwarzkopf, the decision to join the track and field team wasn't much of a decision at all and he says UND football coach Chris Mussman was all for it.
"I haven't heard of a lot of dual sport athletes in college, especially at the Division I level, but I figured why have any down time? I did three sports at times in high school, so two sports at once is kind of a natural for me."
Miller credits Schwarzkopf's early success to the coaching of Bismarck Century High School coach Mark Murdock, himself a former UND track standout, as well as the well-rounded training he receives as a football player.
"I believe what our football and strength staff is doing for athletic development is helping him as a thrower, and the working relationship built between the sports at this level is very rare. We definitely look forward to working with football over the next few years to recruit and develop some of the best athletes from around the region in both sports," said Miller.
Schwarzkopf feels that the nature of his training will benefit him in both sports.
"Being a football player helps (in track) because you want to be explosive on the line (of scrimmage). That's what the coaches preach. It's the same in throwing; those fast twitch muscles help you throw. It's pretty much all the same lifts, too, the Olympic lifts. There really isn't that much difference."
Schwarzkopf and his teammates return to action tomorrow and Saturday at North Dakota State's Thundering Herd Classic in Fargo.