Leavitt's Jonathan Schomaker has been granted the opportunity to compete in the upcoming regional cross-country championship, according to the Maine Principal's Association (MPA) on Friday afternoon.
The MPA committee, along with Leavitt cross country coach Neil Rioux, Mike Griffin the meet director, and Greely coach Dave Dowling toured the Twin Brook recreation course on Monday October 7th to look at the possibility of Schomaker being allowed to compete in both the regional and state meets.
On Friday, the MPA changed course from two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago the MPA denied an appeal to let the sophomore from Leavitt High School compete amongst his peers in the post season due to safety concerns. This appeal was a year in the works as Schomaker was unable to compete in the regional and states meets in 2018.
According to an article posted in the Sun Journal on September 27th, When asked about the safety concerns Friday, Mike Bisson, the head of the MPA's cross country committee, told the Sun Journal that he was worried about a crash occurring between Schomaker's chair and another runner on a loop where a runner is coming through an already-ran path. Read full article here
Throughout the regular season Schomaker has competed in several meets, often time on a modified course.
On Tuesday all those involved will return to Twin Brook recreation park in Cumberland to conduct a test run on the course to see how long it will take Schomaker to complete the "A" loop. After the test run the MPA plans to make a final ruling on whether or not he will compete in a separate race, or with the runners in the Class B race.
The Sun journal article posted on Friday October 11th stated Ultimately, what we are talking about is one left turn," Rioux said. "The proposed modified course is, when he comes out of the 'B' and 'C' loops, and there's the tree line in the middle, before he would turn and go back towards the 'A' loop, he would go left down a more gradual grade that's parallel with the trees and then turn around the trees and go down the finish shoot. If he did the middle school loop, then he would come in perpendicular with the shoot, and that would be a real safety concern. Read complete article here
This is the first time the MPA has had to consider a wheelchair athlete competing in cross-country. Schomaker has competed at the MPA state indoor & outdoor track & field championships.
Wisconsin has hosted a wheelchair state championship in cross-country for the last 23 years, last year in 2018 they had one female finisher, and three male finishers. They compete on a separate course, and a separate race than the non-wheelchair athletes.