Wheelchair Athlete Schomaker Competes While Battling State

Jonathan Schomaker competed at the KVAC Championship JV race today amongst his peers, as he did last week at the Mt Blue Relays.

Jonathan Schomaker of Leavitt Area High School, the first wheelchair athlete to compete in cross-country in Maine, received a huge ovation from the crowd as he completed the junior varsity race at the KVAC XC Championship on Saturday at Cony High School.

The 15-year-old Schomaker has cerebellar hypoplasia, a rare neurological condition that affects muscle tone and coordination. He finished the modified two-mile course with the official results listing him in his own wheelchair race, covering the course in 47:35.6.

Schomaker, a sophomore who has competed with his team all season, has been in the news plenty lately due to a long battle with the Maine Prinicipal's Association. Schomaker wants to compete in the regional and state championship meets that are coming up in the next two weeks. 

After an appeal to allow Schomaker to compete in the postseason meets was denied last month, the MPA recently ruled he can race in a separate wheelchair division race. But Jon Schomaker, Jonathan's father who runs alongside him in his races, wants the MPA to allow his son to participate in the regional race - as well as the state meet should Leavitt qualify - alongside his teammates and the other runners.

.On Thursday, a press release from the MPA offered two options for Schomaker.

While granting the school's request for a separate exhibition race, the MPA also offered a separate wheelchair division at the the regional and state championships. Because the State Meet is conducted on the same day and place for all three classes, the wheelchair division could include athletes from any member schools. Under this proposal, wheelchair athletes would be eligible to compete for a medal in the regional meet and would have the potential of competing in a wheelchair division at the State Meet.

Option B would allow Schomaker to compete alongside other runners in the regional meet, but not be  counted as a team member and the scoring of the race would not include a wheelchair division. That would mean that Schomaker wouldn't be able to qualify for the state meet. 

Jon Schomaker said the options bring more questions.

"They both suck," Jon Schomaker said. "They're so close. They're saying, 'We'll give you what you want, sort of, but we will exclude him.'"

The saga continued this past Tuesday when Schomaker, his father, Leavitt coaches, and Southern Maine meet director Mike Griffin where on hand for a test run of the course. The MPA, who were supposed to be in attendance, was noticeably absent.

According to a report by the Sun Journal, Mike Bisson, the head of the MPA's cross-country committee, was sick and unable to attend. 

Another chapter in this ongoing battle will continue on Monday when Leavitt school officials are scheduled to meet with the MPA in an attempt to find a way for Schomaker to compete with his team at the regional and state meets, while being scored in a wheelchair division.

Stay tuned as we will keep you updated on the outcome of Monday's meeting as soon as we have word.