At last month’s Class B outdoor track meet, Leavitt Area High School junior Jonathan Schomaker had competition in the wheelchair shot put and 100-meter wheelchair finals for the first time.

It was much appreciated. 

“It was great,” Schomaker said of Yarmouth freshman Ethan Hennig providing competition at the state meet. “He actually might want to do cross country. It’s great, like I said in my interview after my cross country state meet (in 2019), I wanted to” A, race, and B, I want to open up the doors for other wheelchair races. He doesn’t know yet if he can race in cross country, but he will let me know if he does.”

Leavitt Area High School’s Jonathan Schomaker has been traveling around the country to compete in Adaptive Track and Field meets following a successful junior season of outdoor track. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

Hennig beat Schomaker by 0.86 second in the 100, while Schomaker got the better of Hennig in the shot put by 4.5 inches. Schomaker, who lives in Greene, also finished first in the 800-meter (3:35.87). 

“He is a wheelchair basketball kid so he is really fast off the line,” Jon Schomaker, Jonathan’s father, said of Hennig. “He took Jonathan in the 100, and Jonathan was right on his tail, which was cool to see.”

Before and after the state meet, the Schomakers started traveling the country this spring to different Adaptive Track and Field meets in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Hillsdale, New Jersey; and Atlanta, Georgia. 

Jonathan Schomaker competed in many events at these meets, since there are no restrictions on the number of events an athlete can enter at one meet — unlike in Maine, where athletes are maxed out at four events. At the Adaptive meets, Schomaker competes in the 100, 200, 400, 800, the mile and the shot put. He’s started to keep track of which track is conducive to his chair while also scoping out where he would like to go to school after his high school graduation next spring. 

“I was excited to go places,” Jonathan Schomaker said. “Each place had its upsides and downsides. In Atlanta and New Jersey they had very smooth tracks which I flew on. In Milwaukee they had a fast track, it’s a track surface like my school’s track surface. The good part of it was it was in Milwaukee, which is on the border of Illinois, I believe, which has the school I hope to go to, which is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of their track program; and, plus, I want to major in recreational therapy.”

The numbers of athletes at the meets has decreased a little this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, but that hasn’t dampened spirits. 

“New Jersey was pretty small, I think there were 28, but that was track only,” Jon Schomaker said. “Typically, a lot of these meets have different sports like powerlifting, archery, swimming, track and field. There were probably around 50 in Milwaukee, that was a little bit better because they had field one day and track events the other. The field day was in the 90s (degrees Fahrenheit), then the next morning for track it was cold, windy and rainy. He still did good.”

Schomaker, who has cerebellar hypoplasia and uses one wheelchair for everyday activities and another while competing in races, has a specific classification in the Adaptive Track meets. 

“In his classification there are not many athletes like him,” Jon Schomaker said of his son. “The 30s are the cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, that sort of thing. More commonly are the 50s, like spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, and so most of those guys have full control of their upper bodies, full coordination, balance and so they tend to be faster. So, Jonathan’s a 33 TF, T is for track, F is for Field, and 33 is, first of all, wheelchair, and he’s on the more disabled side of wheelchair athletes. There are more severe than him, but there just aren’t that many (like) him. He’s competing against basically the clock and himself, like he usually does, but sometimes he’s in a race with the 50s guys and some of them hand his butt to him.”

“I was able to keep up with some of the 54s,” Jonathan Schomaker added. “When I was getting classified they didn’t know if I was a 33 or a 32 because of my disability. I remember seeing something like there are nine people out in the world with my disability and I am the only high-functioning one that I know.”

As Schomaker gears up for the Move United Junior Nationals in Thornton, Colorado, from July 17-23, he continues to help other wheelchair athletes reach their dreams. After the Sun Journal wrote a series of stories on Schomaker’s fight to participate in the Maine high school postseason cross country events in 2019, Jon said that Jonathan received messages from other states, such as North Carolina to Texas, with words of encouragement. 

Schomaker said he’s looking forward to the 2021 cross country season, when he’ll be a senior, and that he has a new chair to use during competition.

Leavitt Area High School’s Jonathan Schomaker has been traveling around the country to compete in Adaptive Track and Field meets following a successful junior season of outdoor track. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

In between nationals and the Maine cross country season, Schomaker has special plans. In August, he hopes to be a part of a Make-A-Wish event to help the organization that once granted his wish by providing him with a gym/swing set. 

“The Trailblaze Challenge (Sept. 10-12) and it’s a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, and Jonathan is hopefully going to be an ambassador for it,” Jon Schomaker said. “Age is an issue, COVID is an issue. It’s a 23-mile hike on trails, and supposedly it’s for adults only and not for the Wish kids — and Jonathan is a Wish kid — but we are trying to figure out what Jonathan can do to be a part of it. Hopefully he can be an ambassador, do a meet-and-greet, and do a couple miles of the hike. He wants to do the whole thing.”

“I’ve never set limits for myself,” Jonathan added.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Daily Headlines

  • Sign up and get the top stories to begin the day delivered to your inbox at 6 a.m.