Leavitt Area High School sophomore Jonathan Schomaker traveled to Twin Brook Recreation Area to get an idea of how he will maneuver the cross country course with his wheelchair at the Class B South regional meet later this month.

Schomaker went through the Cumberland course, first on a golf cart, then on his wheelchair, to help meet director Mike Griffin and Leavitt Coach Neal Rioux see where Schomaker might be at certain parts of the race compared to the top runners.

Last week, Mike Bisson, head of the MPA’s cross-country committee, said he would be meeting with Schomaker and his family, as well as Leavitt coaches, to see parts of the course and watch him practice. However, no Maine Principals’ Association officials were at Tuesday’s meeting.

Schomaker, 15,  who has cerebellar hypoplasia, a rare neurological condition that affects muscle tone and coordination, is trying to convince the MPA that he can participate in the regional race — as well as the state meet, should Leavitt qualify — alongside his teammates and the other runners.

His appeal to compete in the postseason meets was denied last month, but last week the MPA said he can race in a separate wheelchair division race. The 15-year-old Greene resident, though, is continuing his fight to race with his team.

The biggest area of concern for race officials is the entrance to the ‘A’ loop on the Twin Brook course. Officials are concerned that there will be too much two-way traffic if Schomaker enters the ‘A’ loop at the same time the top runners exit the loop, as is expected.

Schomaker’s father, Jon, who was also at Tuesday’s meeting, said that there is a way around that.

“The fastest runners would be coming out while he goes in, but there’s a bypass that basically cuts it off,” Jon Schomaker, who runs alongside his son during races, said. “There are a lot of options, and it’s just if we can find one that works.”

Regardless of who he races with, Schomaker will be scored in a separate wheelchair division.

Jon Schomaker came away from Tuesday’s trial optimistic, and knowing that the course is suitable for his son’s wheelchair.

“It gave some good information on how long it takes to get through each section, so that leaves a lot of options for a modified course to eliminate the two-way traffic,” Schomaker said. “The course is absolutely doable, which we knew.

“The first half-mile is slow because you start at the bottom of the hill and it’s grass, but he made up for a lot of it once you get in the woods. It’s pretty smooth. There are still some hills but it’s not so bad, he could handle it.”

While Jonathan did well, Jon Schomaker is disappointed that the MPA still has not seen the Leavitt sophomore race, or even use his wheelchair.

“I was surprised and disappointed,” Schomaker said. “We still have a lot of people that haven’t seen him. Get your eyeballs on it and see what he does before you make assumptions. At that point I would’ve said, ‘Jonathan, hop out for a second.’ Then I would’ve told them to, ‘Sit, get in there and try it and tell me that kid isn’t an athlete and that he doesn’t deserve to do this.’ Every kid on the team has tried that chair and the coaches have tried it and it’s humbling. He gains instant respect when people try it.”

Mike Bisson, the head of the MPA’s cross country committee, told the Sun Journal on Tuesday that he was not sure if a final decision will be reached by Wednesday.

The B South regional meet is Saturday, Oct. 26.

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