BLOOMINGTON — The family business never seemed all that appealing to Keondre Schumacher.
And that was fine with Keondre’s father, Illinois Wesleyan track and field coach Chris Schumacher.
“My dad never really pushed me to ever run track,” Keondre said. “I never pictured myself running track.”
Chris and his wife, Amy, watched Keondre do his running on the basketball court as a standout guard at University High School before transferring from Winthrop to join Coach Ron Rose’s IWU basketball roster.
That was all the sporting activity Keondre needed until attending track meets this spring to watch roommates Samuel Painter and Davis Nguy compete.
“It looked super exciting, and the energy was awesome,” said Keondre. “I thought I might come out for the first time ever and here I am.”
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Keondre has not only joined his father’s team, he has given the Titans a powerful sprinter.
His 10.94-second clocking in the 100-meter dash is the fourth fastest in school history since fully automatic times became the norm in the 1990s. Keondre also has become the fourth runner in a Titans 400-meter relay that won the Sycamore Open in Terre Haute, Ind., over several Division I entries.
“His roommates would kind of jokingly tell him you need to come out. He said he might try it,” said the elder Schumacher, who is also the head women’s track coach and has four Division III national championships on his resume. “It went from goofing around to talking about it to he’s all in.”
Following through on that commitment was hardly a breeze for Keondre, who took on a different type of conditioning.
“One of the first track workouts at the end of practice I couldn’t even walk. I couldn’t even see,” Keondre said. “As we progressed through the spring, I definitely picked up some better endurance."
“We were doing workouts for people training all year,” Chris said. “He got really sore. He had to work through a couple weeks of flexibility.”
Keondre teamed with Painter, Cyrus Clarke and Dylan Ruskin for a 42.33 performance in the 400-meter relay at Indiana State.
“That was cool to beat some Division I teams,” said Keondre. “Hopefully we can get down in the 41 range so we can make it to nationals.”
Chris believes his son is faster running 100 meters as part of a relay with staggered starting lanes instead of an individual race.
“He runs that different than he runs the 100 even though it’s the same distance,” said the Titan coach. “He’s running with the idea of getting the baton to the next person. He’s not thinking about the finish line. He’s aggressive. He’s just being an athlete there.”
Keondre has led 100-meter dashes past the halfway point but been overtaken in the final 20-30 meters.
“I feel like that’s been almost every race,” he said. “The first at least 60 meters I’m in the lead and guys with more experience caught up and passed me. I’ve got to work on the endurance part of it.”
“In the 100, with guys next to him he tightens up and fights himself a little bit,” Chris said. “With really good training and being relaxed and also aggressive, his 100s should continue to come down. But it’s not an overnight process.”
Keondre initially looked at track as a means to improve his speed for basketball season.
“That was part of the mentality that this will get me faster and more explosive,” he said. “But I actually love running track. It’s a lot of fun, especially since I don’t have to run more than 11 seconds at a time.”
Rose enjoys seeing his guard succeed at another sport. The 5-foot-11 Schumacher averaged 8.1 points and shot 54.5 percent from 3-point range in IWU’s shortened 2021 basketball season.
“I’ve said all along there wasn’t anybody faster at our level than Keondre playing basketball. He’s making a statement that is true,” Rose said. “It’s really unique his dad is track coach and he never ran track before. What a neat experience to get to run for your dad.”
Keondre plans to play at least one more basketball season with the Titans along with returning to track next spring. He has two years of basketball eligibility remaining should be choose to use them.
“Dad says he wishes he could freeze time right now,” said Keondre. “Being on my dad’s team is a blessing.”
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