As a junior running wind sprints in football practice, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Max Schwegman usually found himself crossing the finish line first, but it never dawned on him just how fast he ran back then.
“I thought maybe the other guys were getting tired, because I knew I was getting tired,” Schwegman remembered.
As a slot receiver and defensive back, Schwegman decided on a whim to give track a try that spring with the hopes of improving his footwork for the upcoming football season.
“It just took off with a life of its own,” Schwegman said of last year’s track season. “I had no idea what I was doing, it was the first time I had ever taken a shot at it. It was definitely nerve-wracking, but as the season progressed, I got faster and faster.”
The Birmingham resident remembers that he lost his first-ever race, but soon after found his stride.
Schwegman ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and by the end of the season had dropped more than a full second in his races.
The unlikely journey on the track culminated with a sixth-place finish in the 200 at the Division 2 state championship, in which he also broke the school record in 22.22 seconds. Schwegman also qualified for the final in the 100, but scratched his start to focus on the 200.
With the current track season just starting, he’s now focusing on finishing in front of the pack.
“A state championship is always a goal in the back of my mind and definitely is a big motivator for all the work I put in during the offseason,” he said. “More specifically, I want to drop my (times).”
On top of being an All-State sprinter in his first season, Schwegman did it with limited practice abilities because Prep doesn’t have a track or starting blocks. The Fighting Irish drive to other local high schools multiple times a week to use their facilities.
“It was definitely limited practice opportunities, but we had to make the most of it. We did what we could,” he said, adding that the athletes run in the school gym or on the football field.
Schwegman said he needs to improve his starts because he feels it is the weakest part of his race.
“It’s hard to deny when looking at my starts last year, and I’m dead last out of the blocks, no doubt it had an impact. But it’s not a negative thought during the race. During the race, its ‘get there as fast as fast as I can — point A to point B and don’t look back,’” he said.
Schwegman’s successes don’t stop on the track. In the classroom, he carries a 4.7 grade point average.
In November, he was one of only two students in the state to win the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. In February, he was one of four from Michigan to win the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Admissions Association Scholarship.
Both awards take into account performances in school and in athletics.
“I feel really honored to be selected, to not just one, but for both,” Schwegman said. “It really is a blessing for me and certainly a lot of hard work to get there, but I’m grateful for the opportunity and also proud to represent my school and community.”
Following this spring, Schwegman will attend and run track at Princeton University or Yale University — a scenario that never crossed his mind a season ago.
“I never would had imagined it. I really was looking heavily into the recruiting process for football, and then track came along and took a life of its own. I feel really blessed for that,” he said.