By CHRIS DOBROWOLSKI
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — As one book’s chapter closes, another one begins.
One day after he graduated from Traverse City Central, T.J. Schwannecke secured his immediate future when he signed a letter-of-intent to run track for Wagner College.
Schwannecke’s signing on Monday was the culmination of a standout career for Central’s top sprinter and a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.
“It feels awesome just to sign the paper, get it over with and know where I’m going to school next year and know I’m in a good spot. It was really stressful all through the spring just trying to figure out where I was going to go. It took a toll on me,” he said.
Schwannecke visited the Staten Island, N.Y., school two weeks ago, loved the opportunities that New York City offered and decided then and there to make his commitment to the Seahawks, who compete in the Northeast Conference.
“I really liked the kids on the team. I thought it was the best fit for me,” Schwannecke said. “Two completely different worlds (New York City and Traverse City), but I love the city. I’m excited to see where it takes me. I have a recruiting web site, NCSA, and they found me there, gave me a call and said they were interested. They liked my times and gave me an offer.”
Schwannecke is the reigning Big North Conference champion in the 100-meter dash and ran a season best 11.25 at the Record-Eagle Honor Roll meet. He also was a state qualifier with the Trojans’ 1,600 relay team that ran the second fastest time in school history in that event on Saturday (3:25.9). He also was among the north’s best in the 200 and 400, running season bests of 22.65 and 50.48, respectively.
“He’s just done a great job in the relays and in the opens. We asked him to do the 400, 200 and 100 and he excelled in all of them,” said TC Central boys track coach John Lober. “It’s pretty hard to be first in all of those events and he was. If he wasn’t first he was second, and we had some good runners in the conference this year.”
Schwannecke is slated to run the 400 in college, but he’s willing to fill in wherever the team needs him. The Seahawks finished sixth out of 11 teams in this year’s conference meet. Monmouth is the dominant team in the conference, having won five straight league titles.
“He will do very well,” Lober said. “The reason I’m saying that is because he’s a hard worker. He’s got talent, but he’s a hard worker. He’s proven that in the classroom and he’s proven that on the sports field. His senior year he decided he would devote himself to track. He was fast so he could do a lot of things other guys couldn’t do.”
Schwannecke was joined at the signing by his parents, Tom and Deanie, Central athletic director Cody Inglis and a handful of his football and track teammates. He’s the ninth TC Central athlete from this year’s senior class to sign with a college or university to continue their athletic and academic careers.
“I’m thrilled for him,” said Tom Schwannecke. “Everyone asked me if I was going to be emotional through the commencement and graduation and I’m not. It may be tough to pull away from New York City and leave him there, but he loves that portion of it and he’s looking forward to the opportunity and we’re looking forward to it for him.”
Schwannecke is the second area athlete in the last two years to make the transition from the Northwest Lower Peninsula to Wagner. Former Suttons Bay standout and Mr. Basketball Dwaun Anderson just completed his first season playing hoops for the Seahawks.
“I knew Dwaun Anderson went there,” said Schwannecke. “When people ask me, ‘where’s Wagner College?’ I say ‘that’s where Dwaun goes’ because a lot of people know Dwaun.”