Boys Cross Country: Schulte a welcome addition at Wheeler
UNION TOWNSHIP -- Runner's knees sometimes look like a road map of their careers, the bruises, cuts and scars each telling their own story about their journey.
That's how it is for Wheeler senior Brock Schulte, whose cross country path led him to Union Township after three seasons at Ohio powerhouse Minster.
"I'm still humbled to be here," Schulte said. "I took it as a huge chip on my shoulder. I didn't care which school I went to, it's my senior year in cross country. What I do is what I do, regardless of where I'm at. I'm still going to treat the school with the same respect as if I was at Minster, lead the same, hold people to the same standards."
About a year ago, Schulte found out his family would be moving to Northwest Indiana. His dad, who works for the U.S. Department of Defense, was transferred to Merrillville, and the family purchased a home in Shorewood Forest.
"I saw Wheeler one whole time," Schulte said. "We looked at the ratings, but we didn't school hunt too much."
While his dad moved right away, Brock and his sister Paige stayed back in Minster so he could run his junior cross country season.
"The whole team knew I was moving," he said. "It was like, this is my last ride, this is it. I'd had the same coach for five, six years."
A broken wrist then nearly ended Schulte's season prematurely. He came back a week before Minster's conference meet.
"It was OK, Brock, we know you're leaving, but you don't get any shortcuts, you have to earn it," he said. "I had one week of training, I went straight into fighting for my spot. I barely made it. I slowly made my way to fourth (on the team) by regionals."
Schulte ran a personal best and Minster qualified for state, but by then, he was hobbling around like was walking on glass. The head of his right fibula popped out of place, leaving a huge bump that had to be taped heavily to push it back in place.
"I had to shave my legs for state," he said. "I had to tape around the top of my knee and the bottom of my knee. I had an X, then one going down my leg."
Compensating for the injury caused issues with his left leg, where he developed IT band syndrome.
"The district race, I had to run with my shoe off," Schulte said. "I got a kid's spike stuck down the back of my leg and I think I tore it when I pushed forward to pull my shoe off. I think I tore my labrum, but this is my last year (at Minster), I was gonna run it out. There were pictures of my leg and you could see it. It wouldn't let me go straight. It was all wonky."
Minster finished 16th in the Division III (big schools) meet and Schulte placed 145th. Soon after, he came to Wheeler, where he swam during the winter season before COVID-19 shut down spring sports. Surgery was a consideration, but it would have wiped out the fall season.
"I wouldn't have been walking until just about now and running until mid-September," Schulte said.
Wheeler coach Louie Guillen, in particular, was happy to see Schulte grind through the pain. He graduated six of the seven runners from last year's semistate team, so an experienced runner with some credentials was a God-send.
"He was thrust into that role whether he wanted to or not," Guillen said. "He's done a great job. We started Zoom meetings in May and I put it upon him to get the guys together. A lot of them didn't know him, they'd never met before in their life. They were like, who is this guy? He did a lot of the dirty, uncomfortable work, picking up the guys, making sure they go out and run."
Despite being the new guy, Schulte wasn't uncomfortable with taking on the leadership role, which sometimes constituted ringing doorbells and asking moms to get their sons out of bed.
"I'd get the mom on the doorbell and say, I know your kid is in there sleeping, can you call him?" he said. "We had a spreadsheet so we knew who was running. I'd tell them, we're going to your house. I'd kind of show up at the front door, hi, I'm Brock Schulte, the new senior, get your shoes on, we're going. Some of the nicknames they have are just because we had to go to their house. I'm proud of the guys who came out and ran with me over the summer, took a chance on the new guy. Now we're looking like we have a lot of potential with the young guys."