Northern Star: John Schwinghamer

For this week's segment, we feature a St. Scholastica runner and skier who spent this past summer in Jackson, Wyoming helping fight wildfires.

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s been quite the year for St. Scholastica senior John Schwinghamer. He qualified for the NCAA Skiing championships, then was All-UMAC in outdoor track and field in just his second season with the Saints.

“I like how they all work together, they’re all endurance sports. I love to run but I’m better at skiing but I still have the opportunity here to run so it’s just fun,” Schwinghamer said.

And this summer, he was in Jackson, Wyoming helping fight wildfires.

“It was fun. You get to go hang out in the woods and play in the dirt,” Schwinghamer said.

This was Schwinghamer’s second summer out in Wyoming.

“My high school ski coach Chip Gerdin called and asked if I wanted a summer job and I said sure. I applied for that, he said I got the job, that was Friday and he said you start work on Monday,” Schwinghamer said of his first summer.

While he was out there, Schwinghamer worked a variety of jobs as part of an engine crew.

“On some fire assignments, we were working with the engines, spraying water, spraying foam. Other fire assignments, I got to go with like a tee crew which is like a 20 person hand crew that we would go and dig line, cut line, cut hot line,” Schwinghamer added.

And he said that the long hours outside helped him stay physically fit before returning to campus and starting his seasons.

“It’s super lowkey, all-day work so there was no intensity with it, but I got a bunch of hours in and train in a different way,” Schwinghamer said.

When he returned, Schwinghamer was surprised to learn about the wildfires happening in Northern Minnesota.

“This year was just so hot and dry and usually there’s not a lot of fires in Minnesota, they’re all out west. So it was kind of interesting to see that. When I got out to Jackson, 80 percent of the west was in a drought so it just continued onward through the eastern zone,” Schwinghamer said.

Schwinghamer said he might return to Wyoming next year as he plans to take a gap year before starting medical school. But for now, he plans to put all of his focus into his last three athletic seasons with St. Scholastica.

“I’m looking forward to running, it’s my last cross country season so I’m excited for that. Skiing I’m really looking forward to that, I’m excited to get in the snow finally and star skiing again,” Schwinghamer added.

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