A four-year letterman at Escanaba High School, Wayne Schwalbach was a dominant athlete who had a unique combination of great speed and power. During his time playing for the Eskymos, Schwalbach earned 10 letters in football, basketball and track.
Schwalbach has long been considered one of the greatest running backs from the U.P, but also was a stalwart linebacker. In that same year, he was named to the Class A All-State Team, only the second player in the U.P to receive that honor. He was selected the UP Class A-B Back of the Year in both his junior and senior years. While at Escanaba, he set many school records including career touchdowns (32 - a record that stood for almost 30 years), yards rushed in a career (2,204), most points in a game (24), most points in season (116), most career points (210), most game TDs (4), most season TDs (18), most yards rushed in a game (208), most yards rushing in season (1100) and most rushing attempts (375).
In addition to his football prowess, Schwalbach's greatest legacy in U.P. sports was on the track. During his senior year, he set three U.P. records at the 1974 track finals in Marquette that have yet to be broken. He is still the only U.P. athlete to break the 10-second barrier in the 100-yard dash (9.9) and he also broke the 220-yard dash record with a time of 22.9 seconds. Maybe even more amazing was his performance in the shot put at the very same meet, when he threw the shot 58' 7". This combination of speed and strength has never been matched by another Upper Peninsula athlete.
After high school, Schwalbach attended Central Michigan University on a full-ride football scholarship. He was a four-year Letterman and three year starter for the Chippewas and a member of the 1974 NCAA Division II National Championship Team. He was twice named All-Mac Tight End, holds the longest punt record for Central at 86 yards, played in the East-West Shrine game his senior year and went on to sign as a free agent with the Pittsburg Steelers.