Freshman Jason Robinson Breaking New Ground in Section 3

Photo via Lia Garnes

For the first time, in a long time, the Section 3 State qualifier hosted a wheelchair athlete in his bid to compete at the State Championship.  Wheelchair athlete Jason Robinson (Westmoreland) did just that, clocking a new US #2 in the 1600m at 3:59.71, and a new US #1 at 8:23.35.

The measure for inclusion was approved way back in March.  Below was a mention by the blog of the NYSSWA (http://newyorksportswriters.org), who follows much of the administration of High School Sports in NY.

Having already made a giant leap into inclusion with its Unified Sports offerings for students with intellectual disabilities, the NYSPHSAA is moving closer to an innovative program to bring wheelchair athletes into mainstream track and field competition.

   Meeting last week, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association officers gave approval to a one-year pilot program for participation in meets by wheelchair competitors this spring. It could be OK'd as a permanent program when the NYSPHSAA Central Committee meets in July.

   With the impetus being the recent participation in modified track and field by two wheelchair athletes, the NYSPHSAA pulled together a plan that draws from one that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has had in place for quite some time. The state's track and field coordinators, ADs and coaches at the two schools and the families of the two athletes were consulted as the details were worked out.

   The rules kick in once the appropriate medical documentation is supplied and the school applies for a special accommodation. The short version of the scoring goes like this:

   If there's one wheelchair athlete, he or she will be competing against the clock or the tape measure in the 100, 400, 800 and 1,500 (or 1,600) meters, shot put or discus. By meeting the standard (for example, 1:40 in the boys 400 meters), they earn a point for their team.

   If there are two competitors, the winner scores two points per event and the runner-up one. For three or more athletes, the scoring is on a 5-3-1 basis.

   In the postseason, the top finisher will advance to the next level of competition.

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Robinson himself is no newcomer to the Sport (and not to be confused with Jason Robinson, of Wheelchair Rugby fame).  He has been competing in numerous Wheelchair division races his whole life.  It was only until recently that he had an avenue to compete at the High School Level in an official capacity.  But that doesn't mean he is inexperienced.  He has competed in high level competition such as the Utica Boilermaker, the Falmouth Mile and the 5th Avenue Mile.  He also competed for Westmoreland at the modified level.

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While the event may be new to Section 3, it is not without precedent.  Many other States include Wheelchair races at the State Level, chief among them being North Carolina.  Even this Winter, the PSAL contested the Indoor Girls 600m WC Race at the PSAL City Champs, won by Joanna Nieh (Beacon)

You can check out the full Boys National WC Rankings, as hosted by MileSplit, below.


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