Inclusion. The sports of cross country and track and field have a way of wrapping all those involved like a blanket.
It's no suprise the Ohio High School Athletic Association has assigned wheelchair finales in the 100-meter dash, 400, 800 and shot put for boys and girls.
No divisions. No districts. No regionals. No teams points. It's all about the individuals. Top eight in each boys and girls event go to state.
The running events are going to be divvied up in the 100, 400 and 800. The shot put is part of the Division I field events - all on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in and out of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on The Ohio State University campus.
The Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country coaches will keep track of the top eight times and distances during the regular season heading into state.
State. For those able-bodied athletes, it's the Holy Grail of the sport. Those physically disabled athletes will feel the same pride at Columbus.
OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said there were about 27,000 people attending this year's state meet.
"That's a tremendous event in the state and that's with it raining all day Friday," Ross said. "It's one of the best venues in the country and people actively support the kids that are running.
"This will be a wonderful opportunity for those kids to compete in that kind of facility with 12,000 people cheering them on. They deserve that."
There are many athletes around the state that want to excel at track and field. Being in a wheelchair shouldn't stop those who want to be outstanding and feel the exhilaration of being on the awards stand in the middle of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The OHSAA and the OATCCC made these hardworking athletes part of the track and field fold.
"There are still some logistics to work out, but we have a tremendous model to look at from the Olympic Committee. This has been a very good year in cross country and track in Ohio, with Sami Stoner competing in the fall (blind runner from Lexington), then this past week with Meghan Vogel from West Liberty-Salem and her act of sportsmanship, and today with the decision from the Board of Directors to move forward on this.
"The OATCCC brought this to us and already had a lot of pieces in place. They deserve a lot of the credit."
Charlie Huebner, United States Olympic Committee Chief of Paralympics, said this is groundbreaking experience for Ohio.
"The impact on the young athletes with physical disabilities participating in this championship will be incredible," Huebner said in a news release. "They will be representing their schools and communities in ways that have never been seen in Ohio. I commend the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the state track and field coaches association for making this dream a reality for the athletes participating in Paralympic sport."
It's a dream all of these newcomers to track and field will experience in 2013.
"It was time for us to create a situation for our students-athletes to have that opportunity to have success," OATCCC president Ed Lidderdale said.