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Quit clapping, just respect these athletes

COLUMBUS

THIS column was to be about how great this year’s state track and field meet was and how it is my favorite event to attend every year.

I was going to talk about how Howland senior Vinny Mauri was amazing in his final running, winning his long-awaited state championship in the 3200-meter run.

There was going to be mention of Garfield senior Tyler Klouda, who told me I was the first one to interview him at the Division II Lakeview Regional.

Then, there’s McDonald’s Zach Gray, who won the Division III boys discus — the third Blue Devils male to win that event this decade.

I cannot forget Badger’s Brandon Greathouse, who made my interviews more like talking to one my good friends instead of work (great for a good laugh).

Instead, this is no laughing matter. In the words of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, this grinds my gears.

I see the seated athlete wheel out for their 100, 400 or 800 events. There are no more co-ed events. There are separate boys and girls event because the sport has grown, even more than last season. It’s progress.

These athletes have to achieve certain marks in the shot put or times in the aforementioned running events.

The next step: QUIT CLAPPING EVERY TIME THESE ATHLETES COME OUT ON THE TRACK. They are athletes. They use different means to compete on the track, but they are athletes nonetheless. Clapping for them like they are a spectacle, someone to be pitied, grinds my gears. I know I’m not the only one who shares this opinion.

Southeast High School graduate and University of Illinois student Jenna Fesemyer. She was the ambassador for this sport, winning the first-ever gold medal in the sport in 2013. Her continued work in this sport has made it possible for others to follow her path to state, giving others the opportunity to show their talents in the sport of track and field.

Look later this week for a story on how area seated athletes want to be more than a so-called special part of this sport.

Some meets around here count points for seated athletes toward team scores, but most don’t. Not everyone has pole vault, only a select few schools have this event. Even though some schools should like Warren G. Harding. The Raiders are missing out on points and giving other athletes opportunities, like heading to state.

The same could be said for seated athletes around Ohio.

Fesemyer competes at the University of Illinois and hopes to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. She’s has the dogged determination of those high-caliber athletes around this state.

Mauri is heading to Arizona State, while Klouda is going to Illinois State. Gray is going to Youngstown State University, while Greathouse said his career might be over. I certainly hope not. Are we listening YSU?

Let’s not deny these seated athletes. Find a way to count their points toward team totals. That way, schools will want to add this facet to their team and might find their own Fesemyer.

Then, and only then, we can clap for their great performances, not who they are. Because, they yearn to be like everyone else, athletes.

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