Jillian Weidner Becomes State Champion

The sophomore track and field athlete took home first place in the 100m and 200m wheelchair dash

Lizzie Kallal, Staff Reporter

Sophomore Jillian Weidner became the state champion in the track and field wheelchair 100m and 200m race last summer as the pandemic pushed the season into the weeks after school got out.

Weidner started competing in track in 8th grade, but Covid-19 unfortunately shut down that season. So, their first competition was freshman year.

Competing in track is fairly new for Weidner, but their past with wheelchair sports goes back many years, starting with wheelchair basketball.

“In 4th grade I had an organization called Bridge2Sports come to my elementary school and have a presentation on disabilities. The coach at the time invited me to play wheelchair basketball with them, and several years later I was offered a racing chair to participate in track,” Weidner said.

The first meet Weidner competed in was at Heritage High School.

“I actually got one of my best times at that meet, and I’m almost positive it was the adrenaline. I was so scared that day.”

Getting prepared for the meet is crucial to success. Weidner trains by doing workouts especially made for them, specifically made by their coaches, while also having their own ways to prepare right before the meet.

“Before every race, I like to stretch a copious amount and practice my starts, so I feel prepared going into it,” Weidner said.

Something different for Weidner is that while competing in states, they were the only one in the race.

“It was rewarding to get gold, but I don’t really feel like I deserve the award. I am very proud of myself, and it is very cool to look and see the medals everyday but it’s not as cool as it could have been if I got to compete against someone,” Weidner said.

Still, Weidner had to set a qualifying time at regionals to even be allowed to compete at states.

Not competing against anyone brings struggles that not every runner has to think about. Constantly competing and staying motivated against yourself can be discouraging week after week.

“I kind of feel like I cheated by getting gold. I didn’t necessarily have to put in any work; I did, I worked very hard to get where I am, but I didn’t have to beat anyone, there was no one to try and best, only myself,” Weidner said.

Even after winning states, Weidner has personal goals of beating the state record by the time of their graduation in 2024.

“I wouldn’t say winning changed my perspective. I still have my goals, and I don’t plan on stopping the sport until I meet them.”

Although Weidner enjoys competing in track, the Paralympics is not in the future for them.

“As much as I love the sport I don’t want it to consume my life”