Delano's 4-time winner at state track meet keeps it calm

  • Updated: June 10, 2014 - 9:20 PM

When she’s not competing, the most successful participant at the recently completed track and field state state meet spends most of her time wearing hard plastic orthotics on both of her ankles to help her walk.

When it’s time to hit the track, Delano junior Marissa Bartels climbs into a wheelchair and becomes one of the state’s top athletes.

Bartels, who was born with Spina Bifida (improper formation of the vertebrae around the spinal cord), rolled to four gold medals in the state meet’s wheelchair division, winning the 100-meter and 800-meter races and taking first in the shot put and discus championships.

“It was so fun this year,” said Bartels, who also plays wheelchair basketball and softball. “I’m still amazed that I could do what I did, especially with the weather on Saturday.”

Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Bartels about what led to her competing in a wheelchair and where, in turn, it’s taken her.

 

Q: How long have you been competing in wheelchair sports?

A: I didn’t start until I was in eighth grade. Up until then, I did able-bodied sports. I was able to keep up. I didn’t have the limitations I do now. Around seventh grade, I decided I couldn’t keep up with my basketball team anymore. My mom heard about wheelchair basketball and I decided to give it a try.

 

Q: How did that go?

A: At first, I was hesitant. But I decided to give it a try and I fell in love with it.

 

Q: Of the four championships you won, which is your favorite?

A: My 100-meter-dash. In the race this year, I was able to come back and beat the girl who won it last year. That was pretty cool.

 

Q: What was the key to that race?

A: For me, I was calm before the race. Then I had one of the best starts I’ve ever had. The start is the most important thing. That race is so short that if you fall behind right off the bat, you feel like you can’t catch up.

 

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