Wheeler James Hagen has a favorite memory of his first season on the track team—qualifying to compete at the State Meet

James Hagen, 7th grade wheelchair competitor for the Sleepy Eye Unified Track team, has a favorite memory of his first season on the team—qualifying to compete at the State Meet. Head Coach John Cselovszki agreed. “It was a great opportunity for James to be able to compete at the state level,” Cselovszki said.

James competed in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and the shot put at state, held at Hamline University in St. Paul on June 8 and 9. He improved on his results from the Section 2A meet, placing third in both his races, with a time of 48.51 seconds in the 100 meter dash and 1:37.74 in the 200. He matched his personal record of 5 feet even in the shot put.

James said he got interested in competing in the wheelchair events when his sister Abigail competed in the section meet last year and he met Aiden Gravelle, the wheelchair racer from the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial-Nicollet track team. “Seeing him race made me realize that I might be able to participate in track also,” said James. “The sprint events looked cool, so I decided to try it out for myself. It gave me a way to be part of the track team.”

In addition to Abigail, James’ brother Joshua is on the team and his mom, Lisa, is an assistant coach.

James said his favorite part of competing at the state meet was meeting Aiden (again) and Peyton Gunnarson—wheelchair racer from the Lewiston-Altura team. Peyton and Aiden are currently the top two junior wheelers in national competition, placing first and second in the USTAF Junior Championship. James also enjoyed receiving his third place awards.

“Definitely, going to state, and being able to race against Aiden and Peyton at state, will be my favorite memories of the season,” James said.