MONAHANS, Tx (ABC Big 2/Fox 24) – For Hope Santiago and Zachary Carter, being in a wheelchair is all they’ve ever known.
Hope was born with a rare heart condition and Zach was born with spina bifida.
“It hasn’t really made a difference to me because this is all I know- my chair. If I see something that’s difficult, I figure it out,” said Zach.
And while both admit it has provided its own set of difficulties, it hasn’t held them back from playing sports.
“We found out some people that were doing a lot of sports and we found out about this racing and we thought ‘oh we’ll give it a try,” Hope said.
Both Hope and Zach have been on Monahans’ track and field team their entire high school careers. Track coaches Terry Galindo and Robert Ontiveroz said Hope and Zach both do the same training and workouts the other athletes do. However, Ontiveroz did say the starts in particular are a little different in the wheelchair races.
“She doesn’t get to use blocks. So as soon as the gun shoots, she’s trying to get to rolling as quick as she can and get some momentum going so that’s something that we’ve worked on and put a lot of stress on because she does to a lot of sprints,” he said.
And that training has helped Hope and Zach reach the highest level. The state track and field meet. The UIL began offering wheelchair competitions at the state meet in 2013. There are three events to compete in: shotput, 100 meter race and 400 meter race. Zach and Hope both qualified in all three and place top four in all three events.
Zach Carter results:
Shotput: 4th (17’8.75″)
100M: 4th (0:18.47)
400M: 4th (1:15)
Hope Santiago results:
Shotput: 4th (16’4.25″)
100M: 3rd (0:18.83)
Both Zach and Hope plan to continue their athletic careers collegiately.
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