The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, the NCAA and Drake University have announced the field of competitors for the inaugural 100m national collegiate wheelchair championships.
The event is slated for April 29 as part of the 2023 Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, and is one of several initiatives of the USOPC/NCAA Para-College Inclusion Project, a unified effort to partner with the collegiate community, athletes, National Governing Bodies and the NCAA to advance Para and adaptive sport.
“We’re just scratching the surface of integrating adaptive sports into already-longstanding collegiate athletics events, and we’re excited to move the needle with track and field,” said Sarah Wilhelmi, USOPC senior director of collegiate partnerships. “We couldn’t be more proud to see this idea come to life at Drake later this month and it wouldn’t have happened without the great work of our Para-College Inclusion Project members, Drake and the NCAA.”
To qualify for the finals, wheelchair student-athletes from around the country had the opportunity to participate in an eastern regional and western regional held at the University of Illinois and University of Arizona, respectively. The top-three qualifiers from each region earned their spot to compete in the finals at the Drake Relays, alongside the athletes who posted the next two fastest times at the qualifiers.
The University of Michigan provided a grant to facilitate athlete participation in the championships, and eligible participants must be full-time students and have represented their institution in athletic competition during the 2022–2023 academic year.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of the first-ever wheelchair racing events at the Drake Relays,” said U.S. Paralympian Hannah Dederick. “This is a huge step on the path of creating equal opportunities for Para athletes in college sports.”
The women’s 100m field includes:
- Hannah Dederick (University of Illinois), 2020 U.S. Paralympian
- Jenna Fesemyer (University of Illinois), 2020 U.S. Paralympian
- Eva Houston (University of Illinois), 2020 U.S. Paralympian
- Jacie King (University of Arizona)
- Camryn Ledford (University of Arizona)
- Chelsea Stein (University of Arizona)
- Maria Velat (University of Michigan)
The men’s 100m field includes:
- Valera Allen (University of Arizona)
- Evan Correll (University of Illinois)
- Phillip Croft (University of Illinois)
- Aidan Gravelle (University of Arizona)
- Peyton Gunnarson (University of Arizona)
- Jason Robinson (University of Illinois)
- Dustin Stallberg (University of Arizona)
- Wyatt Willand (University of Arizona)
The women’s race will take place at 2:54 p.m. CT and the men’s race will follow at 2:59 p.m. CT. Following the race, the top-three competitors in each field will be recognized during a medal ceremony on the track.