Veterans Memorial High School senior Zoe Alaniz will be joining fellow Patriot G.J. Reyna, Sharyland Pioneer’s Nora Monie and Juarez-Lincoln’s Yariel Matute in Austin this week as the only Big 7 schools’ athletes to qualify for the University Interscholastic League’s (UIL’s) Track and Field State Meet. Unlike the other three state qualifiers however Alaniz, who was born with spina bifida, will be competing in the recently added wheel chair division of the shot put throw.
This year’s state meet marks only the second year that the UIL has included a wheel chair division at its state meet. Other than the shot put the only other events open to Paralympic athletes are the 100 meter and 400 meter dashes.
When asked what he is looking forward to the most about competing at state Alaniz said, “I’m just looking forward to the experience. I’m one of the first kids ever to do this so it’s going to be a great experience. I’m going to enjoy having all of those people watch me do what I do.”
Alaniz qualified for the state meet by in late March by throwing the shot put nearly twice as far as he had to. The minimum throw required to qualify was 7 feet but Alaniz’s top throw, and his PR (personal record) at that time, was 13 feet, 10 inches.
Alaniz has since improved his PR to 14 feet, 5 inches. To the best of his knowledge only two of the other wheel chair athletes that will be competing at state have had longer throws.
“Go out and try it,” said Alaniz to any other kids that may qualify for the wheel chair events. “It’s something different and something new. It gives everybody that doesn’t have the opportunity to compete in normal sports a chance to compete. It’s a great opportunity.”
The UIL Track and Field State Meet is being held at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas at Austin. Alaniz is scheduled to compete at 1 p.m. today.