Written by SportsDayDFW.com
New Braunfels Canyon's Duncan sweeps gold in debut of three wheelchair division events
AUSTIN — The dimple on Abby Dunkin’s right cheek never left her face Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
That’s because Dunkin, a senior at New Braunfels Canyon, was all smiles after sweeping gold medals in the shot put, 100 meters and 400 meters in the debut of the wheelchair division at the UIL state track meet.
“I’m excited, I’m nervous, I am just overwhelmed,” Dunkin said. “Wheeling down there and seeing everyone cheering, the cameras and the media. Wow. It’s an eye-opener.”
Dunkin has a rare nervous disorder that leaves her in almost constant pain. She has been in a wheelchair for 15 months.
She was previously a member of the Canyon varsity basketball team with her sights set on playing in college.
“A year ago I was in deep depression,” she said. “Not where I needed to be. But God has opened so many doors, and I’ve realized there’s more out there for me.”
Dunkin took up wheelchair basketball and plays for the San Antonio Spurs wheelchair team — on which she is the only girl, she added.
Dunkin said she plans to play next year at UT-Arlington, which has a prominent wheelchair basketball program.
Rowlett senior Brandi Smith, the only Dallas-area qualifier in the wheelchair division, won bronze in the four-man shot put field. She threw 8 feet, 10 inches on her first throw and improved on each of her next five to finish with a 9-51/2.
Smith took fourth place in both of the races, shaving more than 30 seconds off her qualifying time in the 400.
Smith said she has applied to UT-Arlington, where she hopes to continue competing.
“I feel real proud of myself just to come out here and have the opportunity to compete and place,” Smith said.
On the boys side, Rockdale’s Dustin Strelsky won the 100 and 400, and Cleburne’s Keyber Majano took gold in shot put.
The biggest cheer of the night came for San Antonio Reagan’s Wyatt Stuckness, who was wheeling with only one arm. He was the last to finish both races, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he wheeled across the finish line.
Twelve boys and girls made up the inaugural field of the wheelchair division.
Coaches, parents and athletes got their first exposure to the sport Saturday, which should help boost participation a year from now, UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt said.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to see kids who have never had an opportunity get the chance to showcase their abilities,” Breithaupt said. “It’s a proud moment for us. We think it’s going to explode.”