Janesville Craig’s Radloff among the first wheelchair competitors at state
Devon Radloff was born with cerebral palsy.
The Janesville Craig sophomore has battled head on against its effects, which resulted from damage to the brain before or during birth.
Life is a constant battle, but he doesn’t let it consume him.
“I’ve never let the cerebral palsy get to me,” Radloff said. “I try to do as much as other people would try to do.”
That includes being a member of Craig High’s boys track and field team. Radloff will join his Cougar teammates in the WIAA Division 1 state meet, where he will compete Saturday afternoon in the 100-meter wheelchair race and the 1,600-meter wheelchair race.
Although all wheelchair events are non-scoring, medals will be awarded.
“It’s the biggest meet of the year for us, and for me, a chance to compete in front of a really big crowd,” Radloff said. “I can’t wait.”
Radloff, despite his aching feet telling him otherwise, insists on walking the halls at Craig during the day. The wheelchair allows him to compete on the track team, and also is a vehicle to get around the school at certain times.
The wheelchair he uses in track meets has two large wheels in the back, and a smaller wheel that jets out in front. No mechanical gears or levers are allowed during a race, which could be used to propel the wheelchair. Only hand operated, mechanical steering devices are allowed.
This is the first year that the WIAA has incorporated wheelchair events into track and field. Radloff approached Craig boys coach Jeff Deininger about the possibility of competing and the answer was an emphatic “yes.”
“My coaches have been great,” Radloff said. “None of this would’ve been possible without them, and all my teammates.
“A lot of my success this year is because when I come around the last turn, my teammates are all standing and cheering for me. That definitely pushes me to go faster.”
Radloff’s state-qualifying time in the 1,600 is 6:19.14, with a season-best time of 6:06. He hopes to break the 6-minute mark at state.
In the 100, Radloff’s seed time is 23.43 seconds.
“Devon is very competitive and fun to be around,” Deininger said. “He’s continually learning and trying to get better, and that’s what it’s all about.
“I’ve learned as much this year as a coach, as Devon has. There’s proximity, as far as where he needs to be on the track during his race, and a lot of other things that are a little different than what I’m used to coaching. It has been fun.”
Radloff hopes to continue the fun in La Crosse this weekend.