The Bentley School had a strong showing at the track and field provincials this month, finishing fourth out of 60 1A schools.
For Grade 11 student Landon Coulter, it was an especially successful track meet. Coulter competed in the open wheelchair division, winning gold in shot put, and bronze in both the 100-m and 200-m dash.
It was only in December that the 17 year old was involved in a serious vehicle crash. He’s recovering, but today only has partial mobility in his legs.
Stephen Lush is the school’s vice-principal and the team’s coach. He said that while Coulter had prior experience with throwing, he didn’t get any practice before taking a seat in the ASAA-provided racing chair.
“He’s thrown shot put in gym class for many years. So he knew that skill well,” Lush said. “There wasn’t a lot of training. It was, you’re going to do these events, let’s see how it goes, good luck. Landon stepped up, showed up. I thought he did very well and I was quite proud of him.”
That was the first athletic endeavor for Coulter, a stoic kid who grew up on the farm with an interest in horses, cattle and trucks.
“Pretty tight in (the chair) but I always liked things with wheels, so why not try it,” he said.
He mostly shrugs at the hand life dealt him.
“I see people in wheelchairs and can’t even move their legs. If I get stuck in a hole with my wheelchair, I just stand up, pick it up and move it over,” he said.
Lush commended the student for the hard work in physiotherapy it took to regain that mobility.
“Although he had a bad accident, it doesn’t mean life doesn't just keep moving on,” he said.
Out of five athletes Bentley sent to provincials, two have intellectual disabilities. Lush said inclusivity is a big priority at the school, where students take the lead when it comes to practice.
“Our able-bodied athletes can show somebody who doesn’t have the same skill, exactly what they do. Kind of (like) a peer-mentoring session where we have athletes strong in an event, work with the kids in those events,” he said.
Lexi Moore was in the open intellectual category, winning gold in shot put.
Elias Steinbrenner also competed in the open intellectual division, finishing eighth in shot put.
Zoe Lorenz won bronze with Team Central in the four-by-100-metre intermediate relay.
Stephanie Pacholko finished fifth in junior women's shot put.