Jordan Caperon makes state track debut

Sophomore Jordan Caperon made his track debut at the Eastern Iowa Track and Field Festival, and will be the first wheelchair racer from West to compete at state since 1995.

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Owen Aanestad

Jordan Caperon ’23 points to the scoreboard after finishing the 100 meter race on April 15 at the Forwald Coleman Relays.

For the first time in 26 years, the West High Boys Track and Field team will send a wheelchair athlete to state. The last state champions were John Jeter in 1993 who won the 100 meter, 200 meter and 800 meter and later his brother, Jim Jeter in 1995 who won the 100 meter and 800 meter. 

West Side Story Athlete of the week Jordan Caperon ’23 began his track career at the Eastern Iowa Track and Field Festival on April 12. With it being his first race ever, Caperon experienced some nerves at the beginning. “I was feeling kind of nervous not gonna lie because it was my first race of my career but at the same time I felt happy and excited to compete.” 

I was feeling kind of nervous not gonna lie because it was my first race of my career but at the same time I felt happy and excited to compete.”

— Jordan Caperon '23

Caperon originally started track to build strength and endurance, but now will be able to compete at the state meet in Des Moines in the 100 meter and the 200 meter race. 

The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) as well as the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) both offer wheelchair races in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, 800 meter and also the shot put. There are many rules to be followed for these athletes, including the fact that only athletes who need wheelchairs for mobility or need to use a wheelchair to race are allowed to compete. So, athletes who are experiencing temporary injuries preventing them from competing on foot are not allowed to race in this type of event. 

For the actual race, only manual wheelchairs are permitted. These can be standard wheelchairs or racing wheelchairs. All athletes must wear protective gear, like helmets and gloves. For the field event, IHSAA uses a 4-kilogram shot put and the IGHSAU a 3-kilogram shot put. 

In races on foot, runners are disqualified if they step into a different runner’s lane. There is an exception to this rule with distance races, where they are given a marking on the track that signifies where they can merge into one or two lanes. For wheelchair racing, the front wheel of the wheelchair has to remain in the racer’s designated lane at all times, especially turns, in order to avoid collisions and keep the race fair. 

Iowa was the first state to offer wheelchair racing in both high school track and field and cross country. Jordan Caperon will make history as West High’s third wheelchair athlete to compete at the state meet, and be the first one to do it in over two decades.