Adaptive athlete wins three state titles

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Navarre’s Ethan Fulk made school history over the weekend at the 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.

By Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn | hosbourne@nwfdailynews.com

NAVARRE — Navarre High’s Ethan Fulk made school history over the weekend at the 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.

The 15-year-old freshman’s time of 5 minutes, 9.95 seconds in the Class 3A adaptive 800-meter race won gold Friday. A day after delivering the school’s first state title in a boys’ sport, Fulk tacked on gold medals in the adaptive shot put (12 feet, 7.75 inches) and 200-meter dash (1:13.64) . The three trips to the top of the podium led to Navarre claiming the adaptive team state championship. Fulk competed against three other competitors in his events.

“I’m very proud that I won it for the boys,” said Fulk, who was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that prevents the spine from properly forming. “I’m also happy that I made it to state. I’ve been waiting for this the whole year.”

Joe Surratt, Navarre’s track and field coach, said Fulk is setting a precedent for not only adaptive sports, but the boys’ division as a whole.

“We have never had a championship with the boys,” Surratt said. “We have that now. Ethan was ecstatic after the win. I’m super proud of him.”

Fulk, who joined the sport as an adaptive athlete last August, is also paving the way for other adaptive athletes in the Panhandle, Surratt said. Navarre is currently the only high school in the surrounding areas with an adaptive athletic program.

“Ethan is a very competitive young man,” Surratt said. “I told him he is spearheading this thing. He’s doing it in hopes that other people will come out and join him and participate. He wants to have competition.”

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In April, Surratt surprised Fulk with a race chair and shot put chair to help him reach his dream of a state championship. His dream now a reality, Fulk made sure to thank his coach, family and teammates for the support.

“I told them that I was thankful for what the team has done this year, for having my back and being there when I needed help,” he said. “I was excited, but kind of nervous because I didn’t know how well I was going to do, how it was going to go, or what was going to happen. It felt awesome to win the state championship.”

The rising sophomore said he is now looking forward to competing again next season and hopes to have even more competition.

“I was able to show kids that there is something you can do for adaptive,” Fulk said. “I look forward to seeing more kids out there next year.”

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