Westerville Central High School freshman Leah Schulze was part of a special moment in the state track and field meet June 6 at Ohio State.

Westerville Central High School freshman Leah Schulze was part of a special moment in the state track and field meet June 6 at Ohio State.

Schulze is the first wheelchair athlete to compete for the school district, and she capped her season by participating in the 100- and 400-meter races at state.

After a disappointing finish in the 400, she bounced back to place fourth in the 100 in a personal-best 24.99 seconds to earn the second of her two medals on the day.

"This was a lot of fun," Schulze said. "I was against other people. At my school I'm the only one, so it's nice to be with other wheelers here. I was nervous a little bit at first."

Schulze was seventh in the 400 (2:32.19), as she pointed to mechanical issues with her wheelchair as a reason for the finish.

Schulze earned the state berths through qualifying times during the regular season, as wheelchair competition is not held during the district and regional meets.

Schulze was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which there is an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord.

She was introduced to the sport in middle school and was quickly embraced by her teammates at Central, girls coach Ryan Borland said.

"It was quite an experience. We've learned a lot and I think she had a great experience, which is the best part about it," Borland said. "I'm excited we have her for three more years to see if we can get her even faster."

Meghan Maurer, a 2011 Westerville North graduate who competed in track and field, assisted in coaching Schulze this season. Maurer is a substitute teacher aide for students with disabilities in the school district.

"I'm very proud," Maurer said. "This was a learning experience for her."