Hunter Woodhall isn’t your everyday average teenager. For starters, the sophomore at Syracuse High in Utah doesn’t walk like most people, requiring two artificial appendages to account for a double amputation required when he was still less than a year old.
As Woodhall puts it in his own Twitter bio, “They told me i would never walk, so i learned to run instead.”
Woodhall has turned his apparent disability into a strength, emerging as a team leader and one of the strongest sprinters for his school’s track squad. As a freshman he qualified for the Utah Class 5A state meet in the 400 meter distance and the 1600-meter relay. As a sophomore, he’s on pace to do even better. He’s already qualified for a second trip to the state meet, and recently won the 400 meters at the Davis High Track Invitational.
“I had already qualified (for state) but this is just kind of another boost to show my hard work is starting to pay off a lot more,” Woodhall told the Ogden Standard Examiner. “It’s just a great experience.”
That Woodhall is finding success comes as little surprise to his family and teammates, though it has brought Pistorious-like criticism from some of the Utah track cognoscenti, arguing that his prosthetic blades give him an unfair advantage.
Luckily, those viewpoints have largely been squashed in serious discussions about Woodhall’s significant talent and work ethic, attributes that have been supported by his high school coach, Roger Buhrley, and the U.S. Paralympic team, on which he earned a spot for the 2015 competitive season as well as a second-place finish in the 2014 national championships.
With a time of 49.30 at the Davis meet, it’s clear that Woodhall is here to stay, and that his commitment to track, which began when he first tried prosthetic cheetah blades in the sixth grade, is as solid as his determination. Yes, he still loves wrestling, basketball and other sports — heck, he even played as a running back during the Syracuse intra-squad football scrimmage — but track is his true passion, one which so many doctors would have doubted could ever have been possible.