There wasn’t a triumphant photo finish in the Paralympic 100-meter dash at this year’s Colorado track and field championships, but that didn’t bother Niwot’s Michael ‘Misha’ Barrett.
“I felt great,” the sophomore said afterwards. He finished in first with a time of 14.11 seconds, more than half a second faster than his time in the Boulder County Championships on April 20. “My coach taught me a lot this season. Before the race, the coach told me to go out there and win, and I went out there and won, but the most important part was having a good time.”
Barrett was joined on the podium by teammate and friend Donovan “Donnie” Schwartz, who finished in fourth place with a time of 18.71.
Niwot assistant coach La’Mar West said that coaching the pair of Unified athletes this season brought an important new dimension to the often serious varsity practice sessions.
“It was fun,” he said. “As long as you channel Donnie’s inner Gaston, he just goes. So he had fun with it, and Misha had fun with it. We had a good dynamic, and the kids really supported them. They started slow and grew along with everybody else, and they both PR’d this season.”
The two also competed in the Paralympic shot put, which debuted at the state meet this year. Barrett was once again the top competitor, with a throw of 21 feet, 3 inches. Schwartz, however, took a less conventional strategy, according to West.
“Donnie tried to get closer every time he threw,” he said. “But it was great to see him having fun and being around other kids and to see the whole Niwot fan base over there supporting him. They ended their season the same way everybody else did.”