ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Nate Rainge is the most decorated track and field athlete in O’Fallon Township High School history. He is a six-time state champion, but for college he’s sticking with his first love – wheelchair basketball.
It’s a game he’s played since his father took him to a practice at 4-years-old. He was born with a spinal dysgenesis, resulting in paralysis from the waist down.
He has won the 100, 200, and 400 meter races in the wheelchair division the past two years. And could become a 9-time champion this May.
But track has really just been a training program for Rainge.
“I’m always there to get faster at basketball, because basketball is my main love,” Rainge says.
He recently accepted a scholarship to continue playing for another four years at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
“That’s what I wanted to do, I always dreamed to play wheelchair basketball at a college for a great team and have that awesome competitiveness to play against other great teams,” Rainge says.
But he doesn’t plan to dropping track in college. He says in the summers he can continue to train with the Disabled Athletes Sports Association in St. Charles. In hopes of making the 2020 U.S. Paralympic team.
“Last year, or last summer, I went to Nationals for Track and I got second in my age group, which was 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds. And I was 17 at the time,” Rainge says. “I was the youngest one out there and I got second in all my races.”
Rainge admits he still has a long way to go. So if he isn’t known as a world-class wheelchair athlete one day, he wants to make sure there is someone even more talented behind him.
“A lot of people don’t’ know about it. Like someone might love lacrosse, and there’s wheelchair lacrosse, like you can play that. There’s always something out there, but there are some people who may not see it.”