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LaGrange’s Wegienka playing for state title

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It wasn’t the way Logan Wegienka wanted to attend the state-championship game.

A pair of wheelchair basketball teams met for the state title in Macon last March, and to his chagrin, Wegienka was a spectator, and not a participant.

Wegienka’s team, the West Georgia Wolverines, had hoped to make it to the championship game, but they came up short.

Wegienka and his friend Jesse Cochran were in the stands that day, and while they enjoyed the competition, it was a disappointment not being able to play.

“We weren’t able to make it to the championship last year, and me and my buddy Jesse went to watch,” said Wegienka, a senior at LaGrange High. “Just kind of sitting there and watching it, the realization hit that I’m almost done (with high school). It was definitely a feeling that I didn’t want to have again. I wanted to be out there on the floor, and not in the stands. That’s given both of us the motivation to do the best we can this year.”

Fortunately for Wegienka and Cochran, they will be on the court, and not in the stands, for this year’s state-championship game.

The two friends are members of the Henry County Hurricanes, and they’ll play the Houston County Sharks for the Georgia High School Association wheelchair championship at 3 p.m. in Macon.

It’ll be a big-time challenge for Henry County against a Houston County team that has won seven consecutive state titles.

“The Houston County Sharks, they’re an amazing team,” Wegienka said. “Their coach actually used to be a referee in the organization, and I’ve known her for years. She’s an amazing coach, and honestly just to be able to play that team that’s been on top for so long is a pleasure.”

The good news for the Hurricanes is that they know they have the ability to beat the Sharks, since they’ve already done it once.

Shortly after Wegienka joined the Hurricanes, they opened their season against the powerful Sharks and handed them a rare loss.

“We had one practice with them before our first game, and we were playing the best team in the league, that hasn’t been beaten in basketball in six years,” Wegienka said. “We somehow got the chemistry together and beat that team in the first game. When we beat them the first time, it was like holy cow, this really just happened.”

Wegienka ended up with the Henry County team because the Wolverines didn’t field a basketball team this season.

When he found out he wouldn’t be able to play with the Wolverines, Wegienka began searching for a new team, and fortunately he landed with the Hurricanes.

Making the situation even more appealing, Wegienka was able to join a new team with his good friend and teammate, Jesse Cochran.

“When they told us that we were both going to be able to play, it was like awesome, we’re both going to be able to play our senior year,” Wegienka said. “And being able to go to the state championship, that’s just icing on top of the cake at this point.”

Wegienka has been wheelchair-bound for more than a decade after he was involved in a car accident.

Soon after Wegienka became involved in adapted sports, and over the years he has played basketball, football, and handball.

“It’s meant a lot to me,” Wegienka said of the opportunity to play competitive sports. “I told my mom I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t been playing sports. It’s made it to where I don’t just sit around thinking about it. It’s made it to where I’m active.”

For years Wegienka was a member of the West Georgia Wolverines organization, but that’s coming to a close.

Wegienka, knowing how much sports has done for him, felt the calling to make sure those who were with the Wolverines would have a chance to continue to play.

“Here recently we’ve started to develop a Troup County adapted sports team that’s getting started down here,” Wegienka said. “I’m pretty excited about that.”

Wegienka talked to LaGrange athletics director Mike Pauley about making LaGrange High the home base for a new organization, and things are progressing nicely.

“I came in here and approached coach Pauley,” Wegienka said. “The (Wolverines) just disbanded, and I thought what can I do, who do I need to talk to about getting a team started down here so that these kids can still play. It’s taken off from there. Right now we’re trying to get a budget worked up about what all we need. It looks like it’s headed in the right direction.”

Another thing Wegienka is involved in is a charity wheelchair basketball game that has been held in the LaGrange High gym the past two years.

The game, which has pitted the Wolverines against members of the LaGrange High faculty, has raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

This year’s game will be held on March 26.

“That just started out as a fun activity and took off from there,” Wegienka said. “Abby Simons has stepped up to the plate. She’ll be taking over all of that after I leave, so it’ll continue to move forward after this year.”

For the moment, Wegienka’s focus is on helping his team win a state title, and game day is finally here.

“I’ve been biting at the bit all week for Friday to get here,” Wegienka said. “I’m ready.”