Campbellsport sprinter could miss championships due to WIAA rule

CAMPBELLSPORT, Wis. - A Campbellsport High School sprinter may be one of the fastest 100-meter runners in state history, but he'll likely be watching the upcoming state championships from the stands.

While running the curve, time and technique matter to Joshua Onwunili.

"Every tenth of a second matters. Every little, little detail matters," he said. "In sprinting, the slightest error can cause your whole race to be gone."

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The Campbellsport High School senior has put in years of training, but his transfer has created a hurdle he likely won't clear.

"They don’t allow transfer students to compete at the varsity level their first year. It doesn’t matter where you come from," said Onwunili.

<div>Joshua Onwunili</div>
Joshua Onwunili

Onwunili started high school at Campbellsport before moving to Ghana, where his parents are doing missionary work, for two years.

"My mom is coming back on Wednesday," he said. "They said when she comes back, as long as we submit our documents, we should be good to go. We submitted the documents. They said not good enough."

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association said it’s "unable to comment on ongoing eligibility cases specific to student-athletes' circumstances." However, a spokesperson did point FOX6 to the eligibility regulations regarding transfers and residency, where this case falls.

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"Obviously, there’s a rule in place to prevent the stacking of teams, which I understand," said Derek Toshner, Onwunili's coach. "We just feel that’s not the case here."

"It should be taken case by case. It’s not a black-and-white type of situation. You’re ruining kids' futures, basically," Onwunili said.

Toshner wishes there was a better appeal process: "What are we really preventing here, other than maybe just the pride of people who set the rules?"

Onwunili said he recently competed in a non-WIAA race.

<div>Joshua Onwunili</div>
Joshua Onwunili

"I had a 10.30," he said. "That actually breaks the WIAA’s 100-meter record from 1998. It was 10.33, so not according to the WIAA, but according to me, I’m faster than the WIAA’s records."

In a sport where time matters, Onwunili knows his season is running out.

"Even if they don’t change it by the time I’m out, I hope they change it for other kids," he said.

The Campbellsport School District athletic director said it's unfortunate the WIAA denied Onwunili participation. The teen hopes to compete in college and the 2028 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Los Angeles, in the future.