Campbellsport sprinter ineligible for state, lawmakers write to WIAA

CAMPBELLSPORT, Wis. - Three Wisconsin lawmakers sent a letter of "deep concern" to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board on Wednesday, urging it to reconsider its decision to bar a student-athlete from state competition due to "residency technicalities."

Joshua Onwunili may be one of the fastest 100-meter runners in state history, but a WIAA rule related to his transfer status could keep him from competing in the upcoming state championships.

"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.

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Onwunili started high school at Campbellsport before moving to Ghana, where his parents are doing missionary work, for two years. He is now back in Wisconsin but unable to compete.

"We submitted the documents. They said not good enough," he said.

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In their letter to the WIAA Board, State Reps. Ty Bodden, Rob Brooks and Duey Strobel said "the unique circumstances surrounding Josh's residency should not overshadow his incredible talent and dedication to the sport."

Derek Toshner, Onwunili's coach, told FOX6 the transfer rule is intended to prevent the "stacking of teams." The three lawmakers said, while the rule's intent is meant to maintain fairness, it "appears to be an obstacle to fairness" in this case.

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"The decision to exclude Josh from competition based on residency technicalities risks overlooking the fundamental spirit of high school sports to provide young athletes with the opportunity to showcase their abilities and character on a statewide stage," the letter said.

Onwunili hopes to compete in college and the 2028 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Los Angeles, in the future.