Kulpa competes at Junior Olympics

"Oak Harbor hurdler competes this weekend at the Junior Olympics National Meet in Buffalo, N.Y.."

“A 16-year-old Oak Harbor hurdler is leaping across the country to compete in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles and the 110-meter high hurdles this weekend at the Junior Olympics National Meet in Buffalo, N.Y.Stefan Kulpa qualified for the meet by winning the 400-meter event and placing second in the 110-meter event at a USA Track and Field regional tournament July 15-16 in Springfield, Ore. He beat racers from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho.“I had good hopes because I had raced most of the competitors in past meets,” Kulpa said. “I had a good day of racing.” High school hurdlers run a 300-meter race instead of the standard 400-meter. Three weeks earlier, Kulpa placed third in his first-ever 400-meter hurdle race. “It changed a lot,” he said. “I was stepping for the 300, and it didn’t really work out.” Kulpa trained every day between the two meets to adjust for the change in distance. He won his second 400-meter hurdle race.“From day one he’s been self-motivated,” said Oak Harbor High School assistant track coach Gina Bull. “He’s very focused on a goal, and for a young member of the team, he’s been a good role model.” Kulpa started running in eighth grade after signing a waiver allowing him to take track instead of the required physical education classes.“I had to do it because I didn’t want to do P.E.,” he said.Kulpa tried all of the events and found out he excelled in the hurdles. Of course, being 6-feet, 2-inches tall doesn’t hurt.“It’s a lot easier because of my height,” Stefan said.“It turned out he had a lot of natural ability, and now he lives for it,” said Jeryl Kulpa, Stefan’s mom. Stefan won eight races last spring and broke the Oak Harbor High School 300-meter hurdle record by a tenth of a second with a 40.7. He made it to districts in the 300-meter hurdles and as an alternate in the 4 by 400-meter relay.Jeryl hopes Stefan can use his leaping abilities to get a college scholarship.“It would be a dream if it happens,” she said.”