This weekend, Marquis Shorten will aim for state championship qualification in the 100 and 200 meter distances at the UIL Region 1-6A Championships.
The Arlington Martin High School senior has never been to the Texas State Championships.
But this year, those hopes can be realized. He has a legitimate chance to earn a berth to the Texas UIL Class 6A Track and Field State Championships in Austin, Texas.
To guarantee that, he'll have to produce a top-two finish to qualify.
Only one barrier stands in the way.
Despite how small one more meet may seem before reaching his ultimate goal, for Shorten, it will be a long week.
Last year, after a successful Area Championships, Shorten felt pain his back. Two days before the Regional Championships, he was paralyzed.
There would be no regional racing and no state meet for him. Instead, he faced a much more daunting adversary than any of his scheduled competition on the track.
Out of nowhere came the pain, then the inability to walk.
There was really nothing to pinpoint what exactly had happened and even doctors were unaware of the cause. There was no prognosis.
Shorten was without mobility for two weeks. He had surgery and it would be another three months before he could get out of bed on his own and wouldn't require assistance to move around.
"I should have gone to state last year," Shorten said.
He believed that he was fast enough and that he had done what it took for him to reach his goal of running at the state meet. He had just run 10.60 at the Area Championships and was confident on making it to Austin prior to his paralysis.
After recovery and rehab, Shorten was eventually able to walk again and regain his faculties to be able to run again.
Now, the sprinter is picking back where he left off after last year's Area Championships. This time, he is hoping for a better week than he had last year.
Just even getting to compete at Regionals will be a big improvement from last season.
The improvement has already begun. At the start of the season, Shorten's confidence was low, until January when he went to the Texas Tech Under Armour High School Classic in Lubbock, Texas and ran 6.9 in the 60m. On March 4th, he ran a wind legal 10.60 to match his personal best performance prior to paralysis. Last week, he won the UIL 6A Area 07-08 Championship Meet in the 100m and 200m with times of 10.47 and 21.43.
Shorten is not only back on track after paralysis and back surgery a year ago with the ability to reach his goal of qualifying for the State track meet, but he has solidified his future. At signing day, on November 9, 2022, he committed to Texas Christian University (TCU) to compete in track and field beginning next year. "My top end speed is usually the best part of my race, so it's really just the ending; staying relaxed, staying tall, and leaning through the finish line," Shorten added.
"I love track," he said. "Just coming out here trying to win and do the very best I can. Really, it's just me against myself." He said, "If others find themselves facing something, I'd say believe in God and keep praying. Keep working through it because as long as you work, you should get through it."
This will be a long week for Shorten. In a few days, it'll be the one year anniversary where he experienced paralysis and was unable to attempt his lifelong goal of running at the Texas state track meet. One thing we know for sure is that regardless of the outcome, he has persevered and won in life.