The Augusta Bulldogs wheelchair basketball team opened its season Aug. 30 without one of its more active players.
Scott Winkler has a reputation for hustling around the court with little regard, or patience, for those who dare get in the way. But that energy will be missing for a while.
On Sept. 2, Winkler flew into Beijing, where he'll compete in the shot put in the Paralympic Games. The track and field portion begins Monday.
There's no doubt Winkler is ready. And the buildup has been huge.
The Grovetown resident set the American record for his classification with a throw of 10.97 meters at the national trials in June. Then, he went to the White House to meet President Bush on July 21.
He has had his sights set on Beijing since he broke the world record at the 2007 U.S. Paralympic Track and Field National Championships.
Winkler provided some of his own inspiration by getting a new tattoo -- Olympic rings and "USA" on his right biceps.
"It brings such a positive light," said Winkler's friend, Jeff Snover, chairman of Champions Made From Adversity. "It shows that there is more out there."
Winkler has been involved with Snover and local wheelchair athletes since moving to Augusta in 2003 for therapy after being paralyzed from the waist down in an accident as a soldier in Iraq.
Other than throwing the shot put, Winkler's primary interest has been the Bulldogs.
His teammates threw him a going-away party in August before he left.
There were handshakes, hugs and an attempt at tears, but Winkler kept the mood light with his trademark sense of humor.
"I'm not only representing the U.S.," Winkler said. "I'm repping the Bulldogs."
Like Olympian Reese Hoffa, a Lakeside High and University of Georgia alum, Winkler is a likable guy who will make a great ambassador for the area. Winkler, who has watched Hoffa's throws on YouTube, said the two men have similar throwing styles from the waist up.
Winkler will be aiming for a better showing than Hoffa's seventh-place finish.
"It's a great honor," he said.
Greenbrier boys place third
Greenbrier's cross country teams ran in the Bob Blastow Early Bird Invitational on Aug. 30.
The Wolfpack boys finished third. Senior Taylor Snyder broke a school record with a time of 15:52.70 and finished second. Erin Payne broke the school's girls freshman record, and Will Rabb broke the boys freshman record.
Snyder's time was the second-fastest in the state thus far this season, behind Early Bird Winner Nathan Vassey, who ran it in 15:40.40.
On Tuesday, Lakeside softball at Harlem, Evans plays host to Glenn Hills and Greenbrier travels to play at Redan. All games start at 5 p.m. Augusta Prep soccer at Mount Warren at 4 p.m.
The Cavaliers volleyball team welcomes South Aiken on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Another big evening of softball Thursday , as Evans plays at Butler, Harlem plays at Richmond Academy, Greenbrier plays host to M.L. King and Lakeside welcomes Hephzibah. All games start at 5 p.m. Lakeside volleyball plays host to Glenn Hills and Hephzibah starting at 5 p.m.
Football Friday includes Greenbrier at Lakeside, Harlem at Glenn Hills and Augusta Christian playing host to Hilton Head Prep.
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