Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

STAYING ON TRACK.(Final)

Byline: Ken Sickenger Journal Staff Writer

Blind since age 3, Sandia freshman a spirited competitor on the field

Tara Matzick doesn't mind admitting she needs guidance competing in track and field. The Sandia High freshman recently completed her first season in the sport, throwing the javelin at the District 2-5A meet at Milne Stadium.

Matzick didn't threaten to qualify for last weekend's state competition, her throws dropping far short of her competitors'. But lining up against the district's best was a landmark occasion for the petite, 4-foot, 10-inch ball of fire.

Not only had Matzick never competed in a track meet before 2003, she had never seen one. Still hasn't.

Tara Matzick has been blind since the age of 3. Her left eye is prosthetic, while her right can detect only the most intense differences between light and darkness.

"I can't do other sports," Matzick says, "but track's not all about running. I wanted to try it, and it's fun. This is something I'm doing for me."

A short section of rope allows Matzick's teammates to lead her through laps at track practice. But that doesn't make this 15-year-old a follower.

Track and field is merely the latest endeavor for Matzick, who sings in mixed choir, earned six A's and one B on her most recent report card and was elected to serve as secretary and treasurer for Sandia's sophomore class next fall.

Remarkable accomplishments for someone not initially expected to reach her first birthday.

"Tara was baptized three hours after she was born, as a precaution," says her mother, Michelle Sena, recalling that her daughter was delivered 10 weeks premature, weighing just 1 pound, 6 ounces. …

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