Wheelchair athletes to compete in KSHSAA State Track Meet for first time

Published: May. 26, 2021 at 9:22 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Wheelchair athletes will be recognized by KSHSAA for the first time at a state track and field meet this year; having separate 100 meter and 400 meter races for para-athletes.

This week’s rising stars are those wheelchair-bound athletes making history this weekend.

“It’s all a pretty close community, we all know each other,” said Wichita Heights wheelchair track athlete Grant Pierce. “We’ve all known each other for quite a while now, it’s all pretty tight since there’s so few of us.”

‘All of them are, all that I know of are in Wichita Adaptive Sports, so we know each other,” said Bishop Carroll freshman Micah Campbell.

They may not be new to each other but competing for a KSHSAA state championship will be. Grant Pierce and Bishop Carroll’s Micah Campbell are two of six wheelchair bound athletes participating in the first ever KSHSAA wheelchair racing events.

“I think Micah and this group will be trailblazers that show people that this is something that can be done,” said Carroll’s head T&F coach Cory Swords.

This will be Swords’ first year ever coaching a wheelchair athlete, just like Givi Foster and Brandon McMillen at Wichita Heights.

“He pretty much taught me the wheelchair side of it, I just taught him the workout side of it,” said Heights’ distance coach McMillen. “They do pretty much the same workout, maybe just higher volume, more reps or longer distance.”

“When I go to the park, it’s usually distance, I think the most I’ve done there is 7 miles. The workout on the track, I work on starting so I get up to speed faster,” said Campbell.

“It was really difficult learning everything by myself,” said Pierce. “It took probably even 2 years to really understand how my wheelchair worked and understand how to use it properly.”

Peirce started wheelchair track in seventh grade after learning of a rare vascular defect. Campbell was born with spina bifida and has been racing for the last five years.

Campbell said, “It helps me to be able to relate to other people. Like I’m able to talk about sports.”

“We were at one track meet and somebody yelled, ‘Well he’s in a wheelchair.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, do you understand that what everyone else is doing with their legs, he’s doing with his arms,” said Heights’ head T&F coach Givi Foster. “Most times, your upper body is not as strong as your lower body.”

These coaches hope the rest of the state will see these para-athletes compete and encourage kids in their communities to do the same.

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