Wichita Heights wheelchair athlete shines at KU Relays, sets sights on records

Wichita Heights High School track standout Grant Pierce is one of the country's best high school wheelchair athletes.
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 5:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita Heights High School senior Grant Pierce made history over the weekend, becoming the first wheelchair athlete to compete against runners at the Kansas Relays on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence.

The side of Pierce’s racing wheel reads, “Am I equal?”

“Everyone has their opinion on what you can do and I live to break that opinion,” he said.

Pierce made his statement over the weekend by winning the 3200-meter race at the Kansas Relays.

“The last lap, I knew Grant still had something in him. I could just tell by his form. He still looked good and I knew he was ready to give it all and send it,” said Pierce’s coach, Brandon McMillen.

Pierce was born with a vascular disease in his leg. He competed in sports until he was seven, but then broke his femur, an injury that limited his mobility permanently, necessitating the use of a wheelchair throughout his days.

When Pierce wants to practice, it’s a whole sport in itself. He stays in his day chair, grabs his racing chair and pushes it to the Heights High School track by himself.

This season, Pierce has been working out 10 times per week. On his mind are the state records for the 1600 and 3200.

“Nobody can tell him ‘no.’ If there’s something he wants he will go get it,” McMillen said.

When he’s not racing, Pierce’s focus is on inspiring athletes like him.

“It there’s anything you can learn from me, it’s that you can do whatever an able-bodied person can do. Whether it be track and field, getting a girlfriend, getting a job, no matter what it is. Don’t limit yourself to what other people put you in,” he said.