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Keller Takes Shot at State Medal
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2024-05-15

            After discovering he didn't have the proper wheelchair to compete on the track, Micah Keller decided to try a throwing event. The Red Hill resident recalled the shot his mother ordered for him four years earlier.

            Two months later, Keller is excelling in the shot put for Upper Perkiomen's

Micah Keller prepares to compete in the shot put against

Phoenixville.

track and field team. The junior has already qualified for the District One and PIAA Class 3A championship meets in the event.

            Despite being confined to a wheelchair due to spina bifida – a condition that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth – Keller has reached 17 feet in the event, far exceeding the state qualifying distance of 12 feet, 6 inches. He has emerged as a regular scorer for the Indians, who captured the Pioneer Athletic Conference's Liberty Division title with a 5-0 record.

            "I've never been around a more positive kid," said head coach Clayton Mowrer, who described Keller as the first wheelchair athlete he has coached in 14 seasons in the district. "He's a great addition to the team."

            According to the coach, Keller utilizes significant core strength to launch the shot. The athlete says he feels comfortable releasing it without any lower body assistance.

            "It's pretty crazy how well I'm doing," said Keller, whose goal is to earn a state medal. "I've been using my arms my entire life."

            Wheelchair athletes were permitted to compete for the first time last season after the PIAA passed a new adaptive athlete policy. Wheelchair athletes can compete in up to four events during any one meet: the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 400 meter dash, 800 meter dash, shot put and discus.

            If only one adaptive athlete in a meet hits the scoring standard, his or her team is awarded one point. If more than one competes, a first-place finish earns five points, while second and third place receive three and one point, respectively. Only athletes who reach the standard can score.

            Keller has scored in every meet for the Tribe. He has yet to face another athlete in his classification.

            "I would love to see him compete against someone else," Mowrer said.

            Keller – also a wheelchair basketball player who plays for Katie's Komets, a co-ed team for youth with lower limb impairments from Philadelphia and surrounding areas – went out for the track and field team to stay in shape. After determining his chair wasn't conducive to a track event, Keller remembered that he experimented with the shot his mother ordered over Zoom for him during the coronavirus pandemic for a few weeks.

            "Micah has been killing it ever since," his father, Justin, said.

            Keller nearly eclipsed the state qualifying distance on his first throw, according to Mowrer. In his first dual meet, against Pope John Paul II on March 27, he reached 13 feet, 7 inches.

            On April 10, he reached 15 feet, 1 ½ inches against Pottstown. Two weeks later, he added more than a foot (16 feet, 3 inches) in the meet against Phoenixville.

            Mowrer describes Keller as a "gym rat." The student works out in the high school weight room three or four days a week. Keller said football players in the room clap and cheer as he completes 15 to 20 consecutive pull-ups.

            "They definitely like it," Keller said.


 

 

 

 

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