Adaptive Athletes Compete at Anchor Bay Track Meet


Photo provided by Marijane Nelson

An increase in numbers of wheelchair athletes has led to a proposal being made to the Michigan High School Athletic Association to make wheelchair events scoring events at MHSAA track meets.

The proposal was put together in 2021 and in 2022 two wheelchair athletes competed in the state finals for the first time in a non-scoring event.

The Houghton Portage Township Public School Athletic Department proposed the following standards for high school para-ambulatory and wheelchair divisions in track and field for all schools in Michigan, and Michigan’s WestPAC conference already used a version of these rules to successfully field an adaptive category during the 2021 track and field season.

This proposal has been assembled in collaboration with Adaptive Track & Field USA (ATFUSA) and current and past high-school para-athletes. ATFUSA has successfully worked with many states to establish these rules and accommodations and they generally meet international standards for Paralympic-class competition with some modifications to account for the limited pool of competitors in high school adaptive track and field.

Two athletes competed in the state finals in 2022 and eight will be competing  in 2023. Three of the four divisions and two in the Upper Peninsula will have two racers at the state finals. There are also three middle school wheelchair athletes competing this season. 

Jacob Nelson competing in the 100 at Pinckney in 2022. STN File Photo

This past Friday Jacob Nelson from Chelsea High School traveled to the Anchor Bay Invite in order to race against another wheelchair athlete, Luke Bowman from Anchor Bay. 

This is Luke's first year doing track after he was able to get a racing chair through a track clinic put on by the University of Michigan Adaptive Fitness. 

Both Jacob and Luke raced against each other in the 100 and 200. Luke took 1st place in both races and also PR'd in both! 

Jacob has been steadily dropping times in his previous meets and hopes to race in a qualifying meet in Ft Wayne in June and make it to Jr. National's in Alabama. They are both looking forward to finishing their seasons at the State meets. June 3.

The MHSAA is currently not considering the standards, but there are hopes that with the increase in numbers that it will be considered. 

Contact for more support and information on how to implement these rules.

The is also a petition to sign at Petition · I Am an Athlete, Too: Integrate disabled children into school sports ·

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