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    Kuehl dedicates season to late grandfather

    Senior Adam Kuehl holds pictures of himself and his late grandfather at practice yesterday. Martin Kuehl died Feb. 10 and as Adam prepares for his NCAA Indoor Championships, he said Im doing it all for him.
    Senior Adam Kuehl holds pictures of himself and his late grandfather at practice yesterday. Martin Kuehl died Feb. 10 and as Adam prepares for his NCAA Indoor Championships, he said ‘I’m doing it all for him.’

    Adam Kuehl remembers fishing on a Wisconsin lake as an 11-year-old with his younger brother and grandfather, when suddenly a 3-foot snake appeared out of the mucky water.

    “”I was like, ‘Grandpa, Grandpa, there’s a snake!’ He threw his pole down, got up out of his chair, grabbed the biggest stick that he could see and just beat the hell out of the snake,”” said Kuehl, still in utter awe of his grandfather’s courageous feat.

    Twelve years later, Kuehl struts his 260-pound, 6-foot-2 frame into the ring. He holds the 16-pound shot in his right hand, nestled between his neck and his shoulder. He faces backward, crouches down and spins 540 degrees before propelling the iron ball into the air and watching it crash into the ground like a small meteor.

    This is more than a man trying to achieve his personal record.

    “”Every day I’m not only doing it for myself, but I’m doing it for him,”” said Kuehl, speaking of his late grandfather, Martin Kuehl. “”There is somebody else besides me entering the ring.””

    Kuehl’s grandfather succumbed to spinal cancer Feb. 10, the same day Kuehl threw his then-personal record of 18.64 meters at the New Mexico Invitational.

    He recalled calling his father just after he competed to report the good news.

    “”I just won,”” Kuehl said. “”It was a great feeling, I was really happy, then my dad said, ‘Son, your grandfather passed away this morning.’ There was an extended silence, it hit me real hard. It was a complete reverse of emotions.””

    Since Kuehl can remember, he looked up to his grandfather, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the battle for Omaha Beach on D-Day in World War II, among other battles in the war.

    Adam’s father, Doug Kuehl, remembered being hit with a barrage of questions as Adam learned about World War II in elementary school.

    “”He’d always ask, ‘What did Grandpa do?’ He heard the stories from me and from his grandpa,”” Doug said with a chuckle. “”I heard them 1,000 times, but they’re always worth a listen.””

    Kuehl’s grandfather did not travel much from his home in Tomah, Wisc., and he never got the chance to watch his grandson compete at the collegiate level. But he watched Adam throw his personal best in the discus in his senior year of high school.

    His grandfather followed Adam’s collegiate performances on the Internet every weekend, and Adam called him to detail every meet.

    Kuehl’s father also served in the U.S. Military for 27 years before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2005.

    Doug said he was encouraged to play many sports as a child, which he passed down to Adam. It was something his father never got the chance to do because of his busy life on the farm.

    Adam was born in Heidelburg, Germany, in 1984, toward the end of the Cold War.

    “”If the sirens went off and the Russians attacked, my mom had specific instructions to get across the border and fly us back to the U.S.,”” he said.

    He moved to the United States when he was 2 years old, where he lived a life akin to most military children, bouncing around between Georgia, Colorado, New Jersey and Kansas.

    Since his grandfather’s passing, Kuehl has broken his personal record in the shot put twice, his most recent being his 18.92-meter throw Feb. 17 at the Southwest Host Classic Invitational in Flagstaff.

    Kuehl credits his grandfather for giving him “”much more confidence and determination”” in his last year.

    “”He’s got a pretty strong character and a strong head on his shoulders,”” said his shot put teammate Shawn Best.

    Kuehl will compete in his first NCAA Indoor Championships March 9-10. He is anxious to begin competing in the discus in the outdoor season, which he said is his stronger event.

    He said he’s dedicating the rest of the season to his grandfather, who always motivated and inspired him with his courage and strength.

    “”He was the epitome of an American soldier, and that’s what drives me,”” Kuehl said. “”I just try to bring that warriorlike mentality into the ring.””

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