Local athletes do well at Special Olympics

Local athletes do well at Special Olympics

Image Credit: Submitted

It has been almost three years since Special Olympics Ohio held Summer Games. While some local programs have continued offering sports through this time, the culminating event athletes from all over the state look forward to had been put on hold due to COVID regulations and recommendations.

These factors made the Rockets’ return to the Ohio State University for the 2022 Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games all the more meaningful.

The Rockets were represented in four events at this year’s Summer Games: bocce, bowling, track and field, and volleyball. Athletes began training in late March and early April.

The state office grants quotas to each local program registered for the event, and the Rockets were granted spots for 27 athletes. Sixteen volunteers/chaperones also accompanied the athletes. The Rockets came home with several pieces of hardware.

In bocce the doubles team of Robert Easlick and Rodney Fuller earned gold medals. Eric Lingo and Aaron Scott came away with silver medals. Diana DeMonte and Rebekah Rothel captured bronze medals. The bocce team was coached by David DeMonte and Stephen Meredith.

In bowling Cayden Ciekanski, Donovan Nolan and Kershel Zehnder earned silver medals. Kaylee Arthurs and Chelsea Lefler both won bronze medals. The bowling team was coached by Kat Arthurs, Melanie Ciekanski, Shawn Ciekanski and David Urdiales. The team also was guided by athlete-leader Alex Adkins.

In track and field, Jehred Bennett won gold in the 100-meter dash, bronze in the 200-meter dash and fourth place in the 4-by-100 relay.

Jason Fickes won gold in the 200-meter dash, fourth in the 4-by-100 relay and sixth in the 100-meter dash.

Steven Hazelip won gold in the running long jump and fourth place in the mini javelin throw and the 4-by-100 relay.

Shane Johnson won gold in the 100-meter dash, fourth in the 4-by-100 relay and fifth in the mini javelin throw.

Elizabeth Lippencott earned fourth in the 100-meter dash and 4-by-100 relay and fifth in the softball throw.

Samantha Mastroine won gold in the 200-meter dash, silver in the 400-meter dash and fourth in the 4-by-100 relay.

Aidan McClain won gold in the shot put, silver in the mini javelin throw and fourth in the 4-by-100 relay.

Logan Wise won bronze honors in the pentathlon and fourth in the 4-by-100 relay.

The track team was coached by Christy Bennett, Angelica Mendoza, Zach Niven, Mike Travis, Brent Marshall, and Kellie and Chris Rufener.

In volleyball the Rockets won fourth place. The team consisted of Lucy Cooper, Conner DiGenova, Joey Fulton, Craig Gordon, Allison Halsey, Brandon Miller and Rachael Russell. The team was coached by Janel Travis and Sarah McVey.

Over the course of the weekend, the Rockets participated in the Opening Ceremonies Parade of Athletes, several social events, Healthy Athletes stations, activities planned by organizations such as The Moose Association and team meals.

Four of the Rockets were gifted with new pairs of professionally fitted tennis shoes by JD Finish Line. Adkins was selected to represent the Rockets in delivering a gift for longtime state office employee Jeff Vermillion, who recently retired after 34 years of service.

Coach Christy Bennett said this was one of the best Summer Games she has been involved in.

Athlete Cayden Ciekanski said he was proud of himself for earning the silver in bowling.

Local coordinator Richelle Lefler said the weekend would be impossible without the combined efforts of everyone involved. “Teamwork makes the dream work for sure.”

Sponsors for the Rockets’ trip to Summer Games include Advocates for Success, The Ruth Carlson-Starlight Foundation and the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The Rockets also held fundraisers to help pay for the costs.

The Rockets started softball practices on June 30. Email Lefler at tuscarawascountyspecialolympic@gmail.com.