Special Olympics athletes compete in corn toss state tournament

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INDIANAPOLIS

Jackson County has four new gold medalists.

Two Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County duos returned from Sunday’s EKS Games with first-place finishes in the corn toss competition at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis.

Dale Hickman and Scott Thompson defeated Gibson County 21-12 in their opening match and later captured the Division 235 title with a 22-8 win against Vigo County in the championship. Hickman put two bags in the hole and landed the other two on the board to end the match.

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In Division 236, Bill Getz and Tim Ashburn teamed to defeat Clark-Floyd County 21-6 in their first match and later battled to a 22-14 win against Warrick County for the gold medal. The championship match was close early on until Getz tossed two in the hole for a 14-8 edge. Warrick County responded to tie it at 14 before Getz closed it out by putting three of four bags in the hole.

This was Jackson County’s first time competing in corn toss in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Games, which is named after the founder of Special Olympics.

The county sent six duos, including three unified pairs consisting of a Special Olympics athlete and a unified partner. Athlete duos threw from 21 feet (18 feet between the front of the boards), while unified teams threw from 30 feet (27 feet between the boards).

Athletes Cassie Brock and Shannon Blodgett rebounded nicely from their opening 21-14 loss to Kosciusko County by defeating Vigo County 21-15 to earn bronze medals in Division 210.

In unified doubles, Alysha Sandlin and her mother, Samantha Sandlin, had to forfeit their opening match and later suffered a tough 18-17 loss to finish in fourth place in Division 325. The latter match ended after the maximum 30 minutes of play. Otherwise, matches end when the first team reaches 21 points.

Also, Elijah Noble and his unified partner, Zach Spicer, met a pair from Montgomery-Parke Co. that were on their game and weren’t able to score. They later battled for nearly the entire 30 minutes of the second match until falling to Clark-Floyd County 22-13 to finish fourth in Division 343.

Finally, Leroy Deal and his unified partner, Jim Shepherd, only were able to score four points in losing their first match against Clark-Floyd County. They also had good competition going in their second match but ultimately lost to Putnam County 21-11 for a fourth-place finish in Division 348.

This was the first of three weekends of Special Olympics Indiana’s second-largest annual sporting event.

Other sports competing in the EKS Games on Sunday were flag football, volleyball and distance run/walk. There were more than 1,800 athletes, coaches and unified partners participating.

On Saturday at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex in Danville, dozens of athletes will compete in the state equestrian competition.

Then Sept. 21, more than 300 golfers will compete at Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood, while sectional champions from across the state compete in the softball tournament at Midwest Sports Complex in Indianapolis.

Overall, a record 3,000-plus competitors representing 66 Special Olympics county programs in Indiana will participate in the annual EKS Games and qualifying events leading up to it.

The sports feature traditional and unified contests, bringing athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team and same playing field as a means of promoting inclusion and fostering friendship.

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For information about Special Olympics Indiana’s EKS Games, visit soindiana.org/eks-games.

For information about Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County, visit facebook.com/jacksoncountyspecialolympics.

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