Special Olympics athletes compete in corn toss state tournament

CARMEL — Corn toss made a return for Special Olympics Indiana in 2021.

After only taking place at the county level in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state tournament returned this year with competition Sunday at Carmel Middle School.

Duos from around the state, including Jackson County, gathered on the track at the school to compete in traditional 21-foot or Unified 30-foot doubles.

Jackson County had four athlete duos. In the opening round in the morning, Dale Hickman and Tim Ashburn were the only winners, claiming a 21-2 victory over Kosciusko County.

Meanwhile, Derrick Martin and Elijah Noble lost a close 21-19 match to Howard County, Donald Bennethum and Roger Hanner lost 21-11 to Lake County and Becky Klosterman and Cassie Brock lost 21-9 to Clark-Floyd County.

Hickman and Ashburn advanced to the championship of their division in the afternoon. They wound up receiving gold medals after a 21-9 triumph over Putnam County. That was Hickman’s second gold medal, as he also won one in 2019 when Jackson County first competed in the state tournament.

In the consolation bracket, the three Jackson County duos won their matches. Martin and Noble won 21-9, Bennethum and Hanner won 16-0 and Klosterman and Brock won 21-11.

Also Sunday, Jackson County athlete Alysha Sandlin was supposed to be paired with Averie Brennan, but Brennan wasn’t able to attend.

Volunteer Zach Spicer filled in, but that meant Sandlin could only compete for a participation ribbon.

In the opening round, Sandlin and Spicer faced Kosciusko County, but one of its players couldn’t be there, either, so an event volunteer stepped in to play. Sandlin and Spicer won 21-19.

In the afternoon, they again played the same athlete from Kosciusko County along with another athlete from that county, and Sandlin and Spicer won 21-5.

Jackson County was coached by Jim Shepherd.