Local athletes compete at Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games


By Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 10:52 am on Thursday, June 07, 2012

Athlete Brent Tazelaar competes in the 100-meter dash during the Special Olympics Michigan State games in Mount Pleasant on Friday. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE — The cold wind and rain didn’t cool or dampen the excitement of seven Greenville Middle School students who participated in the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games this past weekend.

Greenville Middle School staff member Amy Gunderson said some events were held inside of Central Michigan University’s indoor track complex.

Greenville athlete Sydney Cooper, 14, said they also competed outside. Besides receiving medals, Cooper was recognized as royalty for her area.

“Some people get to be crowned king and queen,” she said. “I was queen of our area.”

Area 6 had a total of 114 athletes who participated in the weekend event.

“Our area brings athletes from Montcalm and Ionia counties that are adults too,” Gunderson said. “However, this group from the middle school is the youngest they take.

There are 10 types of competition offered at the State Summer Games each year. Greenville athlete Brandon Bunce, 14, named a few that athletes participate in.

Athlete Jordan Krause participates in the running long jump during the Special Olympics Michigan State games in Mount Pleasant on Saturday. — Courtesy photo

“There is bowling and swimming,” he said. “The high school athletes do bocce ball.”

Being an athlete can be tiring for some, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying the chance to compete with each other during the games. Greenville athlete Brent Tazelaar, 12, said running wasn’t the same as sitting around playing his video games.

“I had fun running,” he said. “Until I was done and I got all tired out and laid down on the ground. I like bowling better.”

Athlete Gage Guinnup, 12, was happy he was part of the team in Mount Pleasant.

“It is hard work to be here,” Guinnup said.

Athlete Lucas Christesen, 15, described the atmosphere during the opening ceremonies as they walked into Kelly Shorts Stadium.

“There is football players that hold up signs to show where we line up,” he said. “As we walk in on the sides of us there is policemen, soldiers from the Army, Navy and everything.”

A Coast Guard flyover was provided by U.S. Coast Guard Air Station from Traverse City.

“We saw helicopters fly over us,” Cooper said.

Nearly 2,600 athletes and 3,400 coaches, chaperones, family members, volunteers and spectators were in Mount Pleasant to support the athletes competing.

Athlete Sydney Cooper stands during the medal ceremony after receiving a bronze medal Saturday during the Special Olympics Michigan State games in Mount Pleasant. — Courtesy photo

One event was new for the seven athletes, and 15-year-old athlete Brenton Johnson he said he enjoyed everything about the games and he was okay with the shot put event.

The shot put was a new event for them this year Gunderson said.

“It was my favorite,” Bunce said.

Athlete Jordan Krause, 13, had fun while competing in the running long jump.

“You have to be careful and not cross the white line,” he said. “Or you get disqualified if you do it three times.”

The athletes took home medals to remember this summer’s competition.

“I start to get nervous when they hand out the medals,” Christensen said. “My dad always comes to watch too.”
Gunderson said her favorite part is watching her students compete as athletes. Cooper liked the idea of participating with those she don’t know.

“What I really like is that I get to compete with a different person,” Cooper said.

After closing ceremonies the athletes got to participate in the victory dance, which was held inside this year because of rain.

Athlete Brandon Bunce receives a gold medal during the Special Olympics Michigan State games in Mount Pleasant on Saturday. — Courtesy photo

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