In April, Special Olympics Kentucky and Transylvania University in Lexington teamed up once again to compete at the Fourth Annual Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Unified Bowling Tournament. SOKY and Transy sent three teams to the event, which was held April 7-8 at Expo Bowl in Indianapolis. The event handicapped all bowler averages to 200, then counted the two best game scores toward a final score to determine the division champions.
The three teams who competed at the event included Lexington Special Olympics athletes Jeremy Thompson, Julia Steinman, Casie Siefert, Andrew Browning, Kenneth James and Corey Owens; and Transylvania students Graham Smith, Zenovia Walker, Elizabeth Hardiman, Emily Neat, Chris Schaefer and Merrick Irwin.
Thompson and Steinman teamed with Smith and Walker to take second place in their flight with 2,551 pins, 142 pins out of the gold medal, which was won by Anderson University. Thompson led the team and was second overall in their division with a three-game handicapped total of 694 pins. That score also placed him 10th overall, earning him All-HCAC honors..
The Division 2 team of Siefert, Owens Hardiman and Neat placed ninth in their division with 2,164 pins. Siefert led the way on that team with a three-game total of 588. The Division 3 team of Browning, James, Schaefer and Irwan placed eighth with a total of 2,388 pins. James led the way there with a three-game total of 644.
The SOKY-Transy combination finished sixth overall in the combined score.
“I am thrilled with the level of enthusiasm, support and participation this event has generated from our conference membership and Special Olympics,” said HCAC Commissioner Chris Ragsdale. “Unified Bowling has provided a wonderful opportunity for our conference student-athletes to engage in competition with Special Olympics athletes, develop meaningful relationships, and share with them as teammates the desire and determination necessary in sport to be successful.”
In all, 125 bowlers took part in the event, and this is the first year that all 10 HCAC teams were represented at the conference Unified Bowling Tournament.
The partnership between the HCAC and Special Olympics aligns with the Division III strategic-positioning platform as the student-athlete becomes more involved in the local community. Special Olympics Kentucky has had a tremendous relationship with Transylvania – which has partnered with us on the HCAC bowling tournament each of the four years, Centre – which hosts a flag football regional tournament each year, and Thomas More – which hosted several state and local events before moving to NAIA membership.