Special Olympic team wins big at State

Last week 17 athletes from Cottage Grove competed in the Special Olympics State Games in Corvallis. 

The annual event, that works to promote values of sports and community with youth and adults who are living with intellectual disabilities, saw over 2,000 participants in track and field, bocce, golf and softball. The Cottage Grove contingent saw nine different participants in track and field and four teams of two for the bocce competition. 

The weekend began with the opening ceremonies taking place at Reser Stadium. Each group of athletes was paraded into the stadium with a sign that said where they were from being held by a member of the Oregon State football team. 

The track events began Saturday at Corvallis High School and in races from the 50 meter to the 200 meter and in the softball throw, Cottage Grove athletes were bringing home the hardware. William Craft got bronze, Natasha Cosper and Kendall Thiel walked away with silver and Ian Miller, Rebecca Peanella and Jill Vavreka all claimed gold. Additionally, the team also earned 11 ribbons. 

“It went really well,” said head coach Bob Alexander. “For a small town team that’s pretty good.”

On the bocce side, each of the four teams came home with a medal. The duo of Monica Venice and Carmen Dowell and the pair of Gary Hilgendorf and Eric Nilson all placed second. Then Ryan Britton and Jonathon Meade and the team of Rob Brooks and Travis Thomas both took first. 

“I enjoy working with these guys, they’re fun to be around. And they try so hard they give their heart,” said Alexander of both groups. “They just improve physically and their ability to do their sport improves vastly.”

The athletes and members of their families spent the weekend in the dorms at Oregon State. This was an opportunity to mingle with old and new friends and share meals.