The final days of competition were filled with more hard work, personal records, and medals! Let's take a look at some of the highlights from the second half of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
Those competing in Athletics from #TeamSOILL at the USA Games had a lot of fun but also put in a LOT of work, heading home with the results to prove it.
One example of the work that was put in was from Sabrina Veverka, who had major knee surgery in December – and was in jeopardy of not being able to attend Training Camp in April. But, she made it to Orlando, competing in three events, and bringing home the gold in the 400m walk. She also will be adding a bronze for the 100m walk to her collection. Sabrina also placed eighth for the mini-javelin. Way to hang tough, Sabrina!
Jordan Van Kooten took home the gold in both the 100m and 400m walk races. He competed in the fastest heat, meaning he was the fastest walker at the USA Games. Great job, Jordan!
Additional results for Athletics included:
Shot Put: Matthew Gorski, fifth place; Caroline Colianne, sixth place; Kraig Dahnke, eighth place
Running Long Jump: Brian Antczak, gold; Ean Yerbic, gold; Joey Kauffman, fourth place
100m Run: Brian Antczak, gold; Kraig Dahnke, participation ribbon
200m Run: Joey Kauffman, fifth place; Jaden Gryga, sixth place
800m Run: Alex Huegen, gold; Caroline Colianne, silver;
Mini-Javelin: Jaden Gryga, gold; Brandy Stowers, silver; Josie Stover, silver; Faith Short, fifth place; Jordan Van Kooten, fifth place; Rebecca Davis, sixth place; Kaydee Parini, seventh place;
4x100m Run Relay: #TeamSOILL #2 (Faith Short, Kaydee Parini, Josie Stover, Rebecca Davis), bronze;
#TeamSOILL #1 (Joey Kauffman, Brandy Stowers, Kraig Dahnke, Brian Antczak), sixth place
4x400m Run Relay: #TeamSOILL (Matthew Gorski, Alex Huegen, Gavin Morrow, Ean Yerbic): Gold
The Bocce team hit the courts each day ready to ROLL with their game faces on – one of the only times you would not find them smiling throughout the week. And it paid off. Both the men’s and women’s doubles teams took home the silver medal, with the full team finishing with a silver as well. Way to stay focused!
Bowling balls are heavy – and so are medals, as the #TeamSOILL bowlers found out this week. Following their singles rounds, the men and women teamed up for the doubles round. The men paired up to bring home the gold, while the women were awarded the bronze medal. And finally, the team competed together for a fourth place finish.
Both #TeamSOILL Unified Golf pairs spent time on the podium as well. Allen Platt and Mike Malcolm (Unified Partner) found the green while playing nine holes, alternating shots. A score of 56 earned them a shiny pair of silver medals. Similarly, Todd Tomaszewski and Todd Mallo (Unified Partner) brought their A-game to the Orlando links. Together, they shot a 98 in 18 holes, also earning silver. That’s some real teamwork!
#TeamSOILL Gymnastics left it all in the gym. Wednesday, our female competitors hit the floor with confidence. Mareena Mattison earned silver in vault and gold on the uneven bars; Maddie Harnar earned a fourth place ribbon on uneven bars along with a gold in vault; and Colleen Costello earned bronze in vault and gold on uneven bars.
The guys found their groove as well. Kyle Tuckey earned bronze medals in floor and pommel horse and gold on the rings; Chris Kenter earned silver in pommel horse and rings and gold for his floor routine; Danny Baker earned bronze in pommel horse, a silver for floor, and gold on rings; with Lucas Miezel earning fourth place for floor, bronze in rings, and gold in pommel horse.
The gymnasts finished their week with even more wins. Results from Thursday include:
Chris Kenter with a bronze in parallel bars, a silver in horizontal bar, and gold in vault.
Lucas Miezel with a bronze in parallel bars and silvers in horizontal bar and vault.
Danny Baker with a silver in parallel bars and golds in horizontal bar and vault.
Kyle Tuckey with a bronze in parallel bars and golds in horizontal bar and vault.
Maddie Harnar with a bronze in balance beam and silver in floor.
Mareena Mattison with golds in floor and balance beam.
Colleen Costello with a fourth place ribbon in balance beam and bronze in floor.
Talk about sticking the landing!
Powerlifting finished up the week the only way that they know how – STRONG! Wednesday saw Alysia Specht show off being small but mighty as she brought home the silver in bench press and deadlift as well as overall. Andrea Langford brought home the gold in bench press, then hit the podium again for both deadlift (silver) and overall (silver). Then, for the men, Isaiah Cunningham showed off his skills (and his personality), earning himself a silver in benchpress, fourth place in deadlift, and a bronze medal in overall.
Thursday saw more lights on the screen and wins on the stage. Matthew Ruegsegger showed us what he’s got by bringing home the bronze in squat, bench press, deadlift, and overall. Kirk Nelson also got the crowd going in the arena as he earned his way to a bronze in both bench press and deadlift, along with a silver in squat and overall.
The Swimming team from #TeamSOILL continued to make waves over at Rosen Aquatic Center. On Wednesday, every member of the team achieved a personal record! They also continued to earn medals on medals throughout the final days of competition.
The male 4 x 50 Medley Relay team of Matt Buck, Joseph Coffelt, Charles Niles, and Connor Nolan earned a bronze, as did the coed team of Marisa Prendergast, Matthew Danaher, Mari Landwehr, and Samuel Jackson. Joseph Coffelt also took home seventh place in the 200 Free, while teammate Catherine Reed brought home the silver medal in her division.
#TeamSOILL member Charlie Niles earned himself two medals, a bronze or the 500 Free and a silver for the 200 IM. Multiple team members competed in the 100 Breaststroke, including Alex Fix (gold), Kate Harms (silver), Matthew Buck (bronze), and Connor Nolan (sixth place). Finally, we had Marisa Prendergast taking home the silver medal in her division for the 50 Free and Jenna Dobson finishing in fifth place.
After many hours of practicing leading up to the games, plus spending nearly 24/7 together in Orlando, #TeamSOILL Flag Football was really bonded, and it showed in their semifinal and final matchups, where they earned two wins! They first defeated Maryland by a score of 26-20, and then brought home the team gold in the final game, defeating Kentucky 25-13.
The #TeamSOILL Soccer (Unified) team also played very well in their semifinal and final matches, first beating Utah for a second time (2-0) before falling to the team from New York 2-4 in the gold medal match, to bring home the silver medal.
Every member of #TeamSOILL really represented for our state. It was awesome to see! Congratulations to the entire team for their hard work as they competed on the national stage.
Athletes Reporting from Orlando
Three of our Special Olympics Illinois Athlete Leaders attended USA Games and covered the event. Check out this episode of Amazing Individuals:
Also reporting from Orlando were Youth Leadership Experience Unified Partners, McKenzie and Katrina. They captured footage of everything they did at USA Games, from storytelling, to volunteering, to checking out Disney World, and more. See what they were up to all week on the Unified Champion Schools Instagram and the Special Olympics Illinois TikTok page.
#TeamSOILL in the Media
Check Out the Journey
Don’t forget to connect with each of the Special Olympics Illinois social channels to see what happened in Orlando, including our Instagram Story highlight and our daily recap posts.
You can also check out our Flickr album for all the photos from USA Games.
Congratulations on all your hard work, #TeamSOILL! We are so proud of you.
To learn more about #TeamSOILL, or to support the team, go to soill.org/usa-games.