CF Special Olympic athletes earn gold at Districts

The Special Olympics northeast region track and field, and swimming events took place in Cedar Falls on March 5 at the University of Northern Iowa. The track and field portion of the event was held in the UNI Dome, and the swimming portion was held right next door. 

The athletes who earned themselves gold and silver medals will be continuing on to the state meet, and then even as far as nationals. Athletes that did not make this cut off, will be gearing up for the summer games where they will get another chance to compete. 

Cedar Falls had multiple gold medals. Sophomore Dayton Jensen won both the mini javelin and the 100m dash. His sister, sophomore Maya Jensen, won the 100m dash for females as well. 

Jude Corkery earned gold and silver medals in the 100m dash and a field event as well. Samir Kajtezovic earned a gold medal in the 100m as well. 

Shelby Blake earned a medal in the 50m dash, along with a field event as well. Cedar Falls had a strong performance with these athletes giving it their best. 

“It is a fun experience, and we are so proud of all of our athletes and how much work they put into training. We are also so thankful for our buddies, who help them get through it all,” special educator Kasey Dekko said.

The event brought a lot of people out, from ages 7 all the way up to 80 years old. The meet kicked off with the opening ceremonies. Olympics theme music while participants walked around the track with teams, and a few athletes shared carrying the torch. 

Peet freshman Jason Aldenman was lucky enough to carry the torch. “It was fun. I got to carry the torch and pass it off to my friend,” Aldenman said. 

With the opening ceremonies starting at 10, all events were underway by 10:45. The field events consisted of soft ball throw, shot put, mini javelin, tennis ball throw, standing long jump and a few others. After the field events were done, the athletes proceeded to lunch, which was catered by the event. 

Next up were the running races, which consisted of the 25m walk, 25m dash, 50m dash, 100m walk, 100m dash, 200m, 400m, 800m walk and a few team relays. There were teams present from all over Iowa, including Cedar Falls. 

“Being a volunteer at the event was truly special. It was a good experience, and we would love to come back next year and help. It is so amazing to get to see everyone compete,” volunteer Brent Merrick said.

“It was fun to help out and to make sure the athletes were hyped up for their events,” junior Anna Becker said. “I will definitely come back and help next year. It was good to see everyone getting a chance to compete, and everyone giving it their best.”

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