Thursday’s Special Olympics USA Games action was intense as pool play in team sports gave way to the medal rounds. The highlight of the day was in Unified soccer, where Team Wisconsin faced Colorado for gold in their division. It was a bittersweet matchup for the two teams. They had bonded nicely during the tournament and had all become good friends.
But somebody had to take the gold and on this day it would be Team Wisconsin. Despite a late goal by Colorado that cut the deficit to one score and put everyone on the edge of their seats, Team Wisconsin prevailed 3-2. Goals by Unified partner Cody Peters of Mukwonago and athlete Robert Hall of La Crosse, as well as Colorado scoring an accidental own goal, helped put Wisconsin on the top of the podium in dramatic fashion.
At the Husky Track Stadium, Team Wisconsin competed in the final track and field event of the USA Games, which meant the crowd was large and the energy was electric. Team Wisconsin delivered a sterling performance in the 4 x 400 relay, bringing gold home. Steve Powers of Elkhorn had the final leg of the race and just about flew around the track.
It was a big moment for Crystal Fougner of Amery. As a sprinter, she had never competed in the 400-meter run. But she knew her team needed her for this relay race and she stepped up and rose to the challenge like the experienced and selfless athlete she is. And as the veteran of the athletics team this brought her fourth USA Games to a close on a high note. She not only ended the week with an impressive two golds, a silver and a bronze, but she was able to see some younger track and field athletes really come into their own during the week. She’s confident that the Wisconsin program is in good hands with the next generation of emerging athletes.
Action was fairly limited at the King County Aquatic Center for Team Wisconsin but Christine Cherne, Cindy Dexter and Seth Rehrauer all picked up additional medals by placing third in their respective races.
USA Games bocce concluded with a gold medal match between Team Wisconsin and Northern California in the team event. Northern California, accustomed to playing year-round on the types of courts used in the tournament, used the rails to their advantage in a hard-fought victory over Team Wisconsin. Wisconsin started to mount a comeback in the last 10 minutes of the match as they became more comfortable playing the rails along with Northern California but time expired before they could make up the deficit. Nonetheless they had fun and are bringing home beautiful silver medals.
The evening was capped off by a trip by many of the Team Wisconsin delegation to watch the Seattle Mariners play. What a great day 4!
USA Games photos (will continue to be updated as more photos are taken/received)