Friday marked the final day of Special Olympics USA Games action and many of the week’s events had already wrapped up, making for a much less crowded University of Washington campus.
The highlight of the day was in basketball where Team Wisconsin played a rematch against Maryland for the gold medal. Because many sports had already completed competition, both teams had large crowds in attendance for the game at the Alaska Airlines Arena, where the University of Washington basketball teams play their games. Team Wisconsin came out strong early under the bright lights of the 10,000-seat arena, taking a lead into half.
But Maryland stormed back after the break, quickly making up ground when a couple of their players caught fire from the three-point range at just the right time. The intensity of the players, coaches and fans alike continued right up to the buzzer, when the final score showed 31-26 favoring Maryland.
Although the outcome wasn’t in Team Wisconsin’s favor, handshakes and hugs were given all around after the game ended. Both teams recognized how exciting and close a game it had been between two teams who enjoyed playing each other and who were evenly matched. Wisconsin had defeated Maryland a few days prior by an almost identical, but flipped, score of 30-26. Nonetheless, Team Wisconsin is bringing Wisconsin Pride, some gorgeous hardware and wonderful memories to last a lifetime back from the USA Games.
At the King County Aquatics Center, Seth Rehrauer of Oregon capped off a strong second half of the week with a gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke. After having to wait until the third day of competition to get in the water, Rehrauer finished with two golds, a silver and a bronze. His silver came when he anchored Team Wisconsin in the 4×50 medley relay. His accomplishments were made all the more impressive by the fact that he was Team Wisconsin’s youngest athlete at just 16 years old.
Steve Woodard of Portage added to his medals with a bronze in his own 50-meter backstroke race. This added to his gold in the 50-meter breaststroke and silver in the 4×50 medley relay.
Friday also saw many Team Wisconsin athletes get up to the podium for the afternoon events of the previous day. Thursday’s impressive 4×400-meter dash relay team was given their gold at the Husky Track Stadium while the bocce made it up to medal stand to receive their silver medals.