Craig sends 13 to Summer Games

Special Olympics athletes to compete in weightlifting, swimming and track and field

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A baker's dozen.

That's how many Craig athletes qualified for the 38th annual Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games on Saturday and Sunday in Greeley.

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About 1,100 Special Olympic athletes and Unified Sports partners will test their skills in aquatics, athletics (track and field), gymnastics, powerlifting and soccer.

Terri Takata-Smith, Special Olympics Colorado marketing manager, said Unified Sports partners is a program that allows Special Olympics athletes to compete alongside non-disabled peers.

Aquatics events are scheduled for Loveland, and gymnastics for Windsor, while all remaining events will meet at the University of Northern Colorado campus.

The six aquatics representatives from Craig are Jamie Ogden, Ashleigh Santistevan, Mariah Kowach, Dayla Pritchard, Josh Dalton and J.D. Dalton.

Bonnie Dalton is the aquatics coach, and JoAnn Santistevan serves as the assistant coach.

"It used to be automatic, but now you must qualify," Dalton said. "To go to state, you only get so many slots, and unfortunately this year, there were two people we couldn't take with us."

Three athletic (track and field) athletes are Josh Chase, Jaremie Ogden and E.J. Camp. Matt Frederickson is the coach, and April Camp assists Frederickson.

Cheryl Chase, Josh's mother and the assistant powerlifting coach, emphasized the family togetherness the Special Olympics has brought to their house.

"He (Josh) likes it," she said. "It's a pretty awesome thing. The Special Olympics is an awesome program."

J'Lea Dalton, Grant Dalton, Dez Nugent and Jason Lathom will perform bench press, dead and squat lifts as part of the powerlifting competition.

Billie Chase is their coach, and wife Cheryl assists.

J'Lea is preparing for her 10th trip to the Summer Games.

"It means there's more competition and you get to meet new people and become friends," she said of the state experience. "When you get a gold medal, you really feel like you've accomplished something. The fun part is meeting new people and competing."

Drew Turner can be reached at 824-7031, ext 211, or aturner@craigdailypress.com

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