The Union County Special Olympics team, top row from left to right: Coaches Doug Trice, Tim Helwick, Art Trice Kathy Hagey and Tina Bowen. Front row from left to right: Joey Gross, Jason Franks, Braden Trice, Dani Thorne, Jenny Coppin and Mary Lee.
The Union County Special Olympics team enjoyed a successful weekend at the Special Olympics Oregon State Meet in Newberg Saturday and Sunday.
Jason Franks was one of two Union County athletes to earn a gold medal, as he took first in the 100-meter dash.
“Jason has been in the program for five years, and he has worked really hard to get into shape,” Union County Special Olympics coach Doug Trice said. “He worked really hard and very well. I’m really pleased with his performance.”
Franks also won gold in the standing long jump on Sunday after the first one- hour lightning delay. Trice said that intermittent lightning near Newburg High School resulted in most of Sunday’s events getting canceled.
The other Union County gold medalist was Dani Thorne, who won the softball throw.
“We’ve worked a lot on her posture and getting her feet together,” Trice said. “She got in, fired the ball out there and did really well, especially for just her second year in the program.”
The silver medalist in the softball throw was also a Union County athlete, as Trice said Jenny Copin threw very well after overcoming her nerves.
In her first year taking part of the Special Olympics program, Mary Lee took home fourth place in the softball throw and fifth place in the 100-meter dash.
In the shot put, Joey Gross battled a recurring ankle injury to finish fifth.
“Joey threw eight meters after throwing 10 at regionals,” Trice said. “He’s had some ankle issues, so he wasn’t able to perform at 100 percent. He still got better with each throw, and he was a great supporter, always helping out his teammates and cheering them on.”
Competing in his favorite event, Trice’s son Braden finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. Doug said Braden did a great job of competing along with the entire group of Union County athletes. Additionally, Trice said the time spent amongst the athletes traveling to the meet and bonding in between events brought everyone closer together and allowed Union County athletes to create a stronger sense of camaraderie.
“I tell my athletes I always want them to give your best effort,” Trice said. “I’m always happy as long as they give 100 percent. I want them to be proud of the effort they gave too.”