Trio of Summit athletes make podium at Special Olympics Western Region track meet
The Summit Tigers’ Special Olympic team continues to excel after a successful winter season as three Silverhtorne-based athletes traveled to Grand Junction to compete in the Special Olympics Western Region track and field meet on May 15.
The trio of athletes — which included Erikka Abbott, Jessy Dorton and Gabe Duwaik — all prepared for the meet throughout the season and put their skills on display at Stocker Stadium near downtown Grand Junction and on the campus of Colorado Mesa University.
All three athletes competed in three separate events. The Tigers competed against teams from across the western region which includes 20 other counties located throughout Colorado. The counties in the region include Archuletta, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Jackson, La Plata, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, San Juan, San Miguel and Summit.
Despite the large field of competitors, the Tigers rose to the occasion, notching podium finishes in all nine events including eight first-place finishes.
“This was just our second season of track and field, and our athletes have shown much improvement,“ volunteer and coach Diane Mikulis said. ”They were so excited to compete in the meet.”
Abbott competed in the 1500-meter run, standing long jump and shot put. Abbott, who also competed in the 2022 Special Olympics Colorado State Winter Games back in March, finished in first place in all three of her events.
Abbott jumped 0.83 meters in the standing long jump and threw the shot put for 3.70 meters. In the 1500-meter run, Abbott battled the 90 degree heat in Grand Junction to place first in a time of 13 minutes, 32.59 seconds.
“She really stuck it out and persevered and sprinted in those last 200-meters as fast as she could,” Tigers assistant track coach Tracey Dodds Larson said. “It was great to see her perform really well in a hard event and in tough conditions.”
Following the success of Abbott, Dorton, who graduated from Summit High School this spring, took home gold in his three respective events.
Dorton competed in the long jump, shot put and 200-meter dash. In the standing long jump Dorton mustered a jump of 2.3 meters while throwing the shot put over the five meter mark, registering a toss of 5.30 meters.
In the 200-meter dash, Dorton did his best Usain Bolt impression as he sprinted down the homestretch of the track, gapping his competitions in the process to cross the finish line in a time of 34.50 seconds.
Rounding out the talent for the Summit Tigers was Duwaik. He used his success on the ski slope at the state winter games to carry him through the outdoor track season as he placed first in two events and second in one.
Duwaik’s most impressive performance of the meet arguably came in the men’s 400-meter run. He clocked a blazing fast time of 1:52.35, well under the pace of an eight minute mile. The time was enough for the Silverthorne local to be given a first place ribbon for his performance.
Following his performance in the 400-meter run, Duwaik recorded a mark of 1.82 meters in the standing long jump and a mark of 6 meters in the shot put. Duwaik placed first in the long jump and second in the shot put.
“Anytime you finish on the podium as an athlete is a great day, so they were definitely excited and very proud as they should be,” Dodds Larson said.
The trio of athletes were supported in their performances by Summit Tigers head coach Kristin Myers alongside assistant coaches Dodds Larson and Tom Combs.
The Summit Tigers will start their tennis season on July 6. The team will host practice every Wednesday in preparation for the state competition on Aug. 20 at the Air Force Academy.
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