State tournaments are for everybody: Adapted bowling sends four to state, Unified Club competes in Moorhead
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the Detroit Lakes adapted bowling team had members compete in an in-person state tournament.
DETROIT LAKES – It's been an excellent year for Detroit Lakes High School athletics. Some might even call it historic.
Last Friday, four more Lakers stepped foot on a state-tournament stage. Reagan Lee, Wyatt Schlehr, Abby Lipton and Hunter Lindquist competed in Brooklyn Park at the adapted bowling state tournament. Personal records were broken, and championships were celebrated by special needs student-athletes for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020.
In adapted bowling, there are three divisions for the student-athletes. ASD (autism spectrum disorder), CI (cognitive impaired) and PI (physical impaired). Within each division are singles, doubles and teams of four. Students can compete in two categories in a given meet. Each competitor bowls in two games before the scores are adjusted using their regular season handicap, which is the average score throughout the regular season.
Lee took 20th place in the CI Singles Girls competition with a score of 398. Her highest mark of the day came in at 96. Schlehr's best score of 66 landed him in 29th place in the ASD Singles Boys competition, with a total of 368.
In the CI Doubles event, Lipton and Linquist took 16th with a combined score of 793. Lipton bowled a personal best of 126 in her final high school meet, while Lindquist recorded a 117. Head coaches Cali Harrier and Carol Kuhmley were excited to see four of their team's eight bowlers make it to state.
"We competed at the section meet in Moorhead on May 4," they said. "We traveled with all eight bowlers. The results are not announced immediately, so the waiting can be tough. When we found out that four made it, two seniors and two freshmen, it was great to see the seniors get to compete at the state level for the final time. Of course, it was also great to see the freshmen getting to experience state to get them excited for future opportunities."
"Getting to be a part of the excitement and joy these students experience is amazing. Watching them cheer for everyone on all teams is awesome."
Five days later, Detroit Lakes' unified program sent athletes and sidekicks to Moorhead for a track and field meet.
The 4x100-meter relay team of Emeric Swiers, Wyatt Schlehr, Christian Solberg and Bradly Swiers took first place. Detroit Lakes also had two teams compete in the 4x25-meter relay. The team of Caden Tungsevick, Ty Jones, Grant Germundson and Markus Lyman took first while the team of Reagan Lee, Addie Strand, Carson Rogstad and Aiden Hamar finished third.
Unified sports are set up through the Special Olympics and partnering high schools. Detroit Lakes High School is a Minnesota Unified Champion High School. Student-athletes partner with classmates to compete together in unified events. This year, the Detroit Lakes Unified Club competed in a bowling tournament in Alexandria and in Wednesday's track meet in Moorhead.
Detroit Lakes High School allows students to join the Unified Club as "Sidekicks," participate in Unified PE class, compete in the Unified sporting events and educate each other through whole-school engagement in advocacy campaigns such as "Words Matter," "Choose to Include" and "Random Acts of Kindness."
"These opportunities are valuable to all our student-athletes and the coaches," Harrier and Kuhlmey said. "The time we spend together traveling builds relationships and creates memories that we will take with us beyond high school. We had a great time (on Wednesday) competing with Moorhead and Fergus Falls. The relays compete for places. All the other events are for fun. Students all received participation awards."
Back to the lanes
The pandemic put a hold on many things. Unfortunately, special needs athletics were one of them.
"In 2020, the adapted bowling season was canceled. In 2021, we were able to compete, but all of the meets were virtual, including the state tournament," Harrier and Kuhlmey said. "This season, we were able to return to a combination of virtual and in-person meets, which is how we've competed in previous years."
Getting back into the flow of adapted bowling meets was a bit of a challenge. But, when it mattered most, the Lakers showed what they're made of at the section meet.
"The season had some ups and downs–learning how to navigate different lanes, different weighted bowling balls and how to manage three games a week," Harrier and Kuhlmey said. "Our team rose to the occasion at the section meet in Moorhead. All team members improved throughout the season."
Both coaches have felt embraced by community support in their efforts to provide all of the athletes with the best high school athletic experience.
"Our community is great to reach out via social media," they said. "Our high school sent us off by having the state-bound students run through the halls. Seeing our athletes smiling and high-fiving everyone was awesome. As we continue to grow our Unified Movement in the school, our community has really supported our Unified Club through support and donations."