Hawkins Special Olympics bowlers win five gold medals at state championship

Jeff Bobo • Nov 4, 2019 at 11:57 AM

CHURCH HILL — Hawkins County sent 12 athletes to the Tennessee Special Olympics state bowling competition last week, and they returned with five gold medals among several top finishes in the highly competitive event.

More than 200 competitors representing 25 counties participated in the event, which took place at Tenn Pin Alley in Columbia.

Hawkins County’s team consisted of four adult Special Olympians, four Volunteer High School Special Olympians, and four VHS peer students who participated in “unified” competition.

VHS special education teacher and Special Olympics coordinator Christy Thacker told the Times News Friday that the team put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the event.

That effort paid off with five gold medals and multiple podium finishes.

“I am very proud of all our athletes and their commitment to train and compete at the best of their ability,” Thacker said. “These unified partners exhibit respect and inclusion and are great role models for all our students.”

Scottie Smith won the adult single competition gold medal with a team-high, two-game total score of 244, while Alex Hilton was third and Robert Miller placed fifth.

Smith and Miller then won the gold in adult doubles competition.

Hilton and VHS student Blake McConnell teamed up in the doubles ramp division and placed second in the state.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Department of Education designated VHS a Unified Champion School in recognition of its Unified Special Olympics program.

The program pairs special needs students with other student peers who compete together in special track and field events. VHS is the only state-designated Unified Champion School in East Tennessee.

In unified doubles competition last week, Ali Thacker and Justin Middleton won a gold medal, while Izaiah Hoe and Hunter Johnson placed fourth.

The quartet then combined to win the gold for Hawkins County in team competition.

In unified student doubles competition, Alex Hutson and Clint Barrett won a gold medal, while Lauren Ross and Lindsey Trent placed third.

Those four then formed Hawkins County’s second team and placed third in the team championship.