Local athletes earn gold at Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games

Michael Nowak of Darien carries the SEASPAR banner at the Special Olympics Illinois State Summer Games Opening Ceremony on June 7, 2024, his first state competition at age 55. Nowak went on to win a silver medal in his division of the athletics relay.

Twenty-eight athletes trained by the South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation (SEASPAR) earned a combined 54 medals, including 26 gold medals, at the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games June 7-9 in Bloomington-Normal.

The Summer Games is the largest of the 13 statewide Special Olympics competitions held throughout Illinois each year. It is the final annual competition for athletics, bocce, gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer and swimming. More than 3,500 athletes competed at the event on the Illinois State University campus. SEASPAR was represented in all sports but soccer by a total of 28 athletes.

Eight of the gold medal wins came in swimming. One of SEASPAR’s youngest competitors, 16-year-old Conor Mulcahy of La Grange Park, took home three gold medals, including one for a freestyle relay with teammates Mark Ploskonka and Chris Tegeler of Darien and William Porch of Westmont. Aiden Metzl of Woodridge and Sean Kristufek of Western Springs each also earned first-place in their 50-meter swimming events.

Six powerlifting athletes took home at least one gold medal, including Ryan Burke and Jack Van Alphen of Western Springs, Denny Fones of Westmont, Trent Oltrogge of Brookfield, TJ Postmus of Downers Grove and Allen Roete of Darien.

Ron Kamper of Indian Head Park earned a gold medal in the traditional singles bocce event, Michael Duffy of Western Springs won gold in his division of mini javelin, Kendall Wright earned gold in his division of running long jump and Michael Drabik of Woodridge took gold in the pentathlon.

The SEASPAR athletes dedicated their medals to the late Randy Naberhaus, a lifelong Lisle resident and SEASPAR participant who died in 2023. This was the first Summer Games in recent memory without Randy competing alongside his brother Gary, who volunteers with SEASPAR.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

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