Roughly 200 Athletes Compete in Special Olympics Tournament
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.--As the high school hoops season is winding down, the playoff race is heating up. And it was no different for roughly 200 Special Olympics athletes who hit the court Sunday with the chance to qualify for state.
Twenty teams competed in the Western Area Special Olympics Basketball Tournament at Colorado Mesa. In the past, the first place teams from each division have always advanced to the state tournament; however, they opened up more slots this year to allow a total of 60 teams to participate.
Western area manager Julie Fite predicts about nine teams from the region will go to state, which tips off March 16th in Lakewood.
"There's a handful that will go on to state," Fite said. "But it just means the world that athletes can show their peers and their families what all they can do."
It was an especially great day for one athlete, Zach Marolf, who puts basketball very high on his priority list.
Marolf, a manager for Colorado Mesa men's and women's hoops teams, can be found courtside at Brownson Arena every home game to cheer on the Mavericks.
But on Sunday, those roles were reversed.
Several members of the teams came out to CMU to support Marolf as he competed in the tournament.
"I invited them to come out and cheer me on today," Marolf said. "They were a good help for me."
His team took first place in the division, but win or lose, it was his chance to shine.