The 31st annual Area 15 Special Olympics Track and Field Competition set a record for participation Wednesday at Heritage High School.

A total of 362 athletes registered for the event, according to Tisha Welshan, office manager for the Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Two hundred coaches and 320 volunteers also were on hand to help the participants, ages 8 and older.

Wyatt Potter, a student at Union Grove Middle School, received the Colin Award, presented to a Special Olympian who stands out as “going the extra mile” every day, in memory of Colin Bemis.

Abby Esbrandt, also of UGMS, was the T-shirt design winner, and Michael McPeak, an independent participant, was the program design winner.

Athletes of the Year included Elizabeth Harville, The Gate; Jade Ezell, independent; Braden Tyler, Heritage High School; Teagan Fisher, Alcoa Middle School; and Christian Meadows, Middlesettlements Elementary.

Sheri Bowles of Mary Blount Elementary School received the Virginia Simmons Coach of the Year Award.

Law enforcement officers and community volunteers brought in the Flame of Hope with Corey Chandler of William Blount High School, Emily Snyder of Mary Blount Elementary and Micah Collins of Eagleton Middle School.

Cookie Crowson, who recently retired as assistant director of Parks and Rec, was recognized for 30 years of service to Special Olympics. She introduced Will Hubbs, recently hired as program coordinator and director of the Area 15 Special Olympics program.

Rick Russo, who served as master of ceremonies, was recognized for 25 years of service.

(1) comment


2017 Coach of the year was awarded to Sheri Bowles from Mary Blount Elementary.

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