INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and Special Olympics Indiana partnered to host the fifth-annual Unified Sports Bowling Championship, Sunday, April 7 at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. The occasion continued the conference's and NCAA Division III's partnership with Special Olympics.
During the event, over 125 athletes from Special Olympics chapters in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky and student-athletes from HCAC member institutions teamed up in an effort to bring home the fifth HCAC Unified Bowling Championship.
"The Unified Bowling Championship is one of the most impactful programs sponsored by the HCAC," stated HCAC Commissioner Maureen Harty. "This event provides the Special Olympians the opportunity to compete in the uniform of an HCAC institution alongside their HCAC student-athlete teammates. This inclusive event brings two groups together that may not normally interact and allows them to bond over a common love of sport. Our student-athletes learn to embrace the abilities of those with special needs and form new friendships. It truly is a rewarding experience for all involved."
Unified is a term that reflects athletes with intellectual disabilities and without intellectual disabilities competing together on a team. Each team had four total members, two with intellectual disabilities and two without intellectual disabilities, with each HCAC member institution sponsoring multiple teams at the event.
Teams finishing first, second, or third in their division received gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively, while fourth through tenth place received ribbons.
The team with the highest score including handicap was awarded the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship trophy. Mount St. Joseph University claimed the school's second Unified Bowling championship title with a total pin fall of 5,486 during the event.
Bluffton University's Tyler Connors earned the HCAC Most Valuable Player award for his efforts, finishing with the highest three-game series bowling score without the handicap (scratch score) of 576 total pins.
All-Conference awards were presented to the top five HCAC Partners and the top five Special Olympics Athletes with the total pin fall plus handicap. See below for the total list of All-HCAC honorees.
The partnership between the HCAC and Special Olympics aligns with the Division III strategic-positioning platform as the student-athlete becomes more involved in the local community.
|1.||Mount St. Joseph||5,271|
|Will Scaggs||Mount St. Joseph||732|
|Tyler Connors (MVP)||Bluffton||726 - 576 Scratch Total|
|Zack Storc||Mount St. Joseph||711|
|Jason Morency||Mount St. Joseph||683|