MIAC concludes Division III Week with third annual Special Olympics Unified Sports Competition

MIAC student-athletes and unified athletes

by Lindsay Madryga

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) wrapped up NCAA Division III week by hosting the third annual MIAC Unified Sports Competition on Sunday, April 8, at GameWorks – Mall of America. This year's event featured something new, with the MIAC hosting its first ever bowling tournament with Special Olympics Minnesota.

 "Our first ever MIAC Unified Bowling event was a great success, as it allowed for a different group of unified athletes to be involved with MIAC student-athletes and created an opportunity to grow their relationships with other student-athletes from the conference," MIAC Assistant Director Lindsay Madryga said. "We are extremely grateful to have such outstanding student-athletes in the conference who participated in this year's event and appreciate how hard they work to make every Special Olympics event successful."

Twenty-four MIAC student-athletes from across the conference joined 24 of the top unified bowlers from three Special Olympic Organizations in the Twin Cities participating in the tournament. Each team was made up of two MIAC student-athletes and two unified athletes, bowling two games to find the best team average and determine a champion.

The high score of the day came from Special Olympics unified bowler Trent Kekedakis with a 169 in Game 1 to help his team clinch the title of MIAC Special Olympics Unified Sports Champions for a team score average of 117. The championship team included Augsburg University student-athletes Eli May and Adam Pancoast and Special Olympics unified athletes Chelsey Ellering and Trent Kekedakis.

The highlight of the event was certainly all of the MIAC student-athletes and unified athletes coming together to celebrate the relationships built through the Division III partnership with Special Olympics. Outside of the annual MIAC Special Olympics Unified Sports Competition, all 13 MIAC member institutions are heavily involved in organizing, facilitating and volunteering their time with Special Olympics on their own campuses throughout the year. Events such as this enable student-athletes to engage with Special Olympics while providing a chance to demonstrate the citizenship and comprehensive learning attributes Division III student-athletes are recognized for.

Visit the photo gallery to relive the great day.