Bowlers from Highlands County competed on June 22 at Coz's Bowling Center in the Special STARS County Games.
Out of nearly 100 competitors, participants from Highlands County that placed first or second advanced to the district games and will face the best bowlers from Hardee and Okeechobee Counties. Districts will be held today.
The STARS circuit is focused on providing people with disabilities a chance to participate in athletic activities. Those who were in wheelchairs were able to use ramps to compete. Two levels of ramp bowling were available - assisted and unassisted. In assisted ramp bowling, a volunteer lines up the ramp for the bowler so they can throw the ball down lane. Unassisted ramp bowling requires requires the bowler to set up the ramp themselves.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3880 President Dale Emerson and Commander David Cahill were also in attendance to present the American flag while the national anthem was played during the opening ceremony.
At the county games, trophies were presented to the best and most improved bowlers in various categories. Jeannine Eby, Carl Smith, and Jim Kentfield received awards for most improved in assisted ramp bowling, with pin improvements of 19, 17, and 17, respectively.
In unassisted ramp bowling, Stephanie Travi took home most improved on the women's side with a 32 pin improvement while Tony Bock won the men's award with a 26 pin improvement. Nancy Cassels and Perry Bright won most improved in female and male bowling, with a 30 and 36-pin improvement, respectively. Cody Crouse took home the award for bumper bowling with a 10-pin improvement.
Awards for best bowlers in assisted ramp bowling went to Carlita Hawkins and Jimmy Phipps. Hawkins finished with an average score of 100, which included a high-game of 112. Phipps ended with an average score of 82 and a high-game of 103. Patty Wilfong took home best bowler for the women in unassisted ramp bowling, finishing with an average score of 133 and a high-game of 161.
On the men's side, Tony Bock took the top spot for unassisted ramp bowling thanks to a high-game of 157 and a 130 average. Sharon Carpenter and Shawn Squires rounded out the best bowler awards for the men and women's side, as Carpenter finished with an average score of 103 and a high-game of 159 while Squires finished with a high-game of 255 and an average score of 198. Crouse won his second award of the day, capturing best bowler in bumper bowling with an average score of 79 and a high-game of 89.
After the competition, bowlers enjoyed a pizza dinner while their awards were handed out. Ribbons were also given to every athlete who competed.
Special STARS is also affiliated with Ridge Area Arc, a non-profit day school for children with disabilities located in Avon Park. Completely operated by volunteers, STARS provides more than 12 different sports and recreational programs for 400 children and adults with mental and physical disabilities in Highlands, Hardee, and Okeechobee Counties.
Anyone wanting more information about Special STARS, can call Coordinator Cindy Marshall at (863) 452-1295, ext. 124.