Local Athletes Medal At Special Olympics Games

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In Raleigh, North Carolina, the Arizona team -- which featured two Payson athletes and one local coach --stamped itself a top-notch championship contender, winning a bounty of medals at the Special Olympic World Games.

Participating on the 48-member Arizona team were bowler Heather Werlinger, trackster David Frohme and bowling team coach Annie Spencer.

The Arizona keglers finished as the gold-medal winner in SO's Division 6, which is the highest level of competition.

Frohme ran and jumped his way to gold, bronze and fourth-place national medals in the track and field competition.

On the state's bowling team with Werlinger were two Flagstaff Special Olympians and one representing Tucson. Competition opened with Werlinger taking fifth in the women's singles event. Later in the women's doubles, Werlinger teamed with Tucson's Sandra German to cop fourth.

The Arizona men's team of Flagstaff's Lewis Brown and Greg Davidson pin-busted their way to fourth in the doubles.

In the men's singles, Davidson won a bronze medal and Brown was sixth.

The Olympics wrapped up with the team competition which the Arizona team won narrowly over squads from Australia, China and the United Kingdom.

"We were the only state represented in the Division 6 finals," Spencer said.

While his teammates were dominating the lanes, Frohme -- a long-time, award-winning Special Olympian in Payson -- was leaping his way to first place in the running long jump with a mark of 2.54 meters.

In the 800 meters, he took third in 2.51:59, besting runners from Norway and Luxembourg.

Touring the 5,000 meter in 27:03.52, he finished fourth.

Spencer said the medal-winning performances in Raleigh were a huge thrill for the entire Arizona team. "It was an honor just to be chosen (to the state team)," she said. "Winning so many medals made it even better."

More than 7,000 Special Olympic athletes from around the world participated in the games.

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