By Randi Pierce
The inaugural year of unified bowling at Pagosa Springs High School ended with the Pirates placing sixth at regional competition in Pueblo last week.
The top three teams from each region advance to the state tournament, which is set for tomorrow, Nov. 19, in Englewood.
“Our guys did their best, after only receiving one month of practice and placed 6th,” coach Cyndi Figaro stated in an email to The SUN.
Figaro explained that Pagosa Springs was originally placed in Region 3, but was moved to Region 1 for convenience. The team drove to Pueblo, competed and returned the same day.
Unified bowling was officially added to the slate of Pirate sports in November following a unanimous vote of the school board.
That move also put the Pirates in the same region as the top three finishers in the state last year, the coach noted, adding, “it was exciting to watch.”
Pagosa’s total pinfall at the regional tournament was 165.
Figaro further explains, “Competition uses the Baker Trio formation when bowling. Each bowler gets one throw and then it goes to the next bowler, regardless of the outcome. This is to make the playing field more equal when using athletes with and without an Intellectual Disability.”
Pueblo South, Pueblo Central and Pueblo East advanced to the state tournament from the region.
Unified bowling became a sanctioned sport under the Colorado High School Athletics Association in 2019, with play beginning during the 2020-2021 season. It is in partnership with Special Olympics Colorado and pairs students with and without intellectual disabilities.
“Students with intellectual disabilities are classified as Special Olympics Athletes;” a presentation shared with the school board in November further explains, “and students without intellectual disabilities are classified as Unified Partners.”
This year’s squad comprises unified athletes Reece Hammer, Aidan Grimes, Nick Voelker and Dalton Walls, with Jared Smith being the team’s unified partner.
The team is coached by Figaro and Ben Vaughan.