Huntington High School’s snowshoe Special Olympians came home from the New York State Winter Games with a collection of gold and silver medals after a series of exceptional performances in Poughkeepsie.
Andrew Oh, Liam Mrotzek, John Cronin and Brendan Cribbin were sensational in the snowshoeing events held at Thornden Park.
Mrotzek also won gold medals in the 200m dash and 400m run. Oh won gold medals in both the 100m and 200m dashes. Cronin won a gold medal in the 100m dash and a silver medal in the 200m dash. Cribbin won silver medals in the both the 200m dash and 400m run. (Some of the athletes compete in the same event, but in different divisions/age groups.) The team also won a silver medal in the 4x100m relay.
Liam Mrotzek and Brendan Cribbin take a break during the competition.
“As the day wore on and snow melted, the consistency was more like the sand we train on all year and we were totally in our element,” said Linda Costello-Roth, who coaches the Blue Devils.
The Winter Games kicked-off on Friday night with opening ceremonies in the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. The festivities included a parade of athletes, entertainment and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron.
Competition started early Saturday morning and it wasn’t long before the Huntington teammates began winning coveted medals. The Winter Games drew about 900 athletes from across New York. The athletes displayed their skills in alpine and cross country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey and snowshoe events.
At the earlier regional championships on West Mountain in Queensbury, near Lake George, the Blue Devils were also splendid. Huntington earned a silver medal in the 4x100m relay. Oh won gold medals in the 100m and 200m. Cribbin grabbed a gold medal in the 400m and a silver medal in the 200m. Mrotzek captured a gold medal in the 200m and a silver medal in the 400m. Cronin won a silver medal in the 100m and took fourth place in the 200m.
Cronin shrugged off an equipment failure in the 100m. “After getting a new pair of shoes, he was off and running again in the 200m with less than five minutes between races,” Costello-Roth said.
“Special Olympics is the largest amateur sports organization in the world,” according to the organization’s website. “With nearly 65,000 athletes, Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in North American and the sixth largest chapter in the world. Special Olympics New York athletes train and compete year-round in 22 sports.”