These athletes from Warsaw Community High School will compete for a state championship Saturday in unified track. Photo provided
These athletes from Warsaw Community High School will compete for a state championship Saturday in unified track. Photo provided
While it’s no secret Warsaw Community High School’s boys and girls track and field teams have enjoyed a lot of success once again this season, there is another group of WCHS athletes competing for a state championship at Indiana University in Bloomington this weekend.
In its inaugural season, Warsaw’s unified track and field team will compete in the state finals at Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex Saturday at 1 p.m.
The traditional girls state finals are set for today at 3:30 p.m., while the boys meet is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, folowing the unified meet.
  Unified track and field teams are made up equally of student with and without intellectual disabilities.
Warsaw’s unified team is coached by Barb Martz, Sam Smith and Rachel Hardy, and there are five events for the athletes to compete in – 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 400-meter relay, long jump and shot put.
The unified track meet is a result of the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s “Champions Together” partnership with Special Olympics Indiana.
“Back in November, we got some information from (WCHS Athletic Director) Dave Anson,” said Brenda Linky, Secondary Special Education Coordinator for Warsaw Community Schools.
“It was an initiative with the IHSAA and Special Olympics Indiana called Champions Together. We sent five students to a workshop, and that’s all we knew at the time. The kids have made this happen, and it’s been awesome.”
According to Linky, there were four guidlines that had to be followed, such as having students volunteer at least 80 hours and having a fundraiser for Special Olympics.
Linky said that wasn’t a problem at all for the WCHS students, who volunteered more than 100 hours, organized a 5K run and raised more than $1,500 for Special Olympics.
“The kids have gotten really involved,” said Linky. “That’s great to see. The kids that are intellectually challenged, they just want to be equal, so we made sure we got orange and black uniforms that say Warsaw Tigers. They know they’re competing for their school like all the other sports teams. One of the coolest experiences, I was standing in the hallway and I heard one of our athletes tell someone ‘Hey, I have a track meet tomorrow.’ They want to be like everyone else.”
Ten unified teams will compete at the state finals.
To advance to the state finals, teams had to finish among the top five at a sectional.
Warsaw hosted a unified track sectional and finished third.
Other teams competing in the unified state meet include Noblesville, West Lafayette, Bremen, East Noble, Munster, Boonville, Edgewood, Mt. Vernon and Plainfield.