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LINCOLNTON – COVID challenges couldn’t slow down this year’s Lincoln County Senior Games competitors. Several placed in the state games and will be going on to the national games in the spring. 

“Because of COVID, this year’s local games were changed,” Missy Calloway, the program coordinator/senior games coordinator said. “We did a hybrid of in-person and virtual competition. Virtual just means participant scored and submitted online. We had just a few sports in our local games that were considered virtual. Most of our sports were held in-person but with special social guidelines. Many were done as “drop-in” events where participants would show up at a designated time for us to score them. Most were scored individually, not against live competition. We are hoping to go completely in-person with full competition in the spring.”

State games were completely virtual. Participants were given rules and guidelines for each sport and submitted their scores online. State competition was held during September with scores due at the beginning of October.

Tim Hepler has taken part of the senior games for several years now. He has placed first in the 10K Run at the state games for the past three years and will compete at the national games. He also placed third in the 5K Run.

“I’m a truck driver and I was very overweight,” he said. “It’s a very unhealthy job and the average life span for male truck drivers is 57 years. I was 56 years old, and my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and pre-hypertension. He was getting ready to put me on medication unless I did something about it. I went on the Keto Diet and lost about 80 pounds. I took up walking and running through my church’s Run for God Program. For two years, I walked it mainly and I got mad at myself, so I started running. It’s not just about weight, it’s about what you put in your body. I learned a lot about nutrition. I ran the Charlotte Marathon last month. I crossed the finish line at the same time as John Davis from Parks and Rec.”

Hepler recommends that anyone who’s thinking about starting to run to just get off the couch and start walking because you’ve got to walk before you can run.

The oldest female competing at the state games, Dorothy Swart is 82 years old. She placed first in the 5k Power Walking and second in the 1500 Meter Power Walking. Power walking is walking at a fast rate of speed without running.

“This was my first time competing at the state level,” she said. “I’ve always been active. A friend of mine did the senior games in Gaston County before Lincoln County had games so I started there. As soon as Lincoln County started, I got on board. It’s a lot of fun and I meet a lot of people. I had both knees replaced and was advised not to run which is why I started with power walking.”

The Lincoln County speed demon, Mariella Cook cleaned up at the state senior games and will be competing in the national games. She placed first in the 100 Meter Dash, and second in the 400 Meter Dash, the 800 Meter Run and the 1500 Meter Run.

“I’ve been doing the North Carolina state games for about 15 years,” she said. “Before that when I lived in Tennessee, I participated as well. I just turned 70 so I’m now in a new age group which is exciting. I’ve been to four national competitions. A lot of the people I meet are new. I’ve been running competitively since I was 25 years old. I’m fortunate to be able to still compete. There’s something for everyone in senior games so if you’re thinking about competing, try it, but you have to listen to your body and get into it gradually. Running isn’t for everyone. I’ve met a lot of people who started running later in life and they love it. Of course, we want to win, but senior games are a friendly competition. It gives you a great feeling of accomplishment.”

In the state competition, Lincoln County seniors received the following placements:

Glenda Carter competed in bowling singles and will be competing at national games in May.

Margaret Christopher placed second in Vocal Small Group.

Cindy Clenney placed first in Discus Throw, first in Shot Put and second in Standing Long Jump.

Mariella Cook placed first in the 100 Meter Dash and will be competing at national games in May. Cook won the most medals for Lincoln County, placing second in the 400 Meter Dash, the 800 Meter Run and the 1500 Meter Run.

Donita Davis placed first in the Football Throw and third in the Softball Throw.

James Gantt placed first in the Basketball Shooting and second in Vocal Small Group.

Tim Heafner placed second in the Softball Throw. He also placed second in the Silver Arts for Painting - Oil.

Robin Heafner placed second in the Softball Throw, Basketball Shooting and Football Throw.

Timothy Hepler placed first in the 10K Run and will compete at national games. He also placed third in the 5K Run.

Dennice Herman placed first in the Cornhole.

Steve Herman placed second in the Softball Throw and the Cornhole, and third in Horseshoes.

Debra Putnam placed second in the Football Throw and in the Softball Throw, and third in Basketball Shooting.

Christopher Sanford placed second in Bowling Doubles and third in Bowling Mixed Doubles.

Terry Sanford placed first in Bowling Doubles, second in Bowling Singles, and third in Bowling Mixed Doubles

Mark Shanklin placed first in the Standing Long Jump and fourth in the 50 Meter Dash.

Ronald Singleton placed first in the 5K Race Walk and second in the 1500 Meter Race Walk

Dorothy Swart, who was the oldest female participant at 82 years old, placed first in the 5k Power Walking and second in the 1500 Meter Power Walking.

Dwight Turner was the oldest male participant and placed first in Golf.

“It’s an honor to work so closely with our senior population through Lincoln County Senior Games,” Calloway said. “Their hard work in training and competing is an inspiration. I’m so proud of each and every participant and their representation of Lincoln County on the local, state and national level.”

As everyone knows, the last couple years have been challenging for everyone, particularly our seniors, she added.  

“Senior Games has always been a way to stay healthy, both physically and mentally,” she said. “While we have had to make adjustments to our games to safely compete the past two years, including virtual competition, we are hopeful that 2022 will be a return to our normal in-person Games. Lincoln County Senior Games offers something for everyone, from quilting and painting, to pickle ball and cheerleading.  If you’re over 50, come check us out. Registration will begin March 1, 2022.”

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