Sports

Local seniors compete in annual Washington State Senior Games

VIDEO: 2016 Washington State Senior Games

The Washington State Senior Games celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. The games include 24 different sports for seniors ages 50 and older to compete in. The track and field portion of the events were Saturday, July 23, 2016 at Tumwater Hig
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The Washington State Senior Games celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. The games include 24 different sports for seniors ages 50 and older to compete in. The track and field portion of the events were Saturday, July 23, 2016 at Tumwater Hig

George Rowswell said he competes in the Washington State Senior Games because he likes to see the people — and he’s seen a lot of them in his lifetime.

At 99 years old, Rowswell — an Olympia resident and former coach of multiple sports at North Thurston High School — is the oldest competitor participating in the games, which celebrate their 20th anniversary this year.

Rowswell said he’s competed many of those years, and on Saturday, he was recognized by the crowd at Tumwater High School as he carried the ceremonial torch to kick off the track and field portion of the games Tumwater District Stadium.

Nearly 2,000 seniors ages 50 and older will compete in 24 sports during the games, which began June 26 and run until Aug. 7. Many athletes will also qualify for the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2017.

Rowswell is a qualifier. Rolled down the track in his wheelchair by his grandson, Andrew, the announcer likened Rowswell to the Energizer Bunny.

“I started quite young and just continued right on through,” Rowswell said.

He won a gold medal in his age bracket in the shot put with one throw of 3 feet, 9 inches. Despite being confined to his wheelchair, Rowswell still lifts 10- to 20-pound weights over his head 200 times per day.

“It is in his genes not to stop,” said Deborah Liming, Rowswell’s youngest daughter. “It’s inborn in all of us with the Rowswell gene — we don’t stop. That’s Daddy. He won’t stop until he does.”

Rowswell raised his eyebrows.

“That’s probably right,” he agreed.

The sentiment seems to be shared between most of the competitors — from those competing for the first time, to others who have been regulars since the games’ inception.

Lacey residents Lisbeth Naber, 88, and her husband David, 86, helped begin the games in 1996.

“It is really fun to compete,” said Lisbeth, who won gold in her division in the shot put, discus and 1,500-meter race walk.

“Everybody’s friendly here. Everybody helps each other,” added David, who also won a gold medal in the shot put.

Competing in the games for the first time, 51-year-old Olympia resident Nona Snell won her division in the 5,000-meter road race.

“This is a great event. I love this,” said Snell, who is also the race director for the Capital City Marathon.

She was one of many locals who took home at least one medal — the games are primarily based in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. Dan McGuinn, 62, the pole vault coach for Black Hills and Tumwater high schools, tied for first in his division in that event.

“There’s an awful lot of us that still like to compete — whatever level — we just like to play,” he said. “... There’s a lot of people that come out here to participate just to show that there’s still that excitement in living, and that’s what I like about it.”

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12

Local medalists

Celebrating its 20th year, the Washington State Senior Games runs between June 26 and Aug. 7 at sites throughout the South Sound — primarily Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. Nearly 2,000 competitors ages 50 and older are projected to participate. The top three finishers in each event are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. The top four finishers — and others that meet performance standards — in most events also qualify for the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama, which takes place June 2-17 in 2017.

Men

NAME

CITY

AGE BRACKET

EVENT

MEDAL

DATE

Rollie G. Geppert

Olympia

70-74

Archery (Barebow recurve)

Gold

July 9

Larry D. Ramsey

Chehalis

75-79

Archery (Compound fingers)

Gold

July 9

Walter Dohring

Rainier

65-69

Archery (Compound release)

Bronze

July 9

Paso Tom

Rainier

60-64

Cowboy Action Shooting (B-Western)

Gold

July 10

Willy Hitum

Olympia

60-64

Cowboy Action Shooting (Duelist)

Gold

July 10

R & R

Olympia

55-59

Cowboy Action Shooting (Traditional)

Silver

July 10

Bulls Eye Pete

Olympia

80-84

Cowboy Action Shooting (Traditional)

Silver

July 10

Tom St. Clair

Tumwater

50-54

Triathlon

Silver

June 26

Ryan Howell

Olympia

55-59

Triathlon

Gold

June 26

Gene Vey

Olympia

55-59

Triathlon

Bronze

June 26

Michael Falette

Olympia

60-64

Triathlon

Silver

June 26

Mark Bauer

Olympia

65-69

Triathlon

Bronze

June 26

Dennis J. Niles

Olympia

70-74

Triathlon

Gold

June 26

Pete Bisson

Olympia

70-74

Triathlon

Silver

June 26

Women

NAME

CITY

AGE BRACKET

EVENT

MEDAL

DATE

Dalton’s Darlin

Olympia

65-69

Cowboy Action Shooting (B-Western)

Gold

July 10

Normalee I. Hitum

Olympia

55-59

Cowboy Action Shooting (Traditional)

Silver

July 10

Linda Johnson

Rainier

50-54

Triathlon

Silver

June 26

Jean Fisher

Olympia

55-59

Triathlon

Gold

June 26

Cindy Medlin

Olympia

55-59

Triathlon

Bronze

June 26

Leslie Owen

Olympia

60-64

Triathlon

Gold

June 26

Coed

NAMES

CITY

AGE BRACKET

EVENT

MEDAL

DATE

Evelyn J. Bieber/Rhett Powers

Lakewood/Olympia

60-69

Dance (Bolero)

Gold

July 9

Colleen D. Champlin/David R. Polivka

Olympia/Lacey

50-59

Dance (Cha Cha)

Gold

July 9

Elizabeth G. Robinson/Rhett Powers

Olympia/Olympia

50-59

Dance (Cha Cha)

Silver

July 9

E. Bieber/R. Powers

Lakewood/Olympia

60-69

Dance (Cha Cha)

Gold

July 9

Nancy J. Moss/William C. Barber

Lacey/Kent

70-79

Dance (Cha Cha)

Gold

July 9

Jim H. Bieber/Shona Powers

Lakewood/Olympia

70-79

Dance (Cha Cha)

Gold

July 9

Champlin/Polivka

Olympia/Lacey

50-59

Dance (East Coast Swing)

Gold

July 9

Robinson/Powers

Olympia/Olympia

50-59

Dance (East Coast Swing)

Gold

July 9

Rebecca L. Magnoni/John H. Yantis

Olympia/Seattle

60-69

Dance (East Coast Swing)

Gold

July 9

Frances M. Melszer/David W. Lynch

Tumwater/Olympia

70-79

Dance (East Coast Swing)

Gold

July 9

J. Bieber/S. Powers

Lakewood/Olympia

70-79

Dance (East Coast Swing)

Gold

July 9

Robinson/Powers

Olympia/Olympia

50-59

Dance (Foxtrot)

Gold

July 9

Jan Morrison/Scott Weyer

Tumwater/Hoquiam

60-69

Dance (Foxtrot)

Gold

July 9

Yantis/Magnoni

Olympia/Seattle

60-69

Dance (Foxtrot)

Gold

July 9

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