ST. GEORGE — The Utah Summer Games wrapped up Saturday night with a lot of gold medals (and silver and bronze) going out to competitors and teams from around the state of Utah.
Just in the track and field events alone, hundreds of medals were awarded, but medals also went out Saturday in Ultimate Frisbee, adult basketball, 3-on-3 soccer, Tae Kwon Do, archery, trap shooting, arm wrestling, table tennis, baseball, equestrian, and cycling. USG director Casey McLellan said it was a special year for the Games.
“Things are great — 2016 was magical in a lot of ways,” he said. “Logistically, we feel like everything went very smoothly this year. Everything was well-organized and the athletes had a great experience and that’s what it’s all about for us.”
McLellan cited swimming as one of the fastest growing sports at the Utah Summer Games.
“Swimming is really gaining popularity,” he said. “We had a young man from Hurricane (Ryan Bunn) who won 12 gold medals and in 11 of those, he set new Summer Games records. Basketball is getting bigger, too. The high school basketball tournament this year was the biggest we’ve ever had.”
Two sports that fly under the radar, but also had good participation in 2016, were Tae Kwon Do and Ultimate Frisbee. Erin Call, from Springville, said she looks forward to the Utah Summer Games every year.
“I was bullied when I was younger, so I asked my parents about trying martial arts,” said Call, who won gold in sparring and forms at the Tae Kwon Do event at Canyon View High School. “A couple of my friends from my ward were into it, so I went with them. I’ve made so many friends doing this and I’ve gained so much more respect for myself and for other people. Our team (Omega Martial Arts) comes down here to Cedar City every year and I love it.”
Call, who is 16-years-old and goes to Springville High School, said the competition is great, but the camaraderie is what really makes the Utah Summer Games so fun.
As for Ultimate Frisbee, the 21 teams that participated hailed from as far away as Rexburg, Ida., to as close as a CV Falcons team. The event was staged at Canyon View High School and there were three divisions — youth mixed (co-ed), adult mixed and men’s. The matches were intense, especially under the bright sun in north Cedar City.
Over at the Centrum, the adult basketball event was whittling its way down to its championship games. Washington City resident Mike Shaw, 32, who played on the “Jazz” team with his brothers and his 57-year-old father, said the level of competition was at a high level.
“We just lost in the semifinals in overtime, but there are some really good teams and players here,” he said. “There were a few college teams here, so that’s always fun running around with the young guys. It’s just a lot of fun playing with my dad and brothers and it’s kind of become a tradition now for us.”
Shaw, who played for Dixie State a decade ago, said his team lost to a team of current Dixie State players. There were four divisions for adult basketball: men’s non-collegiate, men’s open, women’s open and women’s 25-plus, with 37 total teams.
McLellan said the games are healthier than ever, especially with the addition of new title sponsor Larry H. Miller.
“We’re really looking forward to penetrating the Wasatch Front,” he said. “With the new logo, I think people up there are going to start realizing what a significant event this is. Southern Utah understands what we do, but as we go north, I don’t think they really realize what great things we have going on here in Cedar City. We’re really looking forward to doing all we can to market the Wasatch Front.”
The 32nd iteration of the Utah Summer Games begin Jun. 5, 2017.
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