FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — The full group of Special Olympics Southern California swimmers made up the bulk of the schedule Friday, the final day of competition at the 2018 USA Games.
Team SOSC’s 4×100-meter relay team closed out the Games in breathtaking fashion, jumping from fourth to second place in the final leg to win a silver medal at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
Jonathan Pierce anchored the group, which also featured Steven Espinoza, Christina Principe and Lisa Koskovich. The latter three swimmers kept gold-medalists Indiana within striking distance, and Johnny powered his way through the pool upon entry immediately.
The team was in fourth place prior to his swim, and within the first lap he moved the team into third. Jonny’s performance was nearly enough to make up the entire gap, as Team SOSC clocked in at 5:04.31 — a little more than 2 seconds shy of Indiana.
Team SOSC coach Leslie Runnels-Stover knew the strength of her swimmers would be enough to put up a competitive time, but nothing is certain.
“I knew we could be in the race,” she said. “For Jonny to dive in and come from fourth place to second is amazing.”
Lisa had a pretty great view of the finish, as she and the rest of the team watched in amazement.
“He’s like lightning in the water!” Lisa said of Jonny’s contribution.
Team SOSC captured one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the 50-meter backstroke.
Kiana Yep topped the female’s Division 1, finishing in 2:18.51, while Nicolette Jones finished second in Division 2 with a time of 1:16.78.
Ethan Tran and Dawn Albritton finished third in both the men’s and women’s Division 8 races, respectively. Ethan clocked in at 49.31 seconds and Dawn finished in 46.96 seconds.
Steven Espinoza (44.51 seconds) and Nicholas Laguna (51.22 seconds) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the same 50-meter backstroke Division 7 race. Steven finished just .03 shy of the bronze medal.
Dawn and Nicolette were summoned back into the pool, with less than 20 minutes to get set for the 25-meter breaststroke.
Regardless, Dawn added a silver medal to her day, finishing in 33.33 seconds. Nicolette, however, drew a disqualification.
“I was just relieved that I got through it,” said Dawn, who admitted she had early doubts before jumping into her lane.
As a team, each swimmer won at least two medals this week.
“You never know what you’re going to get, and then you get surprised because they just bring it,” coach Runnels-Stover said.
Athletics (Track and Field)
Brett Laza finished sixth in the high-performance 100-meter run with a time of 12.62 seconds, which topped his qualifying time in the semifinal. The hotly contested race had finishers first through sixth separated by just 0.69 seconds.
He qualified for the event by posting a time of 12.93 seconds on the opening day.
Brett, a driven competitor, came to USA Games and pinpointed certain events on his radar. He will leave Seattle knowing he at least achieved his ultimate goal: winning the 200-meter run on Tuesday.
“The 200 (gold medal) was the one I really wanted,” he said earlier in the week.
In the 1,500-meter race, Sarah Kovacs won the silver with a time of 6:09.55. Robert Waters placed fifth and came in at 9:31.68.
In the bronze medal game, Team SOSC rose to the occasion for a 23-22 win over Arizona at Marv Harshman Court.
Heidi Sand took the bronze after dropping her final match against Brittany Tagliareni, 2-0.