Local athletes compete in Special Olympics Bocce Ball Tournament
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EAST JACKSON — High school athletes from across West Tennessee competed Thursday in a Special Olympics Bocce Ball Tournament in Jackson. Fans cheered on athletes at Jackson-Central Merry High School. Fourteen teams from around West Tennessee competed in the tournament. “You have to roll that ball close enough to get to the white flag to win,” Tyler Akin, an athlete, said. Akin traveled from Selmer. He is one of more than 60 athletes organizers said come to win. “Yes, we practiced all week,” Akin said. Participants said the tournament is fun but that the sport can be difficult. “It’s just hard,” Holt McFarland, an athlete, said. “It’s just challenging for us.” Organizers said more than 50 volunteers from different businesses, churches and civic organizations also came out Thursday. “The kids are wonderful,” Christopher Downen, a volunteer, said. “They’re some of the sweetest people on Earth.” Organizers said the athletes also got to interact with traditional students. “It helps them to feel like they’re part of the regular community,” Frank Romeo, tournament and volunteer coordinator, said. Romeo said teams are divided into three divisions and ranked from first to fifth place, but each athlete receives a ribbon. “I like doing this, and it’s fun,” Akin said. Students from Madison County and McNairy County participated in the tournament.