Penn State DuBois hosts bocce regional championship

Bocce team from Saint Marys gathered at the Lion Shrine on the campus of Penn State DuBois

Bocce team from Saint Marys gathered at the Lion Shrine on the campus of Penn State DuBois

Credit: Penn State

DuBOIS, Pa. – Student bocce players from around the region recently gathered at the PAW Center on the campus of Penn State DuBois to compete in the interscholastic unified sports bocce regional championship. Eight teams from several area schools competed for state qualification spots that were up for grabs for the top two teams.

Organized by the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, the unified sports bocce championship is one of many unified sports that the Special Olympics offers today.

Unified sports combine approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities, who are called partners, on sports teams for training and competition. This creates an opportunity for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities. Not only do the players all have fun, but attitudes change and transformation happens on the playing field and the experiences create lifelong friendships.

Bocce was first played in the 18th century in Italy and has developed into a global game since that time. The game is played on many different surfaces, including natural soil and asphalt courts, with the playing area defined by court walls, which were outlined by plastic piping at the PAW Center.

For this event, games were played between two teams and each game was started with a coin flip to determine the turn order and which team would be represented by which color bocce balls. Then, the first team starts by throwing a smaller ball, often called the jack, boccino or little bocce, to mark the point where both teams are going to attempt to get closest to. Each team is then given the opportunity to throw one bocce, attempting to get as close to the smaller ball as possible. After the two initial throws, the team that is further away continues to throw one ball at a time to try and get closer than their opponents have. This continues on until both teams have thrown their four balls in each round. Score is then calculated by the team that has the closest ball to the smaller ball, add one point for each extra ball they have inside of their opponent’s closest bocce ball.

For this regional championship tournament, a time limit and points limit were in place, with a team winning if they reached the points limit before time ran out, or the team that was ahead at the end of the time limit was declared the winner.

Coming to Penn State DuBois to take part in the event were teams from Bedford, Canton, Clearfield, Harbor Creek, North Penn-Mansfield, Penn Cambria, Saint Marys and Tussey Mountain.

Three courts were set up on the PAW Center floor for the eight teams that were in attendance. While the teams were competing for the spots in the state championship tournament, the ultimate goal was for everyone to have fun. That goal was achieved, not only by the players and coaches, but also by the officials, volunteers, and fans in attendance.

Speaking of fans, the PAW Center was packed with fans for all the teams, showing their support on every throw. This included a full student fan bus that came to the campus from Saint Marys. Students worked with the school administration to arrange for the fan bus so they could come and support their fellow student athletes at this championship event.

As the games and the tournament progressed, the teams vying for the regional championship and gold medals came down to Harbor Creek and Saint Marys. Both teams won their first two games of the day to not only secure their spot in the championship match, but also their spots in the upcoming state championship tournament.

The championship match that followed was one for the ages, as both teams went back and forth, capturing, losing and recapturing the lead. It was a highly competitive match that kept fans on the edge of their seats if they could bear to sit down at all from the excitement. When the final bocce had been rolled, Saint Marys came out victorious, winning the regional championship.

Each team in the tournament received prizes for the place they finished in. The team placements and team members were as follows:

The eighth-place team was Bedford consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Zoey Bottenfield
  • Conner Cornell
  • Jesse Johnson
  • Raegan May
  • Justin Mortimore
  • Kylie Predix
  • Caleb Shrout
  • Coach Kelly Becker

The seventh-place team was Tussey Mountain consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Courtney Aller
  • Kyler Coffman
  • Joslynn Jays
  • Landon Jays
  • Jabin McGraw
  • Jordyn Raycroft
  • Xavier Ricchiuti
  • Isaiah Sosak
  • Coach Melissa Madzy
  • Coach Jessica McCraw

The sixth-place team was Clearfield consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Seth Jordan
  • Scarlett LeBeau
  • Avelynn McKendrick
  • Lee Ogden
  • Faith Owens
  • Cody Taylor
  • Jaycee Wood
  • Coach Jessica Komonczi
  • Coach Barb Spila

The fifth-place team was Penn Cambria consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Douglas Brown
  • Kyle Conrad
  • Kayla Gallovich
  • Kayden McMullen
  • Kaylee Mento
  • Wyatt Moreland
  • Emme Myers
  • Sophia Rabatin
  • Coach Joshua Watt
  • Coach Natalie Watt

The fourth-place team was North Penn-Mansfield consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Jeanna Conrad
  • Ryane Day
  • Alexia Kshir
  • Saige Lehman
  • Rylie Smith
  • Megan Spohn
  • Nel Stubblefield
  • Rose Young
  • Coach Jason Dominic
  • Coach Mary Homan

The thrid-place team was Canton consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Tyson Bedford
  • Blake Jackson
  • Adriane Katona
  • Ellick Smith
  • Bailey Swartzlander
  • Searesha Ward
  • Morgan Wesneski
  • Reed Urban
  • Coach Caitlin Barr
  • Coach Maureen Martz

The second-place team was Harbor Creek consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Amelya Bretz
  • Owen Drabic
  • Octavia Garnic
  • Emanuella Grandinetti
  • Joseph Hulse
  • Ayden Miller
  • Anthony Nguyen
  • Abigail Vollant
  • Coach Dave Hess
  • Coach Katie Teed

The first-place team was Saint Marys consisting of team members (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Patrick Blessel
  • Jesse Greishaw
  • Kara Hanslovan
  • Vincent Lenze
  • Elijah Rippey
  • Wyatt Saline
  • Giovanni Saraceno
  • Gianna Surra
  • Coach Mollie Anzinger
  • Coach Jamie Caskey
  • Coach Harley Ramsey
  • Coach Samantha Zimmerman

With their first and second place finishes, Saint Marys and Harbor Creek will advance to the state championship tournament in Hershey.