The Edmond Sun

June 7, 2013

Athletes push hard in competitions

Endeavor Games kick off on UCO’s campus

Scott Wanish
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — In the UCO Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilites Friday afternoon, powerlifter Kelsey Haase had control of the barbell in the bench press.

Arms cocked, weight ascending, but she just couldn’t quite straighten out her arms.

Haase, 20, out of Lake Forest, Ill., had one more shot at 125 pounds in the 62-kilo weight class.

Again, Haase had a chokehold on the barbell, but the elbows gave out and the poundage never made it to the top of the rack.

“It just wasn’t going up,” Haase stated.

“When I was 11 or 12, coaches told me I should be a weightlifter,” she said, despite being born with spina bifida. “Now, I want to get to the Paralympics in 2016 (in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).”

Though Haase’s day wasn’t Friday, her coach Dianna Lewis believes she can make it.

“Next year, we expect to do a lot better,” Lewis stated. “We’ve had trouble finding benches for her. We tried putting two together, but then it was too wide and she couldn't bend her arms back.”

Lewis has coached Haase for the past 4 1/2 years and has seen Haase throw up 155 pounds, which would be highly competitive in the Paralympics.

Last year in the National Junior Disabilities Meet in Mesa, Ariz., Haase set the national record with a 136-pound press in her class.

Archers hit the mark at Endeavor Games clinic

They might not stand on an international podium adorning a gold medal like USA Paralympic archer Jeff Fabry, but bull’s eyes were being struck consistently at Thursday morning’s archery clinic by Sean Stephenson and Kevin Messner, a pair of University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games clinic participants and someday Team USA Paralympic archery hopefuls.

“I absolutely love it,” said Stephenson, a competitive 45-year-old archer from Portland, Ore. “After having an injury, it is a great opportunity to get up out of the chair and out of the house to compete.”

Stephenson, who has a knee replacement, two herniated discs and an injured neck stemming from 27 years in the military, most recently Afghanistan, was not only hitting the bull’s eye, but actually shooting around his arrows within the yellow marking.

“I’ve come a long way with my shooting,” said Stephenson, who has been shooting competitively for eight months and was lighting up the target at Thursday’s clinic. “But, in competition, it could be a whole different animal.”

Archery competition with a compound bow for the UCO Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities begins at 9 a.m. today at the Central Oklahoma soccer practice fields, directly north of Wantland Stadium. Recurve bow shooting will follow at 1 p.m.

“He makes it look easy,” 13-year-old Messner said of Stephenson’s exactitude.

Messner himself showed to be a marksman and has been competing with his bow and arrow for seven years. He has a prosthesis for his lower right leg and came out from Phoenix, Ariz., to also battle in swimming and track.

“It’s fun,” Stephenson said. “I’m getting great coaching. I’m getting training you can’t get anywhere else.”

Stephenson made it as an alternate for the Warrior Games — an archery competition between the armed forces including the Coast Guard and some British competitors — held recently in Colorado Springs.

“The clinics are for competitive archers warming up or someone may want to come down from powerlifting and experiment with archery,” said USA paralympic archery head coach Randi Smith. “Our team has been to Italy, China and in London in 2012, we picked up a gold and a silver medal.”

Fabry, from Tulare, Calif., struck gold with a compound bow and Matt Stutzman, born in Kansas City without any arms, nabbed a silver with a compound. Compound bow distance is 50 meters with a smaller target than a recurve. Recurve competitors fire from 70 meters out.

Now in its 14th year, the UCO Endeavor Games is a nationally recognized multi-sport, multi-disability event for athletes of all ages. Competition will wrap up Sunday.

The UCO Endeavor Games is sponsored by U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee. UCO is an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site.

TO REGISTER for participation, volunteer or view a schedule of this year’s UCO Endeavor Games, visit