Grand Island Public Schools
123 South Webb Road
Grand Island, NE 68802
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GISH Unified Track athletes to compete at state

The Islander Unified Track athletes have pressed on throughout the season, and it’s paying off.

The Grand Island Senior High Unified Track and Field athletes qualified for state this year, which is held May 19 at Omaha Burke. The 4x100M Relay team of Henry Barreno Florian, Haden Johnson, Marco Jimenez, and Anthony Salazar, along with the 100M Dash pair of Marco Jimenez & Anthony Salazar will compete at the 2022 state championships.

The NSAA (Nebraska State Activities Association) sanctioned Unified Track & Field three years ago. There are three events in Unified Track & Field: the 4x100M Relay, 100M Dash, and the Long Jump. When participating in these events, the coaches pair one athlete with one mentor and the times/distances are combined. Unified Track and Field has the flexibility to do same gender or coed for the pairs in each event. The NSAA takes the top eight best times and distances to qualify for the state meet. There are 52 Unified Track & Field teams, so this is a big accomplishment for the Islanders!

"Unified Track and Field has been an amazing opportunity for students with and without disabilities to be part of a team as one,” said co-coaches Molly Elge and Andrea Hill. “The brightest part of our day is watching the athletes and partners build strong relationships with each other. Unified Sports also brings us so much joy as we watch athletes and partners participating in a sport and the comradery that develops between them."

The Islanders piloted the Unified Track & Field season in 2019, then had no season in Spring 2020 due to the pandemic. In Spring 2021, the 4x100M Relay team made it to state.

"Molly and I have been the dynamic duo building the Grand Island Senior High Unified Track & Field Team the past four years,” said co-coach Andrea Hill. “We have brought such positive exposure of Unified Sports to the Grand Island Community, who have been an amazing support to our team this season. It has been a joy to be a trusting adult in each one of our athletes. We are their biggest fans!"

Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that unites athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and mentors (individuals without intellectual disabilities) as teammates for training and competition. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

Unified sports provide meaningful and real sport experience. Not all students in the building will make a varsity team. Unified Sports makes it possible for more students to have an opportunity to participate in this meaningful activity. It also provides Social Inclusion, which impacts the entire school climate in a positive way, promoting respect, acceptance and diversity.

Unified sports help reduce bullying through empowerment, awareness and engagement. It also improves health and fitness, especially for students with disabilities facing higher risks.

Congratulations and good luck to the student athletes who are competing!


Media Inquiries
Mitchell Roush , Marketing & Communications
308-385-5900 ex. 201127