The annual AYF-YOARF Midwest Junior Olympics took place from July 12-14 in Granite City, Ill. The host chapter, the Granite City “Antranigs,” welcomed athletes and guests from Chicago, Racine, and Detroit for a weekend full of athletic competition and fraternal spirit.
The weekend started when families arrived to the DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville, Ill. Parents and other adults were greeted with an alumni reception in the hotel lobby while the Senior AYF members accompanied the Junior athletes to Gateway Fun Park down the road. There, the AYFers enjoyed a round of mini golf and arcade games on a beautiful night.
Saturday’s games were held at the Edwardsville High School track in Edwardsville, Ill. Although less than 40 Juniors competed this year, all of them had a wonderful time running, jumping, and competing. The games took up half the day with field events like the baseball throw, shot put, and long jump, and running events that drew in proud parents and supporters.
Concession stands were open all day and the opening ceremonies allowed all four chapters to wave to the cheering crowd as they held their chapter banners. The ceremony was brief but included an opening prayer and members of the local ARF, ARS and AYF saying a few words to welcome the families to southern Illinois.
Following the games, everyone parted for dinner and a pool party at the hotel before the Saturday night dance. About 200 people came to the dance at St. Gregory Armenian Community Center in Granite City for a night of great music, dancing, and food. The “Hye Vibes” from Chicago played all night and got the crowd dancing enthusiastically. Local AYF parents and volunteers put together a fantastic mezze table—a staple at all Granite City dances—that was enjoyed by all.
The results from the competition were announced at the dance, starting with the weekend’s high scorers. In the younger girls (10-13 years old) category, Lauren Billeh from Chicago and Melanie Sarafian from Detroit won trophies. In the younger boys category, Tavit Hardy from Chicago won high-scorer. With both scoring 15 points, the winner for older girls (14-16 years old) was Violette Dekirmenjian from Chicago, and for older boys, Alek Surenian from Chicago.
The chapter results were announced last: Racine came in 4th place with 18 points, Detroit in 3rd place with 34 points, Granite City in 2nd place with 43 points, and Chicago in 1st with a whopping 169 points.
Each chapter then danced their chapter dance, and the crowd was very generous with their donations. The night was the perfect cap to a successful, intimate weekend. It was the first time the games were brought back to Granite City in at least six years.
The Granite City “Antranig” Chapter would like to thank all of the athletes and families for traveling to participate in the weekend. We’d also like to thank our Granite City community and chapter for turning out in a big way all weekend!