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      Special Olympic athletes prepare for district action

      They had been practicing for weeks, and Saturday, U.P. Special Olympics Basketball teams are one step closer to the state district tournament in Escanaba. About a dozen teams from all over the U.P. traveled to Ishpeming this past weekend to play some ball. The games allow organizers to assign the teams into divisions for the state district tournament, February 16 and 17. Organizers say the games bring together athletes for some friendly competition.

      "Their sportsmanship is at a high level; all of our sports should be played the way they play them. Their ability...you can see them improve every year," said Tournament Director Bob Marietti.

      A tournament like this costs about $1,000 to host, and it wouldn't be possible without the generous donations of local education, business and service organization sponsors.