Sunflower State Games kick off with record participation

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The 29th annual Sunflower State Games have officially begun, this year featuring 51 sports for Kansas athletes to compete in.

High jump athletes wait for the start of the eight and under category to being. (Nicole Feyh/WIBW Sports)

This weekend features 26 of the 51 at various venues across Topeka.

"We're super excited to kick off the 29th annual Sunflower State Games," said Mitch Gross, director of the Sunflower State Games. "We've been planning this event since last October so a big culmination for a lot of people."

According to Gross, nearly 7,500 athletes are competing in this year's events. The organization announced in April of this year it was five new sports, including boxing, dodgeball, muzzleloading, ultimate and weightlifting.

"We've already set participation records in several of our sports, including track and field with a record 545 participants," Gross said. "We ended up with about 290 people competing in our Jiu Jitsu event, which is far and away a record."

The events will feature competitors of all ages, shapes and sizes.

"This is my first time," said Sophia Schwartzkopf, an 11-year old track and field athlete. "I just like to run. It's just fun."

Shawn Dolezilek has been competing in the games since 2001, give or take a few for big life events.

"I think it's a great series of competitions for the state and for the individuals in the state to remain fit," Dolezilek said.

The Sunflower State Games will go until July 29, and a complete schedule of events and times can be found at www.sunflowergames.com.