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West Monroe Teen Will Carry Louisiana Flag At National Games

Congressman Ralph Abraham posses with Tanner Bentz (white shirt) and the Bentz family, Tiffanie, Nolan and Randy.

Good Hope Middle School student Tanner Bentz will be Louisiana’s flag bearer at the 2017 State Games of America.

The State Games of America is an Olympic-style event held every odd year that features competition among medal winners from individual state games. Bentz, 12, earned the opportunity to compete at the national event this year in Grand Rapids, Mich., after winning a gold medal in 5k Cross Country at the State Games of Louisiana at the University of Louisiana - Monroe last fall.

Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, who is an avid long-distance runner himself, served a character witness and wrote a letter of support for Bentz’s bid to be the state’s flag bearer at the national opening ceremonies. In the letter, Dr. Abraham praised Bentz for his diligence, commitment and perseverance to his training routine and efforts to achieve his goals.

“It takes involvement from our youth today to push forward and be positive examples for teammates and members of other teams,” Dr. Abraham wrote. “The opportunity for Tanner to compete will help build his character, and he’ll experience what it takes to be a team player and an encouragement to his fellow competitors.”

Bentz will run at 5 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, Aug. 3. The Opening Ceremonies will be at 6:30 p.m. Central Time on Friday, Aug. 4, at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. He has been training for the race in Kiroli Park.

“Our state flag says Union, Justice, Confidence and I think the mother pelican feeding her babies represents generosity,” Bentz wrote. “I will represent Louisiana well and will keep union, justice, confidence and generosity on my mind and in my heart while I am in Michigan.”

Bentz also runs on Good Hope Middle School’s cross country team where he has been successful, winning four races and placing in two others.