Like an explosive tennis service ace, a bat making solid contact with a hardball, or a well-timed left hook to the body, a properly thrown ringer is a satisfying achievement.
The happy blend of mind and body coordinating into a graceful toss with the exact intention of the pitcher in its flight and landing is a simple joy to behold and an even greater one to perform.
Ten teams gathered in the early morning at the Archuleta County fairgrounds to test themselves, to renew old friendships and establish new ones, and to exert their best effort at becoming the No. 1 team. The double elimination format allowed for only one loss but guaranteed at least two games. Defending champions James Torrez and Dennis Whedbee of Bloomfield were the pre-tournament favorites, but several other strong teams were determined to upset them.
As to script, Torrez and Whedbee won the winner’s bracket and only had to defeat the winner of the loser’s bracket one game out of two to claim the championship. But the Dulce team of Eudane Vicente and Coon Reval had a different reading of the script. After defeating James and Dennis in the first game, the stage was set for the winner-take-all final. The game was a powerful demonstration of superior horseshoe pitching by both teams. Vicenti and Reval outlasted Torrez and Whedbee to claim the title. State ranked National Horseshoe Pitching Association members and newcomers to this tournament, Allen and Sherrill Baptist of Pueblo took third.
With 25 participants in the singles event, a single elimination format was a necessity that left no room for an off performance. From the opening bell, one had to be on his game.
Whedbee pitched with the intensity of a man who knew to let up was unacceptable. His determination and psychic energy carried him to the top of his game. Taking full advantage of any weakness in his opponent, he chopped them down one after the other, to emerge as this year’s champion. Thirteen-year-old Eli Harry of Farmington may be small in stature, but proved a giant to his competitors by taking second place. And Baptist, throwing a lofty one and three-quarter turn shoe that encircled the stake as if by magic, surprised everyone including himself. He brought his game to a high level and rightfully earned third place.
On a final personal note, this year’s tournament had the highest level and number of competitive horseshoe pitchers than any previous one. The sportsmanship, camaraderie, and intensity exhibited by all made Saturday, Aug. 6, a most pleasant and enjoyable day.