For the last two weeks, St. George, Utah, has played host to the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association’s 2013 Red Rock and Ringers World Championships — which is proving to be one of the most exciting and record-breaking events in the 103 year history of the event.
Seventeen-time world champion, Alan Francis set a new record for men’s championship ringer percentage, posting a 91.23 percent overall average. Two perfect games, one in each of the first two days of championship play helped him accomplish that feat.
Records have been set in the women’s division, as well, with 6-time women’s world champion, Joan Elmore posting the first ever perfect game in women’s championship competition.
With only three matches left in the competition, no less than four of the top women were tied for the title position. Round 13 pitted two sets of those four women against each other, narrowing the leaders to only two, when Tennessee’s Joan Elmore beat Indiana’s Sue Snyder and Cindy Hoffman (Pennsylvania), defeated Debra Brown (Vermont). The two remaining leaders met each other in the very next match, narrowing the field to one leader — tied at 37, Elmore threw one ringer and a miss on the last pitch and was topped by two ringers by Hoffman, giving her the sole lead going into the final round.
Hoffman’s last match was against seven-time women’s world champion, Sue Snyder. A loss to Snyder would force a playoff between the winner of the match between reigning champion, Joan Elmore and contender, Debra Brown. The match came down to the wire with both players sitting on 36 before the last pitch. In a rare occurrence, Snyder missed with both shoes, leaving the door open for Hoffman to take the win. In the form of a true champion, Cindy Hoffman pitched two perfect ringers for the game and the title of 2013 NHPA Women’s World Horseshoe Pitching Champion — her first ever.
Hoffman posted a final overall ringer percentage of 69.63.
On the men’s side, champion, Alan Francis and 3-time World Champion, Brian Simmons, appeared to be the ones to watch, as they neared the final rounds being the only undefeated players, slated to meet each other in the final match of the day.
Brian had a scare in the 13th match when he came up against Ohio’s Jim Walters. In a game to 40-points, Walters had the lead at 38-36. Brian earned first pitch and threw two ringers, making it imperative for Walters to top at least one to keep the game alive. He did just that with his first pitch – the second pitch slammed onto the stake and the worst that could happen for Walter, did. That final shoe bounced off the stake, taking his first ringer with it, giving Brian six points and the win.
The final match in the men’s championship round pitted undefeated, defending champion, Alan Francis, against undefeated 3-time world champion, Brian Simmons. Simmons had been posting a championship round ringer percentage over 80 percent, but that was no match for Francis’ 90-plus tournament average.
Alan prevailed in the final game with a score of 42-7 and 93.94 percent, earning his 18th Men’s World Championship.
Defending elder world champion, Rich Pintor (Colorado), was sitting in a good position going into the last day of championship play, with only one loss. Then he came up against the stiff competition of Ed Arionus and Herschel Walters — both former world champions — and Missouri’s Gregg Craven. Going into the last two rounds of the day four men in that division were tied at 9 wins, 4 losses, Russ Phillips (Washington); Ed Arionus (Texas); Pintor and Craven — with two of them (Pintor and Phillips) going head to head in round 14. With Pintor defeating Phillips and Craven losing his match, two men — Pintor and Arionus — were left holding the lead. A win by both in the final game sent the division into a one-game playoff.
Both men posted ringer averages over 70 percent for the championship round – Arionus had 73.76, while Pintor pitched 72.47.
Defending champ Pintor had stiff competition in the playoff round against 4-time Elder World Champion, Arionus. Arionus took the win on the last pitch by covering Pintor’s ringer and edging out a single point by leaning one against the stake for a final score of 40-31 and his fifth World Championship in the Elder Division.