Ringer Digest
Special State Tournament Issue
A Charter of the NHPA
Official Publication of the Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitchers' Association
Congratulations to our  
2017 State Champions

     Men's Champion
          Mark Smith

Women's Champion
        Janet Larson

 Elder's Champion
       Sig Armitage

    Cadet Champion
      Tyler Condon

     Junior Champion
     Colton Williams

The coveted traveling trophy
    Greenfield Horseshoe Club 
    Re-captures traveling trophy!
        " by a whisker"

      The traveling team trophy has been going on since 1996. In that 21 years, Brooklyn Park has the most wins at 6, followed by North Mankato at 5, and Greenfield and Hibbing at 4. Eight other clubs have won this trophy.
      This year's thriller was decided on the last shoe of the tournament when Greenfield player Mark Smith won the men's championship in a thrilling playoff game with Josh Olson. That win secured a 1 point victory over the Wright Club, with Isanti coming in a close 3rd.
    Congratulations to all Greenfield players for a job well done. The trophy will be proudly displayed at the Greenfield Club during their winter seasons. 
                                    2017 MGSHPA Awards

                      Al Larson
    Inducted into the MGSHPA
                  Hall of Fame

                 Sig Armitage
   Frank Stinson Top Ten Award

              Ben LaCoursiere
 Tournament Attendance Award

                Jennifer O'Neil
             Rookie of the Year

                   Cody Olson
                   Edi Holland
         Sportsmanship Award

    2017 Appreciation Awards
Bonnie Holland
Shawn Warnemunde
Catherine Ziemann
Sylvia and Marv Burgraff
Not shown: Dustin Dahl, Kayla Yeager
Junior Pitcher Of the Year
Tyler Stone

    Pitcher of the Year Winners
                     Sig Armitage,Al Woida,Henry Greenwaldt,
                                    Mel Larson, Richard Giese,  
                                   Ben LaCoursiere, Dick Dvorak 

              President's Award
      Pine City Horseshoe Club
                       Al Barclay, Jennifer O'Neil, Eric Dehkes,  
                       Jessica Dehkes, Trevor Teich 

Men's State Championship Recap          By Josh Olson
     The 2017 State tournament competition was in full swing starting on Friday September 1 st and going through Labor Day Monday the 4 th . The top 4 Men that were seeded going into Monday were Joe Mueller, Josh Olson, Mark Smith and the Defending Champion Alan Larson. The other 4 participants would be decided after the Sunday shift. Russ Girtz from Becker had set the bar for what the 8 pitchers on Sunday would have to beat to advance to Monday's Championship group. Eric Dehkes won class B and was the
1 st qualifier to make the list, followed by Shawn Warnemunde, Jerry Hokkala and Gordy Schmidt.  Gordy edged Russ out by 2 ringers to make the Championship group.

     Championship Day, Monday morning was kicked off with the national anthem and presentation of the color guard from the local American legion. Then all the competitors were introduced and then competition was underway.  Game 1 was underway, and would be kicked off with a bang, Gordy Schmidt would knock off defending champion and recently inducted Hall of Fame Member Al Larson in game one, Al wasn't having the best year for pitching shoes, he has been dealing with a back injury and it showed this weekend. Josh Olson and Mark Smith would both go 6-1 at the end of competition, Josh's one loss would come from Jerry Hokkala, and Mark's one loss would come from Josh Olson.
      So, everyone would be watching that play-off game...It was a battle, Mark and Josh were scoring back and forth, had lots of dead shoes, it came down the very end which made for a fun play-off game to watch I am sure. Josh was ahead 38-37, Josh had thrown 2 ringers, and Mark did what he had to do and put 2 ringers right on top. Mark gets to throw first, and under lots of pressure throws two perfect ringers. The building was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, Josh throws his first shoe and misses high, and everyone in the building knew it was over, Mark would be crowned the 2017 Minnesota Men's State Champion. After 12 long years of competing Mark finally won his first State Championship. Mark would take 1st place, Josh Olson would take 2nd, and Eric Dehkes would take 3rd Place, rounding out the top 3 in the Men's State Championship.  Congrats to All, and I look forward to pitching against all of you guys again next Labor Day!
                        (L-R)   Eric Dehkes,  Joe Mueller,  Al Larson,  Shawn Warnemunde,
                                Gordy Schmidt,  Josh Olson,  Mark Smith,  Jerry Hokkala
2017 Elder's Championship                by Janet Larson
     The amazing MN Hall of Famer, Sig Armitage, claimed his 5th State title with a perfect 7/0 record.  Sig said, "I got to business right away, but the last three, the highest average players, well they all got to business before I got started.  I had to come from behind.  One has to knuckle down and keep on trucking.  I learned that years ago, pitching 40' against Dale Lipovsky and Mark Bauman, when it got down to the end I would feel the pressure."         
     This was one tough group, seeded in the Elder's Class A were Sig Armitage (68.47%), Ray Volkers (66.76%), Bill Danielson (61.57%) and Henry Greenwaldt (60.46%).  The brave few that earned the privilege to pitch with them all came out of Elder's Class B.  Gene Eitreim got the #5 spot with having pitched 53.21%.  Frank Johnson claimed the #6 spot with 52.14% which was almost 6% over his average.  Phil Swenson pitched a 75% on game #7 to up his percent to 51.07% and move into the #7 spot.  Jeff Washburn won Class B, pitching 49.29% to finish off the 8 man roster. 
     Henry said he was surprised by Gene's strong start against him in the first round.  Henry would lose that that one, but go on to win the next three, throwing a 75% game against Frank, 24 ringer out of 32 shoes.  After 4 rounds Sig and Ray were undefeated, while Bill and Henry each had one loss. Gene had thrown 62.96% against Henry, then lost a game to Ray.  Game three and four, Gene had two very good battles, going 62 shoes with Bill for a 40/38 win, followed by a 64 shoe game with Sig which he lost and which was probably one of Sig's toughest games.  Bill and Ray had a good battle in game five, with Bill getting the "W"40/39 and both of them pitching 60.71%.  Ray wasn't going for the same outcome in round 6.  That game with Henry was tied at 32/32 when Ray decided to close the deal.  Those last three rounds saw a bit of a shake up as Gene would go on to win all three games, while Ray, Bill and Henry each suffered two losses.  Gene has now pitched in four State Championship tournaments.  He said "This one was the most exciting as I had a chance to be #1, but Sig is just too tough.  It is still an honor to play in the Championship Class and get 2nd."     Gene was the only one to pitch over his average and he did that by 4.64%.  He also pitched the most shoes, 382.  Ray rounded out the top three. He also had 5 wins and 2 losses, with an average that was less than 2% under Gene's.
     Both Gene and Jeff commented on the friendships and camaraderie of this sport, shaking hands, win or lose.  Jeff said, "I have known these guys a long time, we are one big family."  Henry commented that you have fun, you're visiting then you flip the shoes and get serious for a while.  After the game, you shake hands and go back to visiting.  In Henry's case there is also a lot of laughter.  Sig said, "I tell others when they throw a double, 'that was a nice pair'.  Others tell me the same thing too from time to time.  You know, we are always pitching friends."  When competing against Sig, you look for any claim to fame that you can get.  Both Henry and Phil were proud of the 75% games they pitched over the weekend, both of them noting "that was higher than any of Sig's."  For Phil and Frank, this was their first time pitching in the Championship.  Sig and Henry have each experienced it seven times.  Keep up the good work Sig!  You give the rest of us a goal, a target to shoot for.  I believe all the guys are hoping to have a chance to possibly beat you next year.  As for me, I am glad this is one tournament that I don't have to deal with you.  Congratulations to all!     
                                   (L-R)   Sig Armitage,  Ray Volkers, Bill Danielson,  Henry Greenwaldt,  
                                          Gene Eitreim,  Frank Johnson,  Phil Swenson,  Jeff Washburn  

  2017 Women's Championships                       by Tina Bussey

       The defending Champion/MN Hall of famer, Janet Larson, was able to claim top honors again this year in the women's Class A division, finishing with a 6-1 record averaging 57.27% for the day. Janet lost to familiar competitor, Sara Otto who finished 5-2 with highest overall average 57.83. Taking third in the class was newcomer, Minnie Fisher, with a 3-4 record and a 49.43% finish. 
Amongst the class there were four veterans; Janet Larson, Sara Otto, Helen Hawkinson, and Kayla Yaeger. In addition, there were three women that made their MN State Tournament debuts: Minnie Fischer, Jennifer O'Neil, and Melisa Wimmer. Rounding out the bunch was myself, Tina Bussey, not new to state tournaments, but new to women's Class A. Looking back now, it was a beautiful array of varied amounts of experience, which made for an eventful day. 
       For myself, getting a call saying, "You're invited to play in Class A was something I never foresaw. My initial thought (coming from Class C) was, "I'm not worthy of a spot, but how do you turn down an experience like that when it's something you had hoped for since the age of 13." For 24 years I had dreamed of making the top class, and this was it. It seemed there were a number of memory making moments throughout this tournament.  
Janet received top honors again, as she has for the past four years. It would appear Monday morning that her toughest competition was none other than the Runner-up in this division - Otto, whom now has five consecutive Runner-up titles. Janet graciously gave credit to her fellow competitors in taking home the title. She said, "The fact that Melisa and Minnie both had their best games against Sara, played a big part in my win." Minnie was seeded in Class A and was able to earn an impressive first time, 3rd place finish. Janet added, "Kayla and Melisa both had very good games against me. Luckily those were also my best games." Melisa Wimmer, finishing fourth, among the "new blood" in the bracket, said, "It was my first state tournament...other than pacing. I started in B class and didn't plan on making it into the championship It was intimidating and humbling...I'm more encouraged than ever after hanging in there." Kayla Yaeger came in with some Class A experience (finishing sixth) she offered up that there was, "some great competition this year," and added,, "it's always fun to pitch with ladies who value sportsmanship in addition to bringing their best to win." Jennifer O'neil (Class B move-up) was also among the "newbies." She was honored to be part of this group, saying "being able to make it into the top eight my first time ever at state and being voted Rookie of the Year" were highlights. Amongst the experience pitchers was Helen Hawkinson. Onlooker, scorekeeper, and former Women's Class A competitor, Rosie Leyk, noted Helen saying, "what a gal, she has the heart the size of Texas." Helen (finishing 5th) made the competition work for their wins. She finished off the day having pitched the most amount of shoes at 366.  
       Though Janet clinched the title, Sara was able to get some "redemption" in the final game of the day. After beating Janet, she offered her a great big hug. They both recalled the moment - Sara said to Janet, "Everyone said, "You have to beat Janet this year," they forgot to tell me about the rest of them." Sara won that game with a whopping 70% and finished the day with the women's high of 57.83%. 
       Janet is not only experienced, driven, and focused, she is also extremely humble in victory. In asking her for her highlights she first responded, "I have gotten plenty of attention in the past. I like to promote growth and the future of the sport." Seeing as experience edged out over the newcomers, I think some advice from our state champion is crucial. She says, "I am wise enough to know that winning requires a certain amount of skill, mixed with a fair amount of luck. I never go into any game thinking "I should be able to win this one." Everyone at this level is very capable of throwing a very good game at any time. I was impressed by how calm and relaxed all the "first time" ladies appeared." There is a little different mindset with the 40 point games, because you always have a chance to make a comeback, it's not over until someone hits 40. You just hope you don't fall into a slump and take too long to figure it out. Once someone gets to 30 points you have to be really careful to make every shoe count, because leaving an open stake can change the score in a hurry with less time to get those points back." Overall, it was a competition of experienced vs. newness and nerves. It seems the veterans edged us out this time, but there's always next year!  
       I was incredibly honored and humbled to play with such an amazing group of women. It was a childhood wish come true. I feel everyone in the class had her moment. Unfortunately for me, mine came Sunday via phone call rather than Mon. morning. The beauty of this sport is the people of the sport. Horseshoe pitchers become "family." Friendships are forged, and competition is fueled by the desire to keep coming back better. Thanks for the memories, and congratulations to all our champions!

                                       (L-R)     Minnie Fischer,  Tina Bussey,  Sara Otto,  Helen Hawkinson,  
                                                      Kayla Yaeger,  Melisa Wimmer, Jennifer O'Neil, Janet Larson  

                      Cadet B 
   (L_R) Kevin Hagman, Ryan Boyer, Linnea Lynch,  
             Justice Martin, Lilly Skogen, Ellie Davis
                      Cadet A
             (L_R) Marshall Swenson, Tyler Condon,
                      Tyler Lazenby, Austin Pierce
                       Junior A
                  (L_R) Tyler Stone, Devin Stone,
                   Colton Williams, Kyle Holland

Juniors    by Micah Snead
2017 continues to show how important young people are not only to the NHPA, but specifically to the MGSHPA. This year's tournament hadn't even started yet and we'd already had the opportunity to introduce 28 kids to this wonderful pastime! The summer camp kids from North Crest Kids Activity Center in Sauk Rapids were welcomed up to learn about the sport and given the chance to pitch their first shoes. These youngsters would have all qualified for the cadet class as they ranged from age 3-12.
As for the tournament itself, we had 2 cadet classes with 10 kids, and a junior class with 4 more. Colton Williams won the Junior title, with Devin Stone as runner up. The Cadet state champion is Tyler Condon, with Tyler Lazenby runner up. The Cadet B class was won by Justice Martin, with Linnea Lynch in 2nd.
 April Lynch, who is Minnesota 's Junior Director, did a wonderful job planning and running this year's junior party. The kids enjoyed all the pizza they could handle, soda included. Afterwards, they were given plenty of fun options to work all of it off. There were bean bag tosses, hoola-hoop contests, parachute games, a water splash fight, and even a touch football game!
These juniors are the future of this sport and we are all so grateful for the support you offer them. Cheering them on, score keeping for them, or just being there to watch. It's not an activity that is at the top of most kids' list in the summer, but if we continue to put time and effort into their experience when they come to any of our tournaments, it will help them build friendships like we all have that will keep them coming back for years to come! 

  Congratulations to all Class Winners  

                          Women's A
   Minnie Fischer, Janet Larson, Sara Otto

                           Women's B
  Jennifer O'Neil, Kayla Yaeger, Cheri Newcombe

                          Women's C
 Annette Grebinoski, Tina Bussey, Mary Matuke

                            Women's D
   Sandy Lease, Cheryl Hanowski, Lori York

                         Women's E
  Kelsi Gerwing, Kathy Degraw, Carolyn Brigner

                           Elder's A
   Gene Eitreim, Sig Armitage, Ray Volkers

                             Elder's B
        Gene Eitreim, Jeff Washburn, Frank Johnson

                       Elder's C
       Bob Knudtson, James Syverson, Jerry Larson

                            Elder's D
          Al Woida, Al Gunderson, Phil Rodenberg

                           Elder's F
             Paul Olson, Mike Littell, Dale Grunzke

                          Elder's G
       Glen Berglund, Marv Burgraff, Richard David

                            Men's A
            Eric Dehkes, Mark Smith, Josh Olson

                                 Men's B
         Jerry Hokkala, Eric Dehkes, Gordy Schmidt

                             Men's C
                 Steve Miller, Russ Girtz, Jerry Werk

                          Men's D
           Ray Pierce Jr, Joe Raycraft, Tim Bayerl

                              Men's E
            Lonnie Frank, Mike Creech, Ryan Pierce

                             Men's F
       Jeff Lawrence, Larry Jensen, Robin Constance

                       Men's G
       Leslie Marquardt, Art Longen, Trevor Teich

      Mark Smith - Josh Olson playoff game

                                   Lu Cave

MGSHPA Executive Board       MGSHPA Directors

Rick Wright
50586 Shorewood Circle
Rush City ,Mn 55069

North Vice President
Janet Larson
22651Co Rd 82 NW.
Evansville,MN 56326

South Vice President
Robin Constance
18273 Emerald Trail
Farmington, MN 55024

Ringer Digest Editor
Jerry LaBrosse
8170 Fern Lane
Greenfield,MN 55357

Josh Olson
PO Box 353
Bertha, MN 56437

Rob Hagman
652 Cross st.
Anoka,MN 55303

Nominations Director 
Joe Mueller
2057 152nd Lane
Ham Lake, MN 55304

Constitution and Bylaws
Gordy Schmidt
5631 187th St. W
Farmington, MN 55024

Promotion/News Media Director
Marlys Timm
4210 Woodhill Drive
Loretto ,MN 55357

Junior Promotions Director
April Lynch
25679 Friesland Ct
Wyoming, MN 55902

Communications Director
Jerry LaBrosse
8170 Fern Lane
Greenfield, MN 55357

About Us
MGSHPA's Ringer Digest is the official newsletter of the Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitchers' Association. It is free to members of the MGSHPA and other interested parties. Changes of email address can be sent directly to the editor     Jlabro6186@aol.com

All submissions to the Ringer Digest Editor is subject to editing, available space, and must be received by the 10th of the month preceding the date of issue.
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