Ringer Digest

Special State Tournament Issue - 2022

A Charter of the NHPA

Official Publication of the Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitchers' Association



Womens Champion

Janet Larson

Janet's 10 Womens state title

Elders Champion

Myron Vanderweyst

Myrons 1st Elders state title

Mens Champion

Josh Olson

Joshs 2nd Mens state title

Junior Champion

Marshal Swenson

1st Junior state title



Mens Championship Class

L/R  Eric Dehkes, Nathan Dehkes, Joe Mueller, Josh Olson,

Mark Smith, Jerry Werk, Russ Girtz, Rich Kvamme

Mens Championship Recap

By Josh Olson

The 2022 State Tournament has come and gone. The Competition began on Friday night and concluded Monday afternoon with the State Champions to be crowned before we cleaned up the courts and put everything away for next year. We had another tough group of 8 competitors going for the opportunity to be crowned the Men’s State Champion. Eric Dehkes the 2019 State Champ, won Class B and was the #1 move up, followed by Russ Girtz and Jerry Werk who less than 12 hours prior was inducted into the MGSHPA Hall of Fame, both pitchers have qualified to compete in the past couple years and were no strangers to playing 40point games in the championship class. We did have a first timer making his Men’s state appearance Rich Kvamme who is from the Brooklyn Park Horseshoe club. Rich has been around the game of horseshoes for many-many years, it was good to see him at the State Tournament. I also cannot forget about the top 4 seeded competitors, Joe Mueller (defending Champion), Mark Smith (2-Time State Champion 2017 and 2018), Josh Olson (2015 State Champion) and runner up in the 2019 and 2021 State Tournament Nathan Dehkes, were the top 4 going into Championship Monday on Labor Day in Genola. 

It came right down to the final game to determine the Men’s Championship. The #3 seed going into the Tournament, Josh Olson (myself) and the #4 seed Nathan Dehkes both were 6-0 and bound and determined to walk away the 2022 Men’s State Champion. It was a hard-fought battle by both competitors, and you could feel the tension between the two. I ended up falling behind 6-0 right off the bat, but never looked back and ended up getting the win over Nathan 41-27 and captured my 2nd Men’s State Title. It was a great game both Nathan and I played well, and it was a great finish. I want to say congrats to both Myron Vanderweyst on his first Elder’s State Title, and Janet Larson on her 10th Title! 

I hope everyone had a great time at the Tournament, and I hope to see you all on the courts very soon!

-Josh Olson 2022 Men’s State Champion

Womens Championship Class

L/R Jenny Lammers, Patti Oakes, Christie Schilling, Pat Stumpf, Janet Larson, Anna Pierce, Melisa Dehkes, Helen Hawkinson

Womens Championship Recap

By Helen Hawkinson

For me the 2022 State Tournament felt like I was living the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. The excitement was the same and the outcome was pretty close to the same, just located at a different venue – Genola instead of Hibbing. But hey – 3rd isn’t bad!!

The seeded pitchers this year were Janet Larson the DC, Pat Stumpf, Helen Hawkinson, and Patti Oakes. The move-ups were definitely exciting this year. Anna Pierce took 1st in B Class and moved up to championship class with a 36.07% - Congratulations Anna! Melisa Dehkes who always plays tough and did again at State this year pitched a 37.86%, which was enough for the move-ups, Christy Schilling, who has pitched in Championship many times, moved up with a final ringer percentage of 33.21%, Colleen Szabo could have moved up with a 30.71% but for personal reasons passed. That left the door open for Jenny Lammers who pitched a 29.64%. Jenny probably never thought she would enter her very first State Tournament in B Class and get asked to pitch in the championship class! I am sure it will be a tournament she will never ever forget.  Great job Jenny.

EVERY one of the gals had close games and played their hearts out. Melisa, Patti and Pat were all only three (3) ringers away from beating the reigning champ during each of their games against Janet, but Janet prevailed and finished 1st for the 2nd year in a row with a 7-0 record and a 53.87% ringer percentage. Pat Stumpf had many great games and ended at 6-1 with 58.01%. Patti and I had another fierce battle – again – Groundhogs day! At the end of the day, there was a 3-way tie for 3rd and I took 3rd with a record of 4-3 ending with 51.52% which was the highest ringer percentage of the tie, narrowly beating Melisa at 50.32% and Patti at 47.38%.  

It is always great competition with these ladies who play hard, have great attitudes, and who are fun to be around. Any one of them could be Class A champion next year, maybe even me.  Keep on pitching ladies!! See you next year.

Elders Champioship Class

L/R  Myron Vanderweyst, Dick Dvorak, Ron Craigmile, Barry Hanson, Jeff Washburn, Brad Heth, Jim Aleckson, Jerry Hokkala

Elders Championship Recap

Points Make a Difference

By Janet Larson

There is a change in the line-up. Defending Champion, Ray Volkers, is unable to be present to defend his title, creating openings for five move-ups. Class B had been short their top seed and two qualifiers for move-up spots declined the invitation. This allows the remaining five from Class B to all move up to the Championship round. Seeded are Jerry Hokkala, making his 3rd appearance, along with two newbies in this class, Myron Vanderweyst and Brad Heth. The #4 spot will be filled by Ron Craigmile, who hasn’t pitched in this group since 2016. He won Elder’s B with an impressive 56.43%. Jim Aleckson (2018 Elder State Champion), Jeff Washburn, Barry Hanson and Dick Dvorak will fill the remaining four spots.  

Predictably, the first four rounds will see the top four pitchers pitted against the lower four pitchers. This is where the upsets can happen and #5 Jim will deliver two of them. In round one Jim attacks #4 Ron with a 63.79% game. Ron’s respectable game of 53.45% will not be enough. #3 Brad is not about to be upset and shows #6 Jeff no mercy, coming out strong with a 64.71% game.  

The top four hold tough in round two. #2 Myron and #5 Jim, who are very familiar with each other, both start out strong pitching several 4 deads. Jim comments to Myron, “well I guess we both want this one”. Ultimately, it is Myron who finishes on top with his best game of the day at 60%. On another court it takes Brad 60 shoes to claim his win over Dick.  


Jim comes back in round three delivering his second upset, this time to #3 Brad in a 58 shoe game. Jim has one ringer less than Brad, but has kept seven shoes closer to the stake, The battle in round three continues with another 58 shoes between Myron and Jeff, ultimately Myron will prevail 42-36. Meanwhile Ron pitches his best game of the day, 66.67%, allowing Dick to score just one point.  

In round four and for the second time, the top four each claim a “W”. By now #1 Jerry is on fire averaging 57.87% and, along with Myron, is undefeated. Brad and Ron each have one loss. However now is when things will start to get interesting, as the top four have to start taking on each other.  

Round five finds Jerry and Ron in a barn burner of a game that lasts 62 shoes, Jerry’s shoes hold on to the stake 40 times, Ron’s 39, but it is points that will decide the game in favor of Ron, 40-37, and give Jerry his first loss. On another court, Myron is concentrating on one shoe at a time, thinking, “if I can win one more game I have a chance to get to the podium”. Brad is trying to keep his losses to just one. They pitch 52 shoes, each of them have 26 ringers, this game also comes down to points and those five close shoes belong to Myron.  

Round six is a bit of a struggle for everyone, Dick is the only one of the eight to reach 50% as he double downs on Jeff. Jerry defeats Brad in just 44 shoes. Jim and Barry battle it out for 58 shoes with Jim ultimately getting back on the winning track. Ron gets an early jump on Myron, reaching 39 first, but after 58 shoes they each have 27 ringers and again the five extra close shoes belong to Myron.  

That brings us to round seven and the question, “will there be a playoff game?” Jerry has the higher ringer percent and just one loss, but Myron is undefeated. All the other classes have completed their games. The spectators have gathered. 40 shoes in, Jim easily wins his game against Jeff, pitching his best game of the day at 67.5%. 48 shoes in, on another court, Ron claims his 5th victory of the day (and ultimately 3rd place) by defeating Brad. After 54 shoes, Dick finalizes a three game winning streak in a close game with Barry, one more game that is decided by single point shoes, six of them. Myron and Jerry battle on, the last ones on the courts. Myron has the lead. His home club has been working concessions all weekend and he can feel their energy and support. The judge has been called a number of times to decide close counts. The spectators chatter quietly, but at times there is near silence, waiting to see where the next shoe will land. Now, after 58 shoes have been aimed at the stake by each worthy opponent, applause, as Myron holds on to claim the win. His name will now appear in the program book at all future state tournaments under the category, Elder Men Champions.  

P.S. As I visited with Myron the day after his victory, his delight, excitement and energy remained at a contagious level. His wife Linda had not been able to be in attendance at the tournament so on the 45 minute drive following his victory he was thinking of creative ways to tell her about his success. As he entered the location where he was meeting her she greeted him with, “Well how does it feel to be the State Champion?” His family had already seen it on Facebook and reposted it. Myron now knows what “blowing up” means!  

Junior / Cadet Recap

by April Lynch: Junior Director

2022 continues to show how important young people are not only to the NHPA, but specifically to the MGSHPA.  The State tournament this year was another fun event for our Juniors and Cadets with having some newcomers participate this year along with 2 Dehkes brothers competing against each other! We had 2 Cadets & 5 juniors for a total of 7 with an A class and a B class. The Class A state champion this year is Marshall Swenson with a record of 6 & 0 averaging 32.50% which was 10.94 over average!  Marshal was also awarded Junior Pitcher of the Year this! Way to go Marshal! The Class B champion this year was Elijah Strandquist with a record of 4 & 2 averaging 9.58 % which was 6.58% over average!  Amazingly this was Elijah’s first year playing in a horseshoe tournament and he was pitching his great grandfather’s lifelong pair of Gordon shoes. Elijah is the fifth generation pitching horseshoes! Wow what a great story about carrying on the sport!

Watching the Cadets and Juniors play is the highlight of the tournament for me like most likely is for many others. They all were amazing competitors and showed exemplary sportsmanship throughout the tournament!! Congrats to all!

 This year's junior party started out with the kids participating in a cool project that we have done in years past with their horseshoes called “Hydro Paint Dipping” using spray paint.  Again, this activity was enjoyed by all, and the shoes turned out again so unique with many different designs and colors. The kids even got creative and painted some water bottles and crocs.  Love it!!  After the paint dipping, we played some yard games and had some delicious pizza. The kids enjoyed some ice cream treats for dessert donated by Janet Larsen along with a $5 gift card Janet gave to each Junior/Cadet to spend at Speedway. 

I really enjoyed spending time with these young adults and watching their passion for this sport grow. As you know they are the future of this sport and I know they all are so grateful for the support you offer them. Cheering them on, score keeping for them, or just being there to watch. I remember very clearly as a junior 

Class A Juniors

Thomas Kremer, Triston Dehkes, Marshal Swenson, Beau Dehkes,

Class B Juniors

Kevin Hagman, Elijah Strandquist, Jordan Reese

Class Winners

Women's Class A

Pat Stumpf, Janet Larson, Helen Hawkinson

Women's Class B

Colleen Szabo, Anna Pierce, Christy Schilling

Women's Class C

Taylor Hughes, Carolyn Brigner, Carrie Kowalczyk

Women's Class D

Sara Rock, Sue Pierce, Cheryl Beck

Elder's Class A

Ron Craigmile, Myron Vanderweyst, Jerry Hokkala

Elder's Class B

Jeff Washburn, Ron Craigmile, Jim Aleckson

Elder's Class C

Stan Barney, Gary Kirckof, Al Springer

Elder's Class D

Larry Brabec, Richard Hunstad, Art Longen

Men's Class A

Mark Smith, Josh Olson, Nathan Dehkes

Men's Class B

Russ Girtz, Eric Dehkes, Jerry Werk

Men's Class C

Jerry LaBrosse, Colin Wanous, Brian Wipper

Men's Class D

Rich Bialek, Tim Brigner, John Hustings

Men's Class E

Al Blumer,Roger Lodermeier, Brian Tiedemann

Men's Class F

Robert Ciaciura, Art Lammers, Jeff Lawrence

Men's Class G

Wil Reed, Rick Wright, Richard Knudsen

Men's Class H

Jeff Thompson, Ron Ruch, Tim Schmalz

State Champs

Janet, Myron, Josh

Hall Of Fame

Jerry Werk

President's Award

Carolyn Brigner

Rookie of the Year

Sara Rock

Appreciation Award

Rick Wright

Frank Stinson Award 

Michelle Foard

Appreciation Award

Morrison Co Horseshoe Club

Edi Holland Award

Brad Heth

Tournament Participation Award

Patti Oakes

Top Ten POY Winners

Michelle Foard, Robert Ciaciura, Pat Stumpf, Brad Heth, Don Claseman, Mark Smith.

Not shown:Art Lammers, Patti Oakes, and Joe Mueller

Lip Sync Winner

Jerry Lee Lewis

aka Ryan Pierce

The Coasters

aka April Lynch

Kenny Rogers

aka Joe Mueller

Neil Young

aka Al Blumer

Freddie Mercury

aka Ray Pierce Jr

The Judds

aka Helen and Patti

Our president Ray Pierce Jr sings the national anthem to start the championship classes. Lori York, our webmaster, is there to assist him.


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Ray Pierce Jr


Ringer Digest Editor

Jerry LaBrosse



Ann Hagman



Josh Olson


NHPA Regional Director

Josh Olson



Lori York


North VicePresident

Rory Pierce


Nominations Director

Joe Mueller


South Vice President

Jeff Washburn


Constitution & ByLaws Director

Sue Pierce


Promotion/News Media Director

Michelle Foard


Junior Promotions Director

April Lynch


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