BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – At the Indiana State Horseshoes Tournament held at Kokomo’s Highland Park, Kokomo residents Dan Dunn and Ted Sprinkle battled for the top spot in the Championship Elder’s Division. Sprinkle was the three-time defending champion and Dunn has several state and national titles under his belt. But in the end, Dunn cruised to his first Elder’s Division state title with a 4-0 record to Sprinkle’s 3-1.
The new champion dominated play, scoring 165 points and 137 ringers (on 172 throws) for a ringer percentage of 79.65 during the tournament. Sprinkle, the runner-up, scored 133 points and had a 61.44 ringer percentage on 145 total ringers (out of 236 throws).
“I’ve been second in the World Tournament and the State Tournament several times and I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to take second again,” said Dunn. “I pitched well, approximately 18 percent higher than anyone else in the field; I guess that I was just due.”
During the two-day tournament, 121 of the best horseshoe pitchers visited Kokomo for the state finals. The event was sanctioned by the Indiana Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Competitor’s enjoyed perfect weather during their visit to Kokomo, and Dunn said the Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department provided pitchers with outstanding courts.
“The weather was good,” said Dunn. “The Parks Department did an excellent job manicuring the courts. A good crowd from around the state was there and it was nice to show off our park, the city and our horseshoe club. We’re really fortunate to have the facilities we have since most cities don’t.”
Dunn is no stranger to horseshoe success. In 2014, he was a Class A national champion in the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association Team World Tournament. He had a national title in 2007 at the National Senior Olympics (age 65-69 division). Dunn also won the Indiana Senior Olympics title in 2006, 2011 and 2012.
Dunn’s ringer percentage at the 2015 state finals was the highest of any competitor during the state tournament, with Championship Elder Division fourth place finisher Phil Gross hitting at a rate of 64.52 percent. Championship Women’s Division winner Sue Snyder went 4-0 and had the third best ringer percentage at 64.29. And Championship Men’s Division winner Dale Moles (7-0) had a 64.02 ringer percentage. For Jasper native Snyder, it was her 10th Women’s Division state title.
Greentown’s James Miller, took top honors in Class F2. He finished the tournament 5-0 with 197 points and 64 ringers.
Sharpsville’s Bill White Sr. earned a state championship trophy in Class F1. He finished 4-2 with 201 points on 80 ringers.
Tipton’s Maria Harris earned state championship honors in Class J1. She finished the tourney 4-1 with 128 points and 36 ringers.
Other division state champions included: Class A1 Richard Mills, Class A2 Carl Sizemore, Class B1 David Moles, Class B2 Mary Sproessig, Class C1 Roger Upton, Class C2 Jim Watson, Class D1 Charlie Campbell, Class D2 Chuck Wothke, Class E1 Jerry Lothridge, Class E2 Dennie Moles, Class G1 Roger Geyer, Class G2 Dwight Silvers, Class H1 Chet Ross, Class H2 Bill Hively and Class J2 George Large.
In all, 21 pitchers from Kokomo, Russiaville and Greentown participated in the state tournament: Joe McKeeman, seventh in Championship Men; Bob Blessing, third in Class A2; Rick Walters, third in Class B1; Jerry Monticue, sixth in Class B1; Bill Harmon, fourth in Class B2; Roger Flick, second in Class C1; Otis Porter, third in Class C1; Rick Kiser, fourth in Class C1; Jennifer Luckey, second in Class D1; Fred Tragesser, fourth in Class D2; Michael Isaac, second in Class E1; Dave Waltman, second in Class E2; Jim Cockrell, fifth in Class G1; Dick Dwigans, second in Class G2; Mary Miller, third in Class H1; Donald Luckey, fourth in Class H2; Roy Walker, fifth in Class H2; and Robert Taylor, second in Class J2.
Tipton County competitors included: Gene Sallee, fourth in Class C2; Charlene Brown, fourth in Class D1; Doug Harris, sixth in Class D1; Roger Brown Jr., fifth in Class J1; and Ashleigh Peach, fourth in Class J2.