Local family does well at World Horseshoe Tournament

Submitted photo Front row (L-R): Mason Chambers, Brielle Schneider, Lianah Williams, Noah Chambers, Isaac Rasmussen. Back: Daren Chambers
Chad Smith

The 2019 World Horseshoe Tournament took place in Wichita Falls, Texas, on July 22-August 3. The National Horseshoe Pitching Association sponsors the tournament once a year in different locations around the country. Once again, this year’s tournament included a contingent of “pitchers” from the Rushford-Peterson area, who all competed well down in Texas.

Darren Chambers of Rushford usually takes a delegation of area pitchers to the tournament every summer. “This year, we had a few more people going along than in 2018,” Chambers said. “I took three new players this year. A total of five went from the Rushford area and I took my two grandsons from West Salem too.

“My new players this year included my niece, Donata Kitchens, along with my granddaughter, Brielle Schneider, as well as Lucas Rasmussen. They all took part in their first world tournament. The three that I took to last year’s tournament, Isaac Rasmussen, Mason Chambers, and Noah Chambers, all went again this year too.”

Brielle Schneider, who Chambers says has “only been pitching for about five months,” won the Class C Division at the tournament. “She won the round-robin tournament with a perfect 9-0 record,” Chambers said. “Brielle actually had to beat Isaac Rasmussen at one point (18-17) to win the championship. Isaac wound up in second place with an 8-1 record.

“A total of four kids were in Class C, including Brielle, Isaac, Lucas, and Noah. Noah took sixth place in Class C and Lucas Rasmussen finished in seventh. Mason won his class last year and took fourth in this year’s tournament. He started slowly but finished the tournament on fire, throwing 15 ringers in one game (37 percent of 40 total throws).”

Chambers said he takes the kids to different tournaments in Iowa throughout the winter (indoors). It’s not hard to get them ready for the world tournament because “they just love the road trips” and they “love playing the game.”

Lucas Rasmussen had the distinction of being the youngest player at the tournament in Texas. He played quite a match with Brielle Rasmussen in Class C competition. “He lost to Brielle in the last game of the tournament,” Chambers recalled. “He trailed 11-9 and just needed a ringer to win the game. He threw a ringer that would have won him the game. However, she had a shoe that was literally standing up on the side of the pole and it flipped her shoe right on there. That canceled out his ringer and he lost 11-9.

“This old guy [Darren] finished up 9-6 at the tournament this year,” he said with a laugh. “I wound up in sixth place, which got me into a little money. They pay out through sixth place.”

Chambers said Donata Kitchens wasn’t initially going to play in the tournament. Chambers said she came along to “help out with the kids.” Chambers admitted he knew they would need an extra pair of hands on the trip, especially with the extra kids going along to Texas. “Well, we decided since she’s going along, Donata might as well play,” he said. “You have to play in four tournaments to qualify for the world tournament and we just barely got her qualified. It was worth it as she took third place in the women’s Class K Division.”

Success at the world tournament requires many hours of practice according to  Chambers, who likes the fact that people in each division are competing against other players with similar skill levels, thanks to the way the national association organizes the tournament.

“This tournament really has a class for everybody,” he said. “Participants are put into their class based on their ringer percentage. The more ringers you make, the higher class of competition you’re in. For example, I’m in the second-to-lowest class at the tournament because my ringer percentage is between 10-12 percent. The number-one-ranked guy in the world will pitch somewhere between 85-90 percent.

“That’s a big difference and why they class it up the way they do,” Chambers added. “When you play someone in your class, you’ll have a good chance to win. It makes the tournament a lot more fun for everybody.”

Chambers has been attending world tournaments every year since 2003 and would usually go by himself. The group traveling to next year’s world championship tournament in Monroe, Louisiana, will likely include at least 13 people from Minnesota. He said there’s always room for more people who want to play.

“Anyone interested in pitching horseshoes can give me a call if they want to get involved,” Chambers added. “I’m happy to teach them different ways to throw and would be happy to help anyone interested.”