Island horseshoe players medal at Gulf Coast Senior Games

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Left to right, Herb Puryear and Al Kingstad display the
medals they won at the Gulf Coast Senior Games.

Three Anna Maria Island residents have won medals in horseshoes at the 19th Annual Gulf Coast Senior Games, held last month at park sites in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Herb Puryear, Al Norman and Art Kingstad all took home medals in the games, which give Florida seniors a chance to compete in 17 sporting events ranging from archery to track and field. All three are regulars at the horseshoe pits behind Anna Maria City Hall and were the only Island participants in the games.

Puryear, of Anna Maria, took gold medal honors in the 80 and over division. A retired machinist from Interlochen, Michigan, Puryear, and wife Barbara, spend their winters on the Island and this is his third consecutive medal year at the games.

"I won the bronze in 2006, the silver in 2007, and I was really happy to see so many seasoned players at this year’s games," said Puryear. An avid angler, Puryear is often seen on the beach at Bean Point, hoisting a stringer filled with whiting. "I’d rather be fishing," he said.

Also medaling in the 80 and over group was Norman, a Holmes Beach seasonal resident. Hailing from Normandy Beach, New Jersey, this was his sixth appearance at the games, with two prior bronzes to his credit.

"I turn 80 in August," said Norman, "so I was promoted to the division because my birthday is this year."

Retired from over 30 as a commercial florist, Norman, and wife, Dorothy, spend every January and February at the home his family has owned for almost 60 years.

"My father built the house in 1950 and we’ve been coming to the Island each year since then," said Norman. "Dad was a florist and so are two of my three sons. I also used to throw the shot put in the track and field event, but that thing has gotten just a little heavy for me these days."

In his fourth consecutive Senior Games, Art Kingstad won his second bronze medal in the 64-69 age division, the first coming in 2004. Kingstad and wife Janet live in Holmes Beach and the 68-year old loves the game.

"I bike nearly 11 miles twice weekly to pitch shoes at Bradenton’s G.T. Bray Park, in addition to playing every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria games," remarked Kingstad.

The 34-year veteran Deputy Fire Chief, from Brookville, Wis., also plays softball, does woodworking and enjoys fishing when time permits.

The games were well-attended again this year, with 625 competitors age 50 and older coming in from throughout the state. The oldest participant this year was 95, said event director, Michelle Richardson, of the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Division. Sponsors were the Bradenton Herald, Manatee Apparel Graphics and Tidewell Hospice and Palliative Care.

Hutton’s hammerin’ at horseshoes

On Saturday, March 1, 28 players squared off to see who would be crowned Champs for the Day in the weekly horseshoe games behind Anna Maria City Hall. It seems that every session is seeing new faces, with each day bringing an opportunity to make the acquaintance of people wanting to try their hand at this unique sport. Out of the resulting 14 randomly-paired teams, four emerged undefeated from their three-game pool play round to advance to the morning’s playoffs. The semi-final matches featured Adin Shank and Jerry Disbrow besting Tom Rhodes and George McKay 23-11, while John Crawford and Norm Good were taking a similar 21-11 loss at the hands of Leo Hutton and Bob Mason. It was all Hutton and Mason in the finale, where they rolled to a 22-5 win over Shank and Disbrow. "Wow, I just can’t seem to make it to the winner’s circle," lamented Shank, who is an outstanding shoe shooter. Just hang in there, Adin, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Thirty-one competitors were at the mid-week games, the following Wednesday, and Hutton was in the thick of things again as a member of one of three playoff teams on that breezy first day of the new month. The first eliminator saw Hutton and partner Dean Rowe, cruise to a 24-12 victory over Tom Rhodes and Bob Lee. But Hutton’s hopes for an instant replay were dashed in an exciting 22-18 loss to Debbie Rhodes and Gene Bobeldyk in a game that featured a bevy of ringers by both teams.

The games get underway at 9 am. each Wednesday and Saturday in the tiny park at the corner of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue. Warm-ups begin at 8:45 followed by random team selection just prior to play. Plenty of free parking is available and all skill levels are welcome.

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