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Prairie Rose State Games: A pitch for horseshoes

In his spare time, Mark Gilbertson throws horseshoes. His sport is all about repetition. The more he pitches, the more he succeeds. "I go out on my days off and practice," Gilbertson said. "I try to get out one day besides my league play." And Gi...

Horseshoes
Mark Gilbertson chucks a horseshoe while competing against Kelly Plutowski in the Prairie Rose Stae Games on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Park. Grand Forks Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg

In his spare time, Mark Gilbertson throws horseshoes. His sport is all about repetition. The more he pitches, the more he succeeds.

"I go out on my days off and practice," Gilbertson said. "I try to get out one day besides my league play."

And Gilbertson is in three Fargo-Moorhead leagues.

He's recognized as one of the state's better players but he still decided to compete in the participation-oriented Prairie Rose State Games on a picture-perfect day at Lincoln Drive Park.

"I came here because it's fun but I also came here to help support the (Grand Forks) league and their new courts," Gilbertson said.

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Gilbertson captured the gold medal in the Class A division. He finished strong, ending with a ringer accuracy of 56 percent in his last game.

Gilbertson has competed on the world level as well. He finished second in his class during the world meet last year in Erie, Pa., where he went 11-3-1.

He started pitching early. "My parents gave me a set when I was 5 or 6 and I just kept playing," Gilbertson said. "It's fun and it's inexpensive. You can play it anywhere. It's also good exercise."

The number of horseshoe pitchers was down from what was expected. But the overall participation numbers of the Prairie Rose State Games this weekend are down as well.

Prairie Rose officials estimated that Saturday's number of participants was around 1,500. More than 4,000 competed during the 2004 Games in Grand Forks. The Games rotate between the state's four largest cities each year.

One of the Prairie Rose State events -- 3-on-3 roller hockey -- was canceled because there were not enough teams.

However, those that that did compete had a good time, including Ardell Slominski of Ardoch, N.D., who grew up pitching horseshoes.

He hadn't pitched much since 1999 but decided to compete in the Games this weekend.

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"If this wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it," he said. "But I'll probably be sore tomorrow."

But there will be more pitching today as the local horseshoe club is involved with the Grand Cities Open, an event that could bring in as many as 30 pitchers to Grand Forks.

Gilbertson also will compete in the Open, an event that will be more competitive.

The Prairie Rose State Games will wrap up today at various sites around the city.

Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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