ST. GEORGE – Alan Francis of Ohio added a 22nd championship to his storied career, and two other champions – Joan Elmore of Tennessee (Women) and Roger Vogel of Kansas (Elders) – earned crowns Saturday during the World Horseshoe Pitching Championships at the Dixie Convention Center.
Francis, who has won 14 of the last 15 world titles, went 15-0 and registered a ringer percentage of 90.4. Elmore was 14-1 (80.75) as she won her ninth crown and Vogel was 14-1 (75.11). Their titles culminated a 13-day run at the Dixie Center in which eight world championships were decided among the more than 1,000 competitors.
“This was a phenomenal experience, beginning with the celebrity tournament on the opening day to the Hall of Fame banquet midway through the tournament and closing with the final day where we crowned three champions,” said Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Area Sports Commission. “We have been getting rave reviews from participants who live outside the area who couldn’t believe how wonderful our hospitality has been. This goes to show what a great environment St. George is for sporting events.”
While spectators observed with rapt anticipation, Francis, whose championships span 28 years, breezed to the title, defeating Gary Bearpaw in a matchup of 14-0 pitchers. Francis’ ringer percentage was less than one percent off his record 91.2 set in 2013, the last time the event was in St. George.
Earlier in the tournament five other champions were crowned:
- Senior Men: Bob Swain, NM, 11-0, 61.51 percent
- Senior Women: Sheila Shepard, CO, 7-0, 68.37 percent
- Cadet: Walker Forrester, OK, 7-0, 75.43 percent
- Junior Boys: Seth Onan, KY, 7-0, 72.86 percent
- Junior Girls: Cameran Edwards, PA, 5-0, 60.29 percent
Athletes from 47 states and five countries made their way to St. George for the event, including an amateur field with competitors ages 6 to 92. While Utah (124) supplied the most horseshoe pitchers, California (121) and Colorado (67) weren’t too far behind. There was also a delegation from South Africa in St. George to observe the tournament and tour the area.
“This tournament truly brings people together from all walks of life – from our neighbors throughout Utah to those in America’s heartland and to our friends from outside the United States,” Lewis said. “They are eager to not only experience this great sport with the best horseshoe pitchers in the world, but to bask in the grandeur of the natural beauty that surrounds us.”
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