Dok Hembree, Randy Salzwimmer and Rai Adams of Pahrump won division titles Aug, 24 at the Nevada State Horseshoe Pitching Association championships in Hawthorne.
Hembree went 4-0 to win the B Division, Salzwimmer did the same in the C Division, and Adams won the mixed division. The tournament champion was Foster Kenton of Hawthorne, whose entry ringer percentage was almost double that of any other entrant. He then topped that in A Division play, hitting ringers at a 61-percent clip in going 5-0.
Ken Jose of Tonopah edged Dennis Andersen of Pahrump to win the Elders B Division, as each went 3-1 but Jose won on points. Finishing second to Jose was especially frustrating for Andersen, who defeated Jose 39-36 head to head.
Lathan Dilger of Pahrump was elected president of the NSHPA, while Mike Norton of Pahrump was re-elected secretary/treasurer and Jose was re-elected regional director. Next year’s state championship tournament was awarded to Tonopah.
Hembree’s closest call came in his opening game against Dilger, when the latter had the chance to win on the final shoes. Hembree won 29-28, then won his other games 42-14, 33-25 and 37-28. Coincidentally, the closest Hembree came to losing was also the closest Dilger came to winning, as the new association president went 0-4.
“I was in a rhythm from the beginning,” Hembree said. “I came out firing right out of the gate.”
The B Division came down to the last game, as Cody McNeely would have tied Hembree with a win, and he held the edge in points and ringers. But Hembree won 37-28 to wrap up the division, while somehow McNeely ended with more points (143-141) and ringers (55-51) despite only going 2-2.
Interestingly, Hembree and McNeely each came within a whisker of competing in the A Division. Hembree (28.29) and McNeely (28.28) went into the tournament with ringer percentages just slightly behind Dave Barefield, who had the lowest entry percentage in the A Division at 28.57.
But those weren’t the numbers that drew the most interest in the division, as there was some frustration on Hembree’s part over how prize money was distributed.
“I took most of the season off and waited for the state tournament because it was a very costly tournament,” Hembree explained. “It cost more than $275 to go to the tournament with the motel room and entry fee. It was a $25 buy-in, and normally a state tournament pays $175 or more. With my $25 buy-in, $60 purse, driving all the way up there for $275 to win $35, that was a joke to me.”
According to Norton, there was roughly $850 paid out for the seven divisions. Each division had $120 in prize money, with $60 for first, $35 for second and $25 for third. The prize money came from entry fees and Port of Subs, which added $100 to the prize pool in addition to a $1,000 sponsorship of the tournament.
“That included trophies, raffle prizes and T-shirts,” Norton said. “Port of Subs had a portable booth set up both days with sandwiches and breakfast burritos.”
But Hembree questioned why so much of the sponsorship money went anywhere other than the prize pool for the state championships.
“The raffle was held the day after the state tournament, when they held a non-sanctioned tournament, and the winner that day won $111,” Hembree said. “Port of Subs bought our trophies and our T-shirts, but they also bought trophies for Sunday’s tournament, and that money shouldn’t have been spent. The money that was collected for the Nevada State Tournament wasn’t spent on the Nevada State Tournament.
“Then after the raffle was done on Sunday — and I think they made $290 on the raffle — and $200 was put into the non-sanctioned tournament and $90 was given to the treasurer for next year. I felt like everybody who came for the state tournament was cheated unless they played Sunday.”
Norton acknowledged that $200 was added to the prize pool for the non-sanctioned tournament for a total of $400. But he also noted it was a doubles tournament, so the winners split the pot. When Jose and Adams won, they split $130 for $65 per player, or about the same as Saturday’s winners received.
“Basically, I pay out what we take in,” Norton said. “Port of Subs added $100, but I haven’t seen that money.”
Dilger provided a detailed breakdown of where the $1,000 in sponsorship money from Port of Subs went, and he also noted that for many pitchers the money isn’t a big deal so the raffles and trophies add more fun.
According to Dilger, $230 went to pay for raffle prizes, $185 went to trophies, T-shirts took $485, and $50 each went into the payout for the state championships and the Hi-Lo Doubles tournament played Sunday.
One thing Dilger and Hembree agreed completely about was Port of Subs’ displeasure about holding the state championships in Tonopah next year. The company has a location in Hawthorne, which was a key reason they sponsored the event, but not in Tonopah. But while Hembree said that move caused Port of Subs to pull out of the five-year deal, Dilger said that has not yet happened.
“If they do pull out, I don’t blame them,” Dilger said. “They voted Hawthorne out for Tonopah after they get a good sponsor. Go figure.”
But the company might put up with one year in Tonopah because Dilger said the tournament might be held in Winnemucca, and there is a Port of Subs location there.
Norton wanted to thank Christina Boyles, parks and recreation director in Hawthorne, for helping with the pit set-up and bathroom access. He added that Cindy Barefield, Dave Barefield’s wife, made very fancy cooler cups for all division winners, estimating their value at $20. “Kenton Foster left so quickly he did not get his cooler cup,” Norton said of the tournament champion. “I have it.”
Salzwimmer edged outgoing NSHPA President Don Brown 30-27 in the final game to claim the B Division title. Another Pahrump pitcher, Mike Nicosia, also came close to knocking off Salzwimmer, falling 29-25. Just as in the B Division, second-place Brown finished with more points (165-139) and ringers (52-46) than the first-place Salzwimmer.
Adams finished in a tie with Chad Yowell and Brandon Rather in his division, but his 139 points bested the field by three to claim the title.
Prospective pitchers are invited to join the Pahrump Dust Devils each Wednesday and Saturday at 10 a.m. at Petrack Park. Just don’t look for Hembree, who said he will stick to non-sanctioned tournaments next year because of what happened in Hawthorne.
“You can say Dok Hembree is retiring as state champion, B Division,” he said. “I was very disappointed in the state tournament, and I was a winner.”