Three Pahrump pitchers placed in their divisions in the annual High Desert Showdown horseshoes tournament June 16 in Tonopah.
Mark Kaczmarek was the tournament champion, while Mike Nicosia placed second and Randy Salzwimmer third in the Class B competition.
Kaczmarek went 5-1 in Class A, making 66 ringers and defeating tournament favorite Louie Escalante along the way. Escalante made an event-best 111 ringers, but as his ringer percentage going in was easily the best in the 14-person field, he had a zero handicap.
Much like golf, pitchers are assigned handicaps based on past performance. The top seven percentages were placed in Class A, the other seven in Class B. Escalante’s ringer percentage going in was 46.41, so despite his high total he actually fell short of that at the High Desert Showdown.
“He basically had one bad game, and it was against Mark,” said Mike Norton of Pahrump, the secretary-treasurer of the Nevada State Horsehoe Pitchers Association. The NSHPA is a chapter of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, a federation of 54 chapters in the United States, each with numerous club affiliates and individual members.
Kaczmarek actually had the lowest ringer percentage in Class A going into the event, but his total of 66 was the second best of the day.
Nicosia, who is listed as the pit engineering specialist of the state chapter, went 5-1 to finish second in the Class B competition, hitting 44 ringers to nearly match his overall percentage of 18.82. Salzwimmer went 3-2 with a tie to finish third, totaling 33 ringers.
The High Desert Showdown is an event sanctioned by the NHPA and events are scheduled for 19 weekends in Nevada. including six in Pahrump. The state championships will be held in August in Hawthorne.
“That’s one thing Nevada does I don’t understand,” Norton said. “They run the state tournament in the hottest month of the year. I don’t get it. Arizona runs theirs in March, so it’s a little bit cooler.
“We had a tournament up in Tonopah when it was about 115 degrees. There were so many people we were pitching 720 shoes. The guy who won it, we haven’t seen since. He threw his arm out.”
The High Desert Showdown was hosted by Ken Jose, the regional director of the state chapter and also the longtime softball coach at Tonopah High School.
“He put extra money into the tournament, he bought pizzas for us,” Norton said. “He really does a good job.”
The next event on the Nevada horseshoe pitching schedule will be in Pahrump, the Saddle West Open on July 7 at Petrack Park.
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