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Players make a pitch for horseshoes

A friendly game of horseshoes can become serious business when there’s a championship on the line. Ernesto Diaz and Darrell Keil were just having fun last Thursday at Great Bend’s horseshoe pits in Brit Spaugh Park, but they planned to compete in a tournament Saturday at the Ellinwood After Harvest Festival.
Willie Mannebach joined them for Thursday’s game. All three have pitched horseshoes for 30 years or more. They were pleased this summer when the Great Bend Recreation Commission promoted the pits by inviting people to come out and play on Thursday evenings. The pits are located north of Park Elementary School. The non-sanctioned play starts at 7 p.m. and is open to anyone 16 years of age or older; bring your own horseshoes.
“It’s a fun game,” Keil said. It doesn’t cost much to play, although a pair of professional shoes can run $80 or more.
“Fun and relaxing,” Diaz agreed.
It can also be good exercise, Keil added. “You can walk 2 miles in a tournament.”
Sanctioned tournaments are where the game gets serious. The 2015 World Horseshoe Tournament held in Topeka featured some of the world’s best pitchers. The 2016 World Tournament starts July 25 in Montgomery, Ala.
Mannebach, who learned to play the game when he was young, showed his official Ted Allen horseshoes. Allen was the 10-time World Champion. He was born on a wheat farm near Natoma, and is in the Osbourne County Hall of Fame.