BHPA makes history at world tournament
By GEOFFREY STOUTE
The Bayou Horseshoe Pitcher’s Association made history recently at the 2012 National Horseshoe Pitchers Association’s World Horseshoe Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn., as one of its team members won a world title and another placed second.
Al Dodson of Morgan City won the Senior Men’s H World Championship, while Karl Vaughn of Bayou L’Ourse placed second in the Men’s L-2 class.
The feats were recorded in just the second year that BHPA has participated in the World Horseshoe Pitching Tournament. In 2011, the squad participated in the tournament in Monroe.
While Dodson competed in 2011 in Monroe, this was Vaughn’s first ever appearance in the world tournament.
Dodson finished the tournament with a 13-2 record and a 27.5 ringer percentage, while Vaughn finished with a 12-3 mark and a 27.5 ringer percentage.
They were joined at the tournament by other local BHPA members Tim Hayles, Linda Dodson (Al Dodson’s wife) and Tim Gilmore.
The local contingent was among approximately 1,250 who participated in the tournament.
Al Dodson said he was surprised how well he did this year after a fourth-place finish with a 9-6 record in the Regular Class at the 2011 event. In the Regular Class, he competed with younger competition.
This year, though, he competed with men ages 60 and older.
“It’s a heck of an honor,” Dodson, 66, said of his finish. “… You go in there and hope you do well. Sometimes you can play just as good and don’t win as many.”
At this year’s event, Al Dodson shot 4.5 percent higher than his average entering the tournament. His performance at the world tournament was the highest of the 15 competitors in his age group, who also hailed from such states as Ohio, Georgia and Wisconsin and even one participant from Ontario, Canada.
“Canada was well represented this year,” Gilmore, BHPA’s publicity director, said.
Al Dodson threw 200 shoes each night for three nights in the tournament.
Vaughn, who dedicated his world tournament appearance to his son, Randy Vaughn who died in a boating accident in Patterson in March, said it was exciting to do as well as he did.
“It was pretty cool,” he said.
Vaughn finished runner up to Thomas Shannon of Oklahoma, who recorded a 13.5-1.5 record and a 32.17 ringer percentage.
Like Al Dodson, Vaughn also peaked at the right time as his ringer percentage at the tournament was 4.75 percent higher than what he entered the world tournament with.
Vaughn’s 15 other competitors came from such places as Oklahoma, Illinois, New York and California.
While Karl Vaughn excelled at the world tournament, it was Randy Vaughn who introduced his father to horseshoes.
“I first got in it playing with him,” Karl Vaughn said. “(We) played behind his house, having fun. (It was) a father and son thing.”
Overall world champions were Alan Francis of Missouri in the Men’s Division Class A, Joan Elmore of Tennessee in the Women’s Division Class A and Dalton Rakestraw of Missouri in the Junior’s Division.
Others across Louisiana earning world titles included Buddy Townsend of West Monroe in the Elder’s H-1 class and Cliff Hartley and Ellen Hartley, both of Stonewall, in the Men’s 0-2 and Women’s L classes, respectively.
Louisiana had 28 participants at the world tournament, which ranked 15th along with Texas and New York.
Additionally, Louisiana was presented a plaque this year for the largest number of increased participants from 2010 to 2011 at a world tournament.
“Horseshoe pitching is coming on really good,” Gilmore said of Louisiana. “To host a world championship in Louisiana is a big thing for us.”