COLUMBIA — Hundreds of seniors roamed around Audrey J. Walton Stadium on Saturday morning as they competed in the track and field portion of the annual Missouri State Senior Games. Volunteers and spectators hid under umbrellas and tents in an attempt to escape the 90-degree heat, while the athletes competed in events such as the shot put, standing long jump, pole vault, discus and many more.
Dan Limbaugh, 68, cleared the bar during the pole vault event on Saturday morning. By mid-afternoon, he was one of only three men competing in the pole vault event. Limbaugh, a St. Louis native, holds age-group pole vault records from 2010, 2012 and 2013.
From left to right, Cassie Althen, 12, Dylan Althen, 13, and Andrew Althen, 10, hid from the sun during a break between events.
"We're getting in the shade; our dad's doing long-jump," Dylan said.
The three drove five hours with their parents from Bryant, Ark., their hometown. Sitting in the shade below Walton Stadium, the siblings made it clear the sun had taken its toll on them.
"It's so hot; this is just like the last one we were at," Andrew said.
"I'm the oldest of all of the throwers; we're all the throwers over here," said 89-year-old Daisy Edwards. At the 2013 senior games, Edwards won three gold medals and set age-group records in discus, javelin and shot put.
Edwards was accompanied by her daughter and coach, Myrle Mensey, who also competes in the games. Last year, the pair took home a total of eight gold medals.
Longtime friends and competitors heckled one another underneath a tent while they waited for their next event, the weight throw, to begin.
Donald Raiche, 76, far left, and Richard Lincoff, 70, far right, teased their friend Larry Rheams, 72. The two bragged about Rheams and boasted about the number of awards and medals he has won over the years.
Rheams holds age-group records in standing long jump, high jump, weight throw, shot put and hammer throw. According to Raiche, he can tell by his wallet that the three have known each other for "seven years, 14 days and 32 hours."
"It's the camaraderie that keeps me coming back, even though I have to put up with them," Rheams said, with a nod toward Raiche and Lincoff.
Rhobenya Nickerson, left, and Ernie Lee took a break from their duties and look on as the discus throwing competition begins. They worked as official implement certification personnel, and their job was to ensure that each competitor's throwing item meets the event's equipment standards.
Nickerson works for MU and said she enjoys her job at the games. "I like meeting other people and just kind of helping out," she said.
Lee is retired from his career and joked that he works at events like these because "They've got nobody else to do this job. I've been trying to retire for years."
A tree's shade offered relief from the sun for 65-year-old athlete Willie Oberman and event staff employee Ken Stokes. Oberman, like many others, swears by the health benefits of training for, and participating in, events like these.
He joked that before he started competing, "I couldn't even do one girl's push-up."
Oberman said the camaraderie and kinship between the athletes is what first attracted him to the senior games, and it is what keeps him competing every year.
"It's not about winning; I don't time or measure anything because I know I'm going to be worse next year," he said.
Despite his professed non-competitive attitude, Oberman has won 65 medals in 76 events over the eight years that he has competed in senior games across the state. This was his first year competing in Columbia.
This year was the eighth consecutive year for the mother-daughter volunteer team of Nancy and Miranda Bradshaw.
Nancy Bradshaw first got involved with the Missouri State Senior Games through her job with Shelter Insurance, but now volunteering with her daughter has become a family tradition. They enjoy the teamwork between both the athletes and the volunteers, and said that they're consistently amazed by the athletic abilities of the seniors.
"We love the track, once we started volunteering at track, we couldn't quit," Bradshaw said.
Sixteen year-old Miranda said she admires the athletes' attitude, and their smiles are contagious. "I like meeting the athletes, they all cheer each other on. They're all so happy," she said.
Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.