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Good sports, good times

Winning isn’t the most important thing to those competing in the yearly games.
Sunday, June 27, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:00 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Jaime Vergas, 50, of Columbia, showed an iron man effort at the Green Tennis Center.

Vergas took second place in the men’s singles 50-54 division Saturday at the Missouri State Senior Games. The final match against Stephen Robertson, 51, of Kirkwood, lasted about 2 1/2 hours.

About 15 minutes later, Vergas, then played with Jane Vetter, 63, of Jefferson City to win the mixed doubles 50-54 final against Theresa and Cliff Connoly of Norwood.

“I teach tennis, so I am on the court all the time, and I am used to the heat,” said Vergas, who coaches at the Country Club in Jefferson City. “Twelve hours a day (of tennis) is nothing to me.”

Vetter’s hustle in the match showed the age category doesn’t matter to her. She has played tennis for about 20 years, and this was her second time participating in the Games.

“It’s always nice to win,” Vetter said. “You can do as much as you want to or as little as you want to. But, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. That’s the fun part of it.”

Diane Caspall, 62, of Columbia, played with her husband, Ken, for the first time in the mixed doubles 60-64 division.

The Caspalls won the title, beating Sharon and Harry Alder of Mountain Grove. Ken Caspall said tennis is something they have done since being married.

“We really had an enjoyable time,” Caspall said. “And these folks are very nice and gracious people. In addition, they are very good tennis players.”

Sharon Alder said the trip to Columbia was worth it.

Alder said tennis has always given her and her husband the opportunity to meet new people anywhere they go.

“A lady told me once that if you have to travel a lot and if you can play tennis or bridge, you always meet people and make friends,” Alder said. “And, that’s really true.”

— Kosuke Kinashi

Washers

Dale Andrews has a silver and a bronze medal in washers, but he wanted gold.

Andrews, 59, of Columbia, competed for the third straight year in the 55-59 division. Earlier in the day, he won a gold medal for accurately throwing a softball.

Five men competed, and two play with Andrews on his softball team: Jim Schadt, 57, and Larry Joe Pauley, 55.

Schadt told him about the Senior Games and washers.

“My shoulder has so much arthritis, so I can’t do a whole lot of stuff,” Andrews said.

Andrews got to spend time with his wife, Judy, at the event. She did not compete, but she kept score for the washers competition.

Andrews had high hopes after defeating his friends in last year’s event. This year’s results, though, were different.

Pauley beat Andrews in the first match 17-15, and after Schadt beat Pauley in the second match, Schadt beat Andrews 21-12 to win the competition.

Pauley was second, and Andrews was fifth.

“It’s a lot of fun and good entertainment,” Andrews said, “It gives me something different to do.”

— Sonya Grogg

Bowling

Kay Franke and Margaret Palmer know bowling.

Between them, they have more than 45 years of bowling league experience. Palmer, 74, bowls every Friday and Franke, 62, spends five nights a week at the lanes.

This is the first year both women competed in doubles because Palmer never had a partner to travel with her to Columbia from Greentop, a town outside Kirksville. She previously bowled in the women’s singles division for five years.

Franke, from Kirksville, played with Palmer in four or five tournaments, so the women decided to join forces. Thirty-two teams participated in the doubles competition at Oakland Plaza Lanes.

“In the past, I really haven’t done that well, but not bad either. My average right now is 141,” Palmer said.

Franke has a 151 average but was unsure whether she could match that.

“I’m not a strike bowler,” Franke said. “I can get in a groove, but I can pick up spares most people don’t pick up.”

Franke came close to her expectations with a 149 average in three games, but Palmer was disappointed with her 111 average.

They would have liked to have won, but for them it involves more.

“It is so much fun meeting people who do something similar to what you do,” Franke said.

— Sonya Grogg

Swimming

The smell of chlorine filled the air at Hickman High as participants prepared for their races.

Ranging in ages from 50 to 80, swimmers traveled from Indiana, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri to compete.

Allen Hahn didn’t have to travel far; he was one of seven swimmers from Columbia. At 70, Hahn has invested years in swimming and is hoping to get back into competition.

“I haven’t competed in two years,” Hahn said.

Hahn is no stranger to the pool, considering he has swum for 30 years.

He started the Columbia Masters swim team 30 years ago, which was designed to allow people of all ages the chance to swim four times a week.

“My kids were swimming for the Columbia Swim Club back in the ’70s, and I thought, ‘They’re having fun, why can’t I?’” Hahn said.

Hahn and his wife have lived in Columbia since 1969, and he retired in 2000 after working as a veterinary professor at Missouri for 31 years.

His desire to swim started in college; he became certified as a Red Cross instructor and taught swim classes.

The 50-yard breaststroke is Hahn’s best event, and Saturday he won his age group in 45.47 seconds. It was well off his best time, he said, but it was his first event of the meet.

Terri Lees, of North Kansas City Community Center, competed for the first time and started the meet with a winning 200 freestyle time of 2:44.64. She had a great finish to her first race, barely beating Charles Harter of St. Louis.

“Well, I had a plan and I swam my plan,” Lees said, “but I think I could of swam harder.”

— Andrea Nigh

Track

Kathy Lord spent her day running in and between events.

Lord, of St. Louis, spent the afternoon competing in track and field.

Lord, 55, competed in at least 10 events at Audrey J. Walton Stadium, including discus, javelin and three running events.

Lord said the javelin is her best event.

“I took fifth in javelin at nationals,” Lord said. “That was only the second time I had ever thrown a javelin for competition.”

She said a friend introduced her to track a few years ago, and she has been involved since.

Like Lord, many people competed in multiple events.

Roy Micheal Roberson, a radio personality for a jazz station in St. Louis, was eligible for the games for the first time after turning 50 on June 19. Roberson started his track career at 11 and has missed one track season. He said he enjoys the friendly competition.

“He is a competitor,” said Dorris Roberson, his friend.

Having a good time was more important than earning a medal.

Freddie Walker, who competed in several events, including 3-on-3 basketball, darts and javelin, said he competes because of the social side of sports.

“I just love sports,” Walker said. “I love getting together with people.”

Lord agreed.

“It’s cool because everyone helps each other to do better,” Lord said.

Jim Lord, Kathy’s husband, does not compete, but he helps her carry her things and enjoys watching her compete.

“I like the fact that she enjoys the company of the other women,” Jim Lord said. “They are so supportive. They aren’t trying to kill one another they help and coach one another.”

— Alexis Headley

Racewalking

Fred Adams, 70, Tom Young, 87, Don Swegel, 72, and Cliff DeWitt, 63, missed their club’s meeting Saturday morning at 8. Their absences were excused because they were almost through with the 5K Road Race course, which went through the neighborhood behind Rock Bridge High and began at 7:30 a.m.

The men are from the same racewalking club, Heartland Racewalkers, which meets in Overland Park, Kan.

Runners competed in the 5K, too, but they started at 7:30 and then, at 7:32, the racewalkers began. The racewalkers were told that when they finished their time would be a runner’s time, and they needed to subtract two minutes to get their times.

Young and Swegel did not realize the difference in the times until after they finished. Young was so thrilled he said it was “like an income tax refund.”

Each man started racewalking for a reason.

“My neighbor got me started; she is a three-time national gold medal winner,” Young said. “After I lost my wife, she said, ‘You better get cracking and start doing something.’ Since I was 82, that was about five years ago.”

Each man has his look for the race. Swegel and DeWitt wear T-shirts and long khaki shorts, but racewalk officials have to be able to see a certain length above a competitor’s knees.

At the Senior Games in the 85-89 age group, Young has competed in the 5K and the 1,500 meters. He finished the 5K in 45 minutes, 16 seconds.

The other three like to joke that Young took home the gold by default Saturday because there was no one else competing in his age division.

Because Young, Adams and DeWitt placed first or second in their divisions, they qualify to go to the national racewalking event next year in Pittsburgh.

— Tammy Portnoy


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