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Games a chance to shine

Athletes make special efforts for an opportunity to test their skills
Monday, July 30, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Jacob Lawghuin, left, 12, and his brother Kale, 13, wait to shoot during during the Show-Me State Games skeet shooting on Sunday, July 29, 2007 at Cedar Creek Rod and Gun Club near Columbia, Mo.

Brian Thompson woke up 30 minutes before Sunday’s competition and almost missed his chance to add more gold medals to his weekend collection.

Thompson, 23, of Trenton, won the 2005 national collegiate championship for MU. On Saturday, he hit enough clays to win gold in the Show-Me State Games’ trap and modern Skeet shoots. On Sunday, he had just enough time to put on his familiar MU shooting vest, clip on his iPod, and grab the black cap with a golden Antler symbol that he wears to every shoot.

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Last December, Thompson graduated from MU where he was a member of the the Antlers, a student group of MU men’s basketball fans known for their rowdy behavior at games. He now works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Park Ranger.

He said he is used to getting odd looks from more veteran shooters when he shows up with his MP3 player and Antlers hat.

“I live a duality life, one side is a mature federal law enforcement agent. Where I have to maintain my duties, or be calm enough to give first aid,” Thompson said. “The other side is being an Antler, where there are no limits, and where most people’s first impression of us is right.”

He said his MP3’s headphones are normally playing the song “Mexico” by James Taylor, unless he is shooting international skeet, like he was Sunday. Thompson said the song’s four-beat rhythm isn’t distracting to him until he gets to that level of skeet shooting, which is looked at as the toughest form by many shooters.

“Here (in international skeet) you have a reaction time of less than a second to locate and hit your target which is about the size of softball,” Thompson said.

Despite the level of difficulty, Thompson claimed another gold medal Sunday, beating Ralph Gates, the MU shooting team coach, by four points.

Gates said he wasn’t upset about losing to Thompson.

“Its just fun to see a kid come along,” Gates said. “When you compete, and your name is already in the record books, the next best thing to do is help somebody to beat it.”

Thompson was quick to acknowledge his former coach, who also serves as the event organizer.

“Ralph’s been a great coach to the guys on the MU shooting team,” Thompson said. “Plus, the major reason we get to have a Show-Me State Games shoot is because he makes it happen.”

Thompson said he first started competing in the Show-Me State Games before he could even drive himself to them.

“These shoots are a lot more fair and enjoyable competition,” Thompson said. “At other competitions, you don’t talk to anyone you’re shooting with, you’re just focused in your own world. Here everyone has a smile on their face.”

— J.J. Gilmore

Still competing

The constant splashing at the Show-Me State Games’ swimming competition Sunday made the MU Aquatic Center sound like a rocky beach at high tide. The smell of chlorine was enough to break the illusion.

For the second heat of the 100-meter breaststroke, James Marcantonio of Jefferson City climbed onto the platform at the fourth lane while gripping a timer’s shoulder for support. He had competed in the triple jump a few hours ago, but he said he likes swimming better. It’s easier on the body.

At age 80, that’s a consideration for Marcantonio.

His blue goggles reflected the pool water and the bobbing black and yellow lane indicators. A whistle sounded, and he straightened up and dived in.

“I have a bad knee,” he said, rubbing his left knee, “But this leg is a really good one,” he added, indicating his right leg with a smile.

He’s been competeting since Friday in both track events and swimming. Early every morning, he has had to commute from Jefferson City to Columbia for one event or another. He said its been it’s been exhausting, but enjoyable.

“I do everything in track but pole vault. If you know what pole vault is, then you know why,” he said with a quiet laugh.

He’s been swimming at the YMCA in Jefferson City for two years to help with his hurt knee, but he couldn’t compete in last year’s games because he wanted to recover longer from a stroke. This was the first year he has competed in swimming, but he’s watched the games before and came to senior meets in Columbia 15 years ago.

“I remember when the college didn’t have a track and they competed at Rock Bridge High School,” he said. “That was the first year they held Show-Me State Games, 23 years ago.”

Marcantonio won the gold in the men’s 80-and-older 100-meter breaststroke in 3 minutes, 37.26 seconds.

— Toby S. Holmes

Long time coming

After 20 years of handing out medals, Joe Duncan finally has one he can call his own.

For the first time in the Show-Me State Games’ history, Duncan, 73, ran in the games’ road race and won the gold medal for his age group. Before Sunday’s race Duncan had been the commissioner of the race and was unable to participate.

“It’s very satisfying,” Duncan said after winning his first medal. “I like the competition.”

Duncan, a self-proclaimed mediocre runner, had been waiting all year for this race. After announcing his retirement as commissioner last year, he then announced that he would be taking part in this year’s event.

“It feels great to be on the other side,” he said. “It’s more fun to run.”

Duncan said he didn’t train all that hard for Sunday’s race. He said he’s been running three to six miles three times a week, which is normal for him.

“I used to run five to six times per week, but as I’ve got older, it’s harder for me to recover,” he said.

Although he doesn’t run as much, he said he still enjoys it, and he enjoys seeing other people join in at the games.

“It’s a great way to stay fit,” he said. “It’s great to see people from all over Missouri and all ability levels out here. It’s something for everyone.”

Duncan said he plans on coming back for next year’s race and he welcomes any and all challengers. But before that happens, he first must prepare for his next big run. He plans to run a half marathon Oct 7 on the MU campus.

— Nick Snow

Going places

With their hair slicked back in tight buns and dressed in matching shiny purple and silver swimming suits, six synchronized swimmers pose Sunday afternoon at the edge of the Hickman High School pool. Flashes go off and memories are made. Parents and friends laugh as the girls enjoy some last minute fun at the Show-Me State Games.

The girls yell and giggle and fall backwards into the pool. They stay in the water and splash around, soaking up the end of the meet. These girls love the the water.

Sunday, members of the Kansas City Sea Sprites and the St. Louis Gateway Synchro teams competed in the Show-Me State Games’ synchronized swimming competition at the Hickman pool. Nearly 40 swimmers, ages 6 to early 30s, participated in the solo, duet, trio and team competitions.

After the last-minute dip in the pool, 18-year-old Heidi Fogle walks over to the awards area, still dripping with water.

“Thanks for setting such a great example for everyone Heidi,” a parent says to her on the way over.

Fogle smiles, takes the compliment and replys with a humble thank you.

Occurences such as these probably aren’t that uncommon for the 2007 Shawnee Mission South High School graduate. Fogle was third in her class of 400 with a 4.8 GPA and scored a 2350 on the SAT. In September, Fogle will attend Stanford University on a full academic scholarship. She plans to study neuroscience or environemental science.

She also plans to walk-on to the Cardinal’s synchronized swimming team, the 2007 NCAA champions in the sport.

“I’m a little bit nervous to (walk-on) because they are the No. 1 team in the country,” Fogle said. “But, they have some Olympians on their team, so I’m still excited.”

According to her coach, Marilyn Deister, who founded the Sprites in 1951, Fogle combines strength and expression in her swimming.

“You have to be able to control your breath, understand music, swim with speed and be an actress when you perform,” Deister said. “Heidi is great at these and has put in hours and hours of practice to do that.”

— Alicia Hatcher


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