Cruising NWKS: Competitors show skill in games
By GAYLE WEBER
LUCAS -- It's as much about skill as anything.
But try telling that to the spectators who strolled through Lucas City Park on Saturday as they watched men and women heave weights as heavy as 56 pounds through the air.
It was all part of the second annual Lucas Highland Games.
"We'll throw rain or shine," organizer Doug Kressly of Lucas said Saturday morning as a mist fell.
Events include a caber toss, which involves competitors flipping tapered logs as long as 16 feet over their shoulders for distance. A stone put is similar to shot put in track and field. There are two weight throws -- a lightweight involving 28 pounds for men and 14 for women and a heavyweight of up to 56 pounds for men and 28 pounds for women.
A sheaf toss involves competitors throwing a bundle of straw, weighing up to 20 pounds, over increasing heights using a tool resembling a pitchfork. Weight over bar is similar, but involves a 56-pound weight with a handle.
"It's pretty cool," Devon Schoen, Sylvan Grove, said as he watched some of the men compete in weight over bar.
Weights are measured in stones, which equate to 14 pounds each, and all events are one-handed, according to Mark Parsch of Kansas City who served as the announcer for the day-long event Saturday. The games originated in Scotland, and Highland Games are prevalent across not only Scotland, but also the United States.
"These events started as a way of training for war," Parsch said.
There were 22 competitors in Lucas for the games, coming as far as Springfield, Mo., and north Texas.
"We're a close community," Parsch said, adding many of the competitors travel to the same events, and some even go to Scotland for the home country's games.
Spectators ventured down to the park throughout the morning, and all marveled at the weights some of the competitors were able to toss 80 feet across the park and 30 feet into the air.
"We have a lot ex-track and field athletes," Kressly said, adding Highland Games competitors across the country draw former NFL players, too. "You've gotta be somewhat strong, but it's technique."