Theresa Howe and Debra Brown are two of the biggest names in the world of competitive horseshoes, reigning as not only two of the best in New England, but two of the best in the world.
Last year, Brown, a Vermont native, bested Howe, of Massachusetts, in the Ladies’ Class A competition at the New England Horseshoes Championships at Wheelock Park.
This past weekend, the pair were among the many marquee pitchers to return to Keene for another stab at the New England title, and this time, it was Howe who came out on top.
Howe, who came in as the No. 2 seed, went a perfect 7-0 in the round-robin tournament in Ladies’ Class A, hitting 246 ringers out of 348 shoes for a ringer percentage of 70.69. Brown, the tourney’s first seed, went 6-1 with a ringer percentage of 61.96 (228-of-368). New Hampshire’s Diane Mason took third at 5-2 with a 62.87 ringer percentage (210-of-334).
The Men’s Class A contest was less a case of the usual suspects, and more a showcase of dark horse candidates.
Vermont’s Dan Gonyaw — who entered as the tourney’s sixth seed — took the win with a 7-2 record and 61.51 percentage (294-of-478). Seventh seed Gary Currier, of Maine, was the runner-up (5-3, 63.32 percent, 252-of-398), while fellow Maine native and fifth seed Doug Kienia finished third (5-3, 61.19 percent, 246-of-402). Top seed Gale Greene, of Vt., finished fourth (4-3, 66.75 percent, 263-of-394), while second seed Raymond Bedard, of Mass., took fifth (4-3, 64.08 percent, 273-of-426).
Riley Malino, of Connecticut, defended his title in the Cadet’s Class A, going 5-0 with a tourney-best ringer percentage of 73.02 (92-of-126) – nearly 50 percent higher than runner-up Tannor Shedrick of Vt. (3-2, 26.56 percent, 51-of-192). David Bliss, of Mass., also defended his title in Elder’s Class A (6-1, 61.31 percent, 206-of-336).
In the junior divisions, Skyla Rioux of Conn. won the girls’ title (4-1, 66.67 percent, 96-of-144), while Dakota Santor of Vt. took the boys’ title (5-1, 16.91 percent, 47-of-278).
The local highlight was Keene’s Karen Gibbs. After winning last year’s Ladies’ Class C title, she moved up and won this year’s Class B tourney (7-0, 44.40 percent, 119-of-268).
Rounding out the winners of the ladies’ classes were Keeley Phipps in Class C (6-1, 34.59 percent, 92-of-266), Shannon Campbell in Class D (6-1, 31.67 percent, 95-of-300), Juanita Ratta in Class E (7-0, 27.30 percent, 89-of-326) and Sarah Barron in Class F (7-1, 23.41 percent, 81-of-346).
In the men’s classes, Tim Comeau won Class B (7-2, 57.14 percent, 208-of-364), Scott Bedard won Class BB (7-0, 56.80 percent, 167-of-294), Larry Davis won Class C (6-1, 44.79 percent, 146-of-326), Eric Medeiros won Class CC (6-1, 44.40 percent, 119-of-268), Roland Carr won Class D (7-1, 36.26 percent, 124-of-342), Izzy Meunier won Class DD (6-2, 33.51 percent, 126-of-376), Jon Case won Class E (7-2, 42.64 percent, 139-of-326), Andrew Briggs won Class EE (6-1, 42.98 percent, 104-of-242), Bill Breen won Class F (5-2, 31.91 percent, 97-of-304), John Gregory won Class FF (6-2, 32.30 percent, 104-of-322), David Brown won Class G (6-1, 26.67 percent, 88-of-330), George Wooster III won Class GG (7-1, 28.74 percent, 100-of-348), Rob Kuczmiec won Class H (6-1, 28.06 percent, 87-of-310), Alan Curler won Class HH (6-1, 21.01 percent, 58-of-276), Mike Karpinski won Class I (6-2, 17.72 percent, 56-of-316), Juan Perez won Class II (6-1, 21.22 percent, 59-of-278), Randy Little Sr. won Class J (5-2, 13.93 percent, 39-of-280), Myron Selleck won Class JJ (7-0, 8.33 percent, 20-of-240) and Pete Rocha won Class K (7-2, 10.63 percent, 34-of-320).
Carl Lanteigne won Elder’s Class B (7-0, 50.40 percent, 125-of-248), while Ricky Hodgman won Class C (6-1, 30.74 percent, 83-of-270) and Richard Mah won Class D (5-0, 31.14 percent, 71-of-228).