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Duo breaks gender barrier in washer tourney

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, July 27, 2013

After six grueling hours, working their way through the ranks of 82 rival teams, Allie Handlon and Brady Boyd emerged as champions of the 2013 “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament.

Held Tuesday night, under a rising gold full moon, it was the fourth annual installment of the tournament at Wise County Old Settlers Reunion.

Golden Touch

GOLDEN TOUCH – Allie Handlon and Brady Boyd earned a year’s worth of bragging rights after capturing gold at the 4th annual “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Handlon became the first female to ever place, much less win it all, in what has become a staple of the annual gathering.

“This is all Reunion is about now,” Boyd said.

Handlon entered last year, but got knocked out in the early rounds. This year was a different story.

“In Lubbock, this is what we do every single day,” said Handlon, a Decatur High School graduate who is entering her second year this fall at Texas Tech University. “I practiced a lot this year on the game boards.”

Handlon quickly became a crowd favorite as the pairs of teams were weeded out throughout the night.

“It was three-deep all the way around the perimeter of the playing boards,” said tournament organizer Carey Williams. “It was lit up better than a high school football playoff game. And when it got down to the end everyone pulled their chairs and benches up close to watch.”

HAND TOSSED – Cruz Niblett of Decatur works on his arc while playing a game of washers at Wise County Old Settler Reunion at Joe Wheeler Park in Decatur. More than 80 teams competed in the washer tournament Tuesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It was nerve-wracking,” Handlon said. “I felt like I was going to throw up the entire time.”

But her nervousness didn’t show as her cool play under blazing light towers led her and her partner to victory.

It was Boyd’s second time to get gold. He and Kyle Parker won it all two years ago.

“I’ve got another gold medal to hang up,” Boyd said.

But he credited Handlon’s sure shots throughout the tournament for their success.

“She carried me the entire time,” Boyd said.

Brothers Chase and Zane Lasater finished second.

“We weren’t even going to enter it this time,” Zane said. “We just decided to get it. It was pretty nice being able to come back and win second. I’m just glad it wasn’t the Williams or the Chapmans winning it.”

The gold medal remained elusive for Chase Chapman and Kyle Jenkins. But they found their way to the medal stand for the third time in only four years, taking third after winning silver in 2010 and 2011.

“The Lasaters were tough,” Boyd said. “But the player who got in your head the most was Chase Chapman.”

Skill at washers appears to be genetic. Chase Chapman’s 10-year-old son, Dane, and his 13-year-old cousin Tyler Chapman, finished fourth after sending hordes of veteran players home early.

The winners take home medals and a modest cash prize.

“It’s not about the money,” Williams said. “It’s about the pride. That’s what I really like about it.”

The event also raises money for – this year more than $4,000 – for the Decatur Chamber of Commerce.

“I appreciate everyone who came out and supported it,” Williams said.

Williams wants the event to grow large enough to set a world record.

“There is a guy in Minnesota who claims to have the largest washer pitching tournament,” Williams said. “He claimed it had 192 teams. Next year, with it being the fifth year, I want to try to get the word out and set the world record here at the Wise County Reunion. I think it’s an experience everyone would want to be a part of.”

This year, the gender barrier. Next year, a world record?

Anything can happen at Reunion.

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