Washed out: Game harder than it appears

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, July 28, 2018

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STEP RIGHT UP – More than 100 teams competed in the Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is washer tournament at the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion Tuesday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

There is an art to pitching a washer.

Some will tell you it’s all about the angle of the washer when it hits the board. Others argue it must have a slight spin as it is released from the shooter’s hand. Some think the more adult beverages they consume, the more accurate they become.

But one thing is agreed upon by all.

Reece Waddell

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Carey Williams, who has organized the Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is Washer Tournament for the past nine years. “There’s a certain skill to it. It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination.”

Since 2010, the washer tournament at the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion has drawn large crowds. It set a Guinness record in 2014 for the largest washer tournament with 486 participants.

The marathon event lasts well into the morning, with more than 100 teams duking it out for bragging rights and a cool $100 prize.

This year, Decatur alumni Bryce Elder and Cade Lamirand took home the title, knocking off Kyle Parker and Dylan Rottner in the championship.

The moment was special for the Elder/Lamirand duo, who have been competing together the past four years. In fact, Elder flew home to Decatur from California Monday night just to compete in the tournament.

Elder has been in Santa Barbara playing in the California Collegiate League. He played baseball at the University of Texas last year, going 6-1 with a 5.55 ERA over 35 and two-thirds innings.

In his senior year at Decatur in 2017, Elder went 7-2 with a 0.60 ERA and led the Eagles to the 4A Region I final.

Now, he can add Reunion washer champion to his resume.

“It was really fun,” Elder said. “I enjoy coming back to Reunion every year. I think I’ve missed it one time my whole life. I love coming back – and winning it always helps.”

Elder said the key to winning at washers is all in the technique. When you finally master how to properly throw the washer, it comes down to which teams make a run.

“Once you figure out how to put the right tilt on it where it hits the board and sticks, it’s whichever team gets hot,” Elder said. “We happened to get hot at the right time [Tuesday] night.”

Elder and several others made it look a lot easier than it actually is.

Despite a loaded playing field – and against our better judgment – my colleague, Austin Jackson, and I decided to enter the tournament with minimal experience. Donning Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys jerseys, we weaved through the horde of spectators and onto the field for our first game.

It was over in five minutes.

The tandem of Addison Nation and Dillon Duren made quick work of us, cruising to a 21-1 victory. Several times during the game I landed a washer on the board, and each time it caromed off.

The other times I threw, my washer spun, twirled and danced in mid-air.

“Maybe y’all did not have a proper throwing technique coming into the match,” Duren joked. “You want to spin it down so it hits the board at an angle.”

One game from elimination, we entered our second match against Cody Cook and Roland Gentry. That game, too, ended in defeat, as Cook and Gentry easily advanced, 21-1.

There were more bright spots in the second match, but I still could not land a washer on the board.

“It’s all about the form,” Cook and Gentry said. “A nice, smooth spiral with a good grip.”

Washers may look easy, but there is a level of intricacy required to get a piece of metal only 2.5 inches long to land on a piece of wood.

Maybe it was the lack of beer, or maybe it’s that we were just plain outmatched.

It was probably the latter.

Reece Waddell is the sports editor of the Messenger. Austin Jackson also contributed to this report, as well as the losses, and is a general assignment reporter for the Messenger.

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