Rolley Hole winners include local players

STANDING STONE-The world’s best marble players took center stage here late last month during the 29th Annual National Rolley Hole Championship.

This year’s tournament mirrored those of the past by showcasing the world’s best Rolley Hole players with many in attendance to witness the player’s talents.

NATIONAL CHAMPS-Mitchell Thompson of Tompkinsville, KY and Wesley Thompson of Summer Shade, KY took home the 2011 Rolley Hole National Championship held here at Standing Stone State Park last weekend.

Several close games were played, but the team of Mitchell Thompson of Tompkinsville, KY and Wesley Thompson of Summer Shade, KY took home the national championship, earning their place in marble greatness.

Second-place finishers Robert Emberton of Cave City, KY and Richard Bowman of Tompkinsville teamed up to take the runner-up spot for the second time in as many years, while Clay County residents Russell Collins and Larry Denton of Moss came in third serving as the highest finishing team of locals.

TOP LOCALS-Russell Collins and Larry Denton of Moss came in third in the Rolley Hole Championship serving as the highest finishing team of Clay Countians.

Jeff Kimmell of Baxter, TN and Paul Davis of Tompkinsville rounded out the top four with their finish.

Other events were also held in conjunction with the main event of Rolley Hole.  Four other serious marble competitions, marble making, a children’s marble festival, and live bluegrass music.

“Rolley Hole is considered the Super Bowl of marbles,” said Shawn Hughes, park interpretive specialist and coordinator of the marble tournament, which attracted players from different states and countries this year. “It’s one time a year that all the great marble shooters gather to become the stars of the show and battle for the elusive National Title.

“It’s been a great tool for the park because it’s something no one in the world has and the park event has received media exposure to include the likes of:  ESPN, ABC evening News, Sports Illustrated, Charles Kurault and CBS, Smithsonian Institution, CNN, National Geographic, Southern Living Magazine, Charles Shultz’s Peanuts, and many more.”

The game is played on a 40-by-25-foot dirt marble yard that has three marble-size holes in the center spaced nine feet apart. Playing with a partner, the idea is for players to make the hole or “hole out” 12 times.

The strategy comes by figuring out the best way to keep opponents from making the hole, which often requires skillful hard shots against their marbles, sending them ricocheting across the yard much like sending an opponent’s ball away from the wicket in the game of croquet.

“It’s a game that combines golf, pool, croquet and the strategy of chess, but dead aim is needed,” Hughes said. “Some of these guys can hit a marble 10-12 feet away nine out of 10 times.”

Standing Stone State Park is the only state park with a marble yard, mainly because the best players in the U.S. hail from Clay County, TN, and Monroe County, KY. The Rolley Hole yard is covered by a roof and is open on four sides. Players range in age from 14 to 70.

“It’s just fun, and you’ve got to have a strong thumb,” Hughes said. “With Rolley Hole you’ve got to be smart. It’s a game of strategy combined with the ability to consistently make long shots.

“The game’s level of difficulty, combined with world’s best marble shooters has earned the National Rolley Hole Championship the title as the World’s Most Challenging Marbles Tournament.”

The park, located seven miles south of Celina and seven miles north of Livingston, offers 1,000 acres of natural beauty.

“I believe it is exactly what a state park should be, we’ve got outstanding scenery, a 69-acre lake, beautiful rustic cabins, campground, 10 miles of hiking trails, and of course a southern heritage in marbles that sure to last for years to come,” Hughes said.


Other marble competitions

There were four other serious marble competitions held over the weekend and winners were also named in those events.

TN SQUARE CHAMP-Junior B. Strong of Moss was the Tennessee Square Champion.

Junior B. Strong of Moss and Mike DeGruy of Raleigh, NC were crowned the Tennessee Square champions, with Terry Thomas of Glasgow, KY and Ed Gordon of Tompkinsville coming in second.

Sixteen-year-old Brooklyn Cherry of Moss won the Ringer competition, outdistancing Trevor Norrod of Hanging Limb, TN–who was the runner-up.

TOP RINGER-Sixteen-year-old Brooklyn Cherry of Moss won the Ringer competition.

The winners of the British game were Chad Ferguson, Robert Emberton, Melissa Page, and Richard Bowman.

Another game played was Georgia Rolley Hole.  Jacob Hardy of Watertown, TN took first place in the youth division and Robert Emberton was the top adult.