Area men will pitch in world championship

Gwen Chamberlain
Dombroski demonstrates how a ringer would be determined. If there is a question about a ringer, the official will place a straight edge from one end of the horseshoe to the other. If the straight edge does not touch the post, the pitcher is awarded a ringer. If a dollar bill cannot slide between the straight edge and the post, it is not ruled a ringer.

PENN YAN — Four area men will be traveling to Springfield Ill. this summer to compete in the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association World Championships.

Kenneth Dombroski, of Penn Yan, Bob Trank of Dundee, Ron Salyer of Branchport and Albert Buckland of Hammondsport will be among the 1300 pitchers competeing for about $170,000 in total prize money in the 100th anniversary event held July 27 thorugh Aug. 8.

Dombroski and Trank, who will be traveling together with their wives, will pitch on the same days, but they will pitch in different divisions. Last year, when the championship was held in York, Pa.,

Dombroski, who had a 23 percent ringer average, competed against 15 others and finshed in seventh place.

Trank competes in a different division, but both local men also play in local horsehoe leagues.

But pitching in a world championship tournament is different from pitching in a recreational league. First, you must be a sanctioned competitor, and your horseshoes must meet the strict specifications of the tournament. A fraction of a weight difference or a bent horseshoe could mean trouble.

Dombroski says the cost for horseshoes can vary from $52 to more than $450, but Trank quickly points out that you don’t see too many $450 pairs of horseshoes in this area.

Officiating is another issue at the championship. Dombroski says referees carefully watch the pitcher’s feet, to make sure there is no violation of the foul line, and the determination of a ringer can depend on the thickness of a dollar bill.

Both men say the sport is a fun way to relax, whether they are competing in a league, a major championship event, or in a friendly, back-yard game.

“You get to meet an awful lot of nice people,” says Dombroski.

This two-week tournament is held once each summer to crown a World Champion horseshoe pitcher in each of eight divisions – Open Men, Open Women, Senior Men, Senior Women, Elder (short-distance) Men, Junior Boys, Junior Girls and Junior Cadets (9-years old and under). There are 88 different classes in all, according to Dombroski.


he Prairie Capitol Convention Center will be equipped with 50 portable, clay-filled  horseshoe courts for the 2-week event. Most competitors will pitch for three days; five games each day. There are 1330 total entrants from 45 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces. Competition will begin by 7 a.m. each morning through the first week, with a break for NHPA convention and Hall of Fame banquet on Sunday, then will resume by 7 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3.

Current Men’s world champion, Alan Francis of Defiance, Ohio, who recently appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America will be defending his title as well as trying to set a new record for championships. He currently has fourteen.  Alan boasts a ringer average of 89.56 percent.

Alan will have stiff competition for this year’s title.  He is the top ranked pitcher in the U.S., and is being contended by numbers 2, 3 and 4 – Brian Simmons, Jim Walters and Dan Watson. Also in the mix is Canada’s number one, Tom Galina, as well as their 2nd, 4th and 6th ranked men, Drew Becker, Andre LeClerc and Stan Leis.

Sue Snyder of Kentucky, seven-time Women’s World Champion, will be defending her title again this year.  Sue tops the Natstat women’s rankings with an 86.62% ringer average. The rest of the top ten ranked women in the United States and Canada’s top female, Sylvianne Moisan, will be vying for the title as well.

To follow the event online or to learn more about the National Horseshoe

Pitchers Association, visit or contact NHPA 2nd Vice President, Tina Hawkins through the website.

Ken Dombroski pitches a horseshoe as Bob Trank waits his turn.