2004 Alaska Scottish Highland Games champion Eric Wechter left little doubt in defense of his title, winning all seven events along with the open Farmer's Walk at the 24th annual competition at Lion's Club Park in Eagle River Saturday.
With victories in 2002, 2004 and now 2005 to his credit, the 36-year-old from Aurora, Ore., has proven himself to be the top gun.
Nikiski's Tim Johnson finished second in the overall results to Wechter. Johnson finished second in six of the seven events, in addition to picking up a second-place finish in the open Farmer's Walk.
Kenai's Bret McDonald, the only other peninsula entrant, finished third in the overall results.
Having won the Hawaiian Scottish Games in April, Wechter said he considered the events in Hawaii and Alaska to be among his favorites.
"These are fun games to do. They both have one really big event," he said Saturday, in between hefts of a 56-pound boulder (called a stone) for distance.
Athletic events director Tim Kincaid, of Eagle River, said he was pleased by the day's turnout, with seven athletes in the open division, six in the master's (over age 45) division, four in the women's open and 15 in the men's amateur class.
In addition, with four eight-member teams in the "Ton-O-War," the inaugural Kid's Field Events Games and runners in the Kilted Mile, the number of entrants was about the best in the near quarter-century history of the Alaska games, he said.
Kincaid said he had heard that an elderly Scottish couple in Alaska for vacation had stopped in on Saturday's Games and said that the Alaskan games were one of the finest they had attended and that they had tremendously enjoyed themselves.
Approximately 2,200 people paid day-of-event gate prices, said Kincaid, estimating more than 3,000 in all attended. "It seemed pretty crowded to me," he said.
For Wechter, the competition's Road Warrior of the Highland Games Circuit, his next stop is Salt Lake City, Utah, in two weeks.
"We now have eight games a year in Washington, and another five in Oregon. It's getting to the point that you could compete in one every weekend if you wanted to," he said.
At some point, the three-time winner of the Alaskan Games is going to have to bow out, if only temporarily, to have his right elbow operated on.
"I'm going to get it done at the end of the season," Wechter said.
The Kids' event was headed up by Fred Moore of Seward.
Moore, a 10-year participant of the events, said the youth event sported three events a stone toss, a caber toss and a weight-for-height event.
"We have four different cabers, of varying weights and lengths, two different (weighted) stones, and plastic milk jugs filled with water for the weight-for-height toss," he said. "That way, nobody will get hurt. They may get wet, but they won't get hurt.
"But any kid wearing a kilt gets to get in the front of the line. That's the incentive."
Both Wechter and Kincaid hinted at some big plans for the 25th annual games next summer.
"I think Kincaid has some good things in the works for next year. He did some things for the 20th annual (games) that were pretty cool, and I'm sure that he has plans for the 25th one too," said Wechter.
One of the things Kincaid is hoping to do is entice four-time World Scottish Highland Games champion Ryan Vierra to come up early and put on a thrower's clinic prior to the competition.
"He's been the U.S. National Champion eight or nine times, along with his World Championship titles," he said.
Besides, Vierra would be some competition for Wechter, who said he is planning to attend next year's silver anniversary of the Alaskan Scottish Highland Games.
Alaskan Scottish Highland Games
Eagle River Lion's Club Park
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Judges: Bobby Dodd, Beverly, Wash., and Marty Krueger, Anchorage, Alaska
OPEN FIELD EVENTS
OVERALL RESULTS 1. Eric Wechter, Aurora, Ore., 42; 2) Tim Johnson, Nikiski, 32.5; 3) Bret McDonald, Kenai, 25; 4) David Thomson, Eagle River, 23; 5) Jason Deane, Anchorage, 12.5; 6) Joe Carr, Wasilla, 6; 7) Kevin Dolan, Anchorage, 2.5.
Challenge Caber, 20-0 feet, 140 pounds three attempts by Wechter and Johnson - no successful throws.
Top Alaskan, Open Overall Tim Johnson, Nikiski
20-pound Stone Throw (Record - Luke MacKay, 2003, 44-7) 1) Wechter, 32-11; 2) Johnson, 30-4-3/4; 3) Thomson, 30-2; 4) McDonald, 27-10-1/2; 5) Dolan, 26-8; 6) Carr, 25-5-1/2; 7) Deane, 24-1-3/4.
28-pound Weight for Distance (Record - J. McGoldrick, 1993, 79-0-1/2) 1)Wechter, 61-6-1/4; 2) Johnson, 57-5; 3) McDonald, 49-3; 4) Thomson, 47-1; 5) Deane, 45-3; 6) Dolan, 38-2-1/4; 7) Carr, 37-10.
16-pound Hammer for Distance (Record - D. MacDonald, 2001, 129-10-1/4) 1) Wechter, 107-7-1/2; 2) Johnson, 93-8-1/4; 3) Deane, 90-7-1/2; 4) McDonald, 89-2-1/2; 5) Thomson, 84-6-3/4; 6) Carr, 83-1; 7) Dolan, 71-10-1/2.
56-pound Weight for Distance (Record - D. MacDonald, 39-5-3/4, 2001) 1) Wechter, 31,1-1/4; 2) Johnson, 28-5; 3) McDonald, 26-3; 4) Johnson, 22-11; 5) Thomson, 21-3-3/4; 6) Carr, 19-11-3/4; 7) Dolan, 17-3.
22-pound Hammer for Distance (Record - D. MacDonald, 102-11-1/2, 2001) 1) Wechter, 86-6; 2) Johnson, 72-11; 3) McDonald, 71-1-3/4; 4) Thomson, 66-10-1/2; 5) Carr, 65-2; 6) Deane, 65-0; 7) Dolan, 53-0-1/4.
56-pound Weight for Height (Record - J. McGoldrick, 15-5, 1993) 1) Wechter, 12-0; 2) Thomson, 11-0; 3) McDonald, 11-0; 4) tie, Johnson and Deane, 10-0; 6) Carr, 10-0; 7) Dolan, no minimum height.
Caber Toss, 18-0 feet, 83 pounds 1) Wechter, 6 pts; 2) Johnson, 5; 3) McDonald, 4; 4) Thomson, 3; 5) Dolan, 2; 6) Carr, 1; 7) Deane, 0.
2005 Farmers Walk Results (Open and Masters), 2x170 pounds, 125-foot course around pylons 1) Wechter, 346-3; 2) Johnson, 259-9; 3) D. Thomson, 251-3; 4) Flavel, 205-11; 5) Deane, 195-6; 6) Carr, 181-3; 7) Sharlow, 154-0; 8) J. Thomson, 125-0; 9) Dolan, 121-10.
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