Rotary Double-Hitter scores fast runs and a hole-in-one...

Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2005


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  John Gibson hit a hole-in-one at the Midnight Sun Golf tournament last week.

John Gibson hit a hole-in-one at the Midnight Sun Golf tournament last week.

The world famous Rotary Midnight Sun Golf tournament, traditionally held on summer solstice weekend, was postponed this year due to the weather. The next open weekend just happened to fall on the same date that the Soldotna & Kenai Rotary Clubs had scheduled the second annual Rotary Unity 10mile/5K run. Race organizers Steve Stenga and a host of volunteers were at the Unity Trail site at 5:30 a.m. setting up the course and finish line. By the time the final runners had arrived at SoHi, it was time for the same host of volunteers to strike the race site and move over to Birch Ridge to set up for the Midnight Sun Golf Scramble.


Having fun in the Midnight Sun Rotary Golf tournament, Charlie & Lori Weimer, and Tanya & Tom Boedeker

About 100 runners/walkers participated in this year's Rotary Unity Run on a warm sunny Saturday morning, with Soldotna High School alumni claiming top honors in both the 10 mile and 5K runs. It was 2000 SoHi grad Brandon Newbould setting his trombone aside to finish first in the 10mile run with a time of 56:12, followed by Mark Blanning and Kent Peterson. Ryan Walton, a 2004 SoHi alumni blazing the 5 K trail from Glacier Pontiac Buick GMC to his alma mater in a time of 19:34. Coming in behind Walton were Max Best and Anton Weissenberg. Arianna Goldstein a 2005 SoHi grad picked up 1st place honors for the women's 10 mile run with a time of 1:05.20, with runners up Gerri Litzenberg and Patricia Shipley. Cook Inlet Academy freshman Holly Kopp took the women's 5 K with a run of 21:55. followed by Sarah Walton and Jessi Stenga. Plans are already underway for next year's run according to Steve Stenga who feels that the race has gotten off the ground very well and is looking for more runners to participate, "This has turned out to be a nice fund raiser for the Kenai and Soldotna Rotary Clubs, we put the proceeds back into the community. We've had about 100 runners the last two years and I think we're ready to double that next year," said Stenga.


Rotary Unity 10 Mile run winner Brandon Newbould and top 6 finishers in last week's race.

When race sweeper, Soldotna Rotarian and Borough Mayor Dale Bagley followed the final runner across the finish line on his roller blades, it was time to strike all the equipment and sound stage and move over for the Midnight Sun Golf Scramble at Birch Ridge golf course in Soldotna. Famous barbeque master Jerome Near was starting to show a little fatigue just when a spotter on the par 3, #6 hole came running in yelling that someone had just gotten a hole-in-one on number six. Tournament official and creator Sam Best jumped in a golf cart and darted out to the tee, where the new Buick was parked, to start filling out the paper work. After talking to the spotters and reading the rules to win, it appeared that a golfer from Anchorage, John Gibson, would be driving home in a new $25,000 dollar 2005 Buick compliments of Glacier Pontiac Buick GMC.

It was the first hole-in-one ever recorded in the 20 year history of the Midnight Sun Golf Tournament and Rotarians were just about to start running for some champagne when Gibson came through the half-way shack and informed Best that the hole-in-one was on a Mulligan. "It was a Mulligan hit, the first hit was a choke shot and none of us were safe, so we decided to use one of our Mulligan's we had bought and I hit the Mulligan in for a hole-in-one," Gibson told Best.

The hole-in-one counted on the score card, but didn't win the car, "It was my very first hole-in-one and I don't have any mixed feelings at all, I'm just happy that it happened. It was pure luck, but I'm proud it happened," said Gibson. Gibson's hole-in-one also stands as the first in the 20 year history of the world famous Midnight Sun Golf Scramble. John Gibson is an assistant fire chief at an Anchorage fire department and plans on keeping his day job, but coming back to play in next year's Midnight Sun Golf Scramble. The hole-in-one wasn't good enough to win the tournament for Gibson's team either, as a tight finish saw four teams coming in with exact scores. In the chip off to break the four-way tie it was Rotary Club presidents Mike Bookout and Wes Keller that finally took home the bragging rights and 1st place prizes for the 2005 Rotary Midnight Sun Golf Scramble.

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