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Middletown hosts World Marbles Championship

August 09, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - For Jeff Staus, no amount of hyperbole is too much in describing the importance of the World Marbles Championship being played here this weekend.

"This is the Daytona 500 of marbles," the 15-year-old Middletown resident and former national tournament runner-up said.

The fourth-annual tournament drew 35 shooters - from as far away as Tennessee and New York - to Middletown Park, where they kneeled down on concrete slabs in head-to-head games and tried to become the first to knock 50 marbles out of a 10-foot-diameter circle.

The tournament is loaded with former national and world champions, including tournament director Jeff Kimmell, 29, who won the national title in 1981 and has since become a marbles coach and one of the biggest promoters of the activity in Frederick County.

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"We have some of the greatest shooters in the world here today," Kimmell said.

One of those is 12-year Megan Winkelman, of Frederick, Md., who won the girls' national title this year in Wildwood, N.J.

While she said she was excited about being a national champion, and receiving a $2,000 scholarship that went with it, she was also looking forward to competing for a piece of the several hundred dollars in prize money up for grabs in the worlds.

"I guess this is pretty big because it is the first time I get play for cash prizes that I can put in the bank," she said.

Unlike the national championship, which allows no one over the age of 14, the world championship has no limit, drawing shooters from 12 to 82. The rules state a player must be at least 14 to participate, but Megan receives an exemption because she has won a national title.

Old friendships

Trish Tressler, who won the national title in 1992, said she doesn't play marbles much anymore, but she enjoys taking part in the World Championship because she can renew friendships she made years ago.

"A whole bunch of people from all different areas come together and have fun," said Tressler, 19, who lives in Middletown.

In addition to cash prizes, the men's and women's champions will have their name placed on the Mason Cup, a mammoth 30-pound trophy that is four feet tall and almost two feet wide.

"This is what it's all about, players, to shoot for the greatest trophy in marbles history - the Mason Cup," Kimmell said in his opening remarks to the competitors.

The trophy is named after Gene Mason, a retired parks and recreation director from Cumberland, Md., who runs the national tournament and is a mentor of Kimmell's.

Kimmell said the tournament, which continues today, also serves a purpose in getting shooters interested in a major international championship that will be in 2000 in Paris, France.

"We're really getting excited and getting prepared for that," he said.

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