These kids played for all the marbles

Boys and girls ages 7 to 14 competed Friday at the Washington County Marbles Championship at Greenbrier Elementary School.

Boys and girls ages 7 to 14 competed Friday at the Washington County Marbles Championship at Greenbrier Elementary School.

April 26, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

The contenders crouched to the floor, determination etched on their faces. A steady gaze at the target, a flick of the thumb and another marble bit the dust.

Boys and girls ages 7 to 14 lined up at Greenbrier Elementary School on Friday to take aim at the Washington County Marbles Championship. Marbles are serious business in Washington County, home of the last two national champions.

For the first time this year, girls had their own championship competition, said Randi Hulse, one of the organizers.

For each game, 13 marbles are arranged in an X-shaped formation in the center of a ring. The goal is to knock seven of them out of the ring; the first player to do so is the winner.


It was the second marbles tournament for Ashley Siebeneicher, a fourth-grader at Greenbrier; the first was a school tournament held earlier this year. She said she also played for fun at a friend's house, "but we had bigger marbles. This is a lot harder."

Tim Ratliff, the 2001 national champion, was referee as Siebeneicher and the other girls vied to become Washington County's first female marbles champ.

Marbles competition is a family affair for Jeremy Hulse, 14, whose brother, Jonathan, is the 2002 national champion. Although this is the Smithsburg Middle School student's first year to compete, he had high hopes for winning the county championship and going to the June national tournament in Wildwood, N.J. After all, his brother taught him how to shoot. And, he said, "I practice a lot, about an hour a day."

He also practices with several other players at a regulation marbles court in Middletown, Md. His father, Chuck, said a number of parents are trying to raise money to construct a similar facility at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway.

With one champion in the family, Jeremy Hulse said he felt a little bit of pressure to perform well.

"This is my first and last year to compete in the nationals," he said.

His competitor for the championship was Brent McMurtrie, 7.

Though quite a bit younger, McMurtrie had already shown himself to be a good sport. When an earlier competitor's shot proved disappointing, McMurtrie assured him that "that was real good, Michael."

The trophy went to Hulse. As runner up, McMurtrie was presented a bag of marbles.

The final girls' match pitted Lauren Cronise, a third-grader and the Greenbrier school champion, against fourth-grader Amanda Martin. Amanda won the fifth game in the best-of-five match and claimed the trophy.

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