Youngsters test agility at Barnyard Olympics

August 01, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

SHARPSBURG - Months of painful, agonizing training?


Gold, silver or bronze?

Try again.

How about the high-dollar endorsement contracts?

Not a cent.

The youths who participated in Saturday's Barnyard Olympics at the 24th annual Washington County Ag Expo had only one thing on their minds.


"Let's beat them!" screamed Sam Myers, 13, as he dashed onto the field at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center. Myers' Red Team tied for second in the six-team competition.

Myers and Andrew Lowery, 12, had been sitting outside the fence Saturday morning watching their competitors go through the time trials for the obstacle course - a formidable one at that.

First, the contestants would dash out with a balloon. The balloon would have to be popped - sandwiched between the runner's rump and a hay bale - before the runner could continue over the fence.

Once the fence successfully was scaled, the runners would duck and crawl through a stack of hay bales. Next, the tires - tricky, quick-step tires - and finally, the barrel roll before rounding the orange cone at the end and dashing back to continue the relay.

The obstacle course was the third part of the four-part competition of Saturday's Barnyard Olympics for the older children. A less competitive option was available for the youngest entrants.

The competition for the older children also included the balloon toss, the sack race and the dreaded "cow" milking.

(No cows actually were used in the cow-milking contest, for safety's sake. Instead, entrants squirted water into a cup from a plastic bottle with a nipple on it, the type usually used for feeding lambs or other small animals.)

Hannah Smith, 16, was the Red Team's leader. Asked what it is that drives competitors to win, with no medals or other major stakes in the game, she simply said "to win. ... It's pretty much bragging rights."

Myers added "to rub it in everybody's faces."

But, alas, it wasn't the Red Team's day. And luckily, for Myers and the others, it did not appear that anyone rubbed anything in anyone's faces.

The Blue Team, the Red Team's direct competitor, edged everyone, with key wins on the obstacle course and the "cow" milking.

Nancy Hill, 57, the grandmother of a Red Team member, said her granddaughter, Danielle Hill, 6, had been looking forward to the competition. But she may have foreshadowed the Red Team's loss.

Asked if Danielle had studied any videotapes from previous years, seeking faults of her competitors, Nancy Hill's answer was no. Any serious training? No. Asked if the team had any secrets weapons, the answer was no.

Nancy Hill said the closest thing to a secret weapon for the Red Team may have been "just some determined boys."

"It's more or less a fun thing to do, and the kids love to do it," Nancy Hill said. "It's more or less a family thing."

But the danger of the sport still was inherent. Nancy Hill said she recalled Greg Louganis' near-tragic dive in the 1988 Summer Olympics, when he gashed his head during a dive from the 3-meter springboard.

"Nothing quite has happened like that, thank goodness," Nancy Hill said.

But as she was speaking, one of the Blue Team members catapulted himself over the fence, cartwheeling down at an awkward, fast pace. But either by fate or skill, he landed on two feet.

The size of the stakes appeared to be of no consequence to the level of competition, Nancy Hill said.

"Some of the kids take it pretty serious," Nancy Hill said.


Following are the results from Saturday's Barnyard Olympics at the 24th annual Washington County Ag Expo:

First place: Tess' Blue Team

Second place (tie): Hannah's Red Team and Jess' Green Team

Third place: Denton's Black Team

Fourth place: Mandy's White Team

Fifth place: Beth's Orange Team

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