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Smithsburg teen second at marbles tournament

August 07, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

MIDDLETOWN, MD. - A national champion in his sport, Jeremy Hulse said he once tricked his friends into playing against him.

"I think I told them we were going out for a pizza, but then we played marbles instead," said Jeremy, 17, who will start his senior year at Smithsburg High School in August.

Not long before some of his classmates take part in grueling two-a-day football practices, Jeremy was concentrating on a sport far more sublime. Over the weekend, the one-time U.S. Marbles Champion notched a second-place finish at the national event in Middletown, Md.

Molly Kimmell, 24, of Frederick, Md., who was the women's champion, said her thumb still was bleeding Sunday from the rigors of shooting marbles with the country's best.

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"The older I get, the less I play, so the skin is kind of separating from my thumb right now," Kimmell said.

According to Jeremy, who started playing the old-fashioned game three years ago, shooters use a marble of specified dimensions to knock other marbles out of 10-foot diameter circle.

When he's playing, Jeremy said a typical round can last 1 1/2 hours. He's a slow shooter, he said.

"He shot great. I'll tell you, he's a great shooter," said Jeff Kimmell, the founder and director of the U.S. Championship tournament. He was a U.S. Champion in the master's division as a 35-year-old in 2004, according to the event's Web site.

Robbie Nicholson of Reynoldsville, W.Va., a multi-year champion, was first in this year's men's division, Jeremy said.

For his efforts, Jeremy said he took home $100. It will probably go toward gas, he said.

The son of Randi and Charles "Chuck" Hulse, Jeremy said he learned the sport from his brother, Jonathan, and his brother's friend.

They practiced for about two days before the two-day competition, he said.

Jonathan Hulse and the friend both were eliminated during the event, he said.

"You can play one person a dozen times and have a dozen different games," Jonathan Hulse, 18, said.

Though he shoots pool and plays golf, Jeff Kimmell said he believes no sport presents the level of challenge marbles participants face around the circle.

"It's not like Tiddly Winks where you can pick it up, and you're great. It takes years and thousands of hours of practice," he said.

The Kimmells, who have been married about a year, met playing marbles, they said.

"We probably play a couple of times a week, and I can't tell you who's better," Molly Kimmell said with a laugh.

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