Niles spitter wins top youth spot

Published 8:16 am Tuesday, July 5, 2005

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily News
EAU CLAIRE - On a day of disappointing distances dominated nonetheless by three generations of the Krause clan, Brian "Young Gun" Krause, 27, of Dimondale, won his fourth straight championship at Saturday's 32nd annual International Cherry Pit Spit Championship.
Young Gun's 53 feet, 4 inches, at Tree-Mendus Fruit sealed his sixth title and edged his dad, a 12-time champion and former world record holder.
Rick "Pellet Gun" Krause, 51, of Arizona, who first won 25 years ago in 1980, has given up his shortlived career as a semi driver and returned to teaching elementary school physical education.
The man in the cherry-red army helmet kneeled to chuck his second pit, trying to enliven the contest. Pellet Gun claimed second at 50 feet, 11 inches.
Ed Kuypers of Oak Lawn, Ill., finished third with an even 47 feet, disappointing "bridesmaid" Nick Cook at 45 feet, 4 inches. Tom Westgate of Holt managed 41 feet.
Alexis Haimbaugh, 12, of Niles, won the age 9-12 youth division at the 32nd Annual International Cherry Pit Spit at Tree-Mendus in Eau Claire July 2 with a spit of 34 feet, 11 inches. She also won in 2004 with a better 40 feet, 9 1/2 inches. She was the only top slot winner who wasn't from the Krause family.
Contest organizer Herb Teichman said the weather was beautiful for spectators, but something about the stillness of the day and warm, but comfortable, temperatures diminished distance.
In the past quarter century, "Pellet Gun" and his eldest son have piled up 18 International Cherry Pit Spit titles and appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.
Krause teaches Hopi and Navajo Indian children at Moencopi Day School, where his wife Marlene assists with special education children and drives a bus.
He tried truck driving for a year and a half, but "it's hard. You're gone constantly."
Krause first set the Guinness Book world record, 65 feet, 2 inches, in 1980.
He dominated the competition with a showman's flair through the turn of the century, winning a dozen times and setting a 2001 distance mark, 69 feet, 3 1/2 inches.
Brian first challenged the self-proclaimed king of pit spitting's dominance with his 1994 win, 61 feet, 6 inches.
Young Gun broke the then-existing competition record in 1998 with a 72-foot, 11-inch heave. That record stood until the last 2003 spit when Brian defended his title by exceeding 93 feet.
Women's division
Marlene "Machine Gun" Krause, 42, of Sanders, Ariz., 38 feet, 7 inches. She married Rick at center court nine years ago at the 1996 spit. This was her fifth victory. Machine Gun also won in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000.
Ann St. Amand, 41, of St. Joseph, 38 feet, 4 inches. She was shooting for her fourth straight, but perhaps in tribute to Live 8 she ate one of her montmorency stones live at the line, the untimely swallow leaving her with just two chances to match her success in 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Last year the aquatic ecologist reached 46 feet, 1 inch.
Amanda Jennings, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, 33 feet.
Youth division
Cole Krause, 3, Dimondale, 12 feet, 4 inches (under 6).
Braden Krause, 8, Dimondale, 25 feet, 8 inches (ages 6-8). Pellet Gun's grandsons are the sons of Brian and Megan Krause.
A third son, Morgan, 1, is not slated to enter competition until next year, according to his mother, the family's only non-competitor.
Alexis Haimbaugh, 12, of Niles, 34 feet, 11 inches (ages 9-12). She also won in 2004 with a better 40 feet, 9 1/2 inches.
Jim Burkhart of Bloomington, Ill., the 1982 international champion, 33 feet, 10 inches. In his prime he could beat 60 feet.
Berrien County Judge Charles La Sata, the former St. Joseph mayor and state representative, 25 feet, 4 inches, despite competing on crutches because he tore his achilles tendon playing basketball.
Carlos Gomez, Spain, 19 feet, 6 inches.
Retired judge John Hammond achieved his lifetime best, 17 feet.
Miss Eau Claire-Sodus Anna Glassman, 15 feet, 7 inches.
Runner-Up Michelle Neidlinger, 11 feet, 7 inches.
Cass County commentator Kay McAdam unveiled "Take Me Out to the Pit Spit," which she and Teichman sang.
Notably absent was the second family of pit spitting, the Joe Lessards of Ontario, Canada. They had a wedding to attend.
Reader's Digest recognized Eau Claire as the "Cherry Pit Spitting Capital of the World" in its July 2003 issue. Herb Lemcool and Joan Boss represented the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City.