Pit spitting’s new roll modelPublished 5:29pm Sunday, July 8, 2012
EAU CLAIRE — International cherry pit spitting has a new roll model.
Ronn Matt, 46, an unemployed truck driver from Chicago, interrupted the Krause dynasty to end a long dry spell for everyone else Saturday at Tree-Mendus Fruit’s 39th annual pit spit.
While lack of fresh fruit played more havoc than heat in getting the event rolling, Matt’s 69-footer landed the novice the championship belt ,which had not left the first family of pit spitting in 12 years.
As 15-time-winner and pit-riarch Rick “Pellet Gun” Krause of Tuba City, Ariz., battled for second with 61 feet, 2 inches, over younger son, Matt, third with 60 feet, 11 inches, defending champion and world record holder Brian Krause sputtered to 52 feet, 10 inches.
That put “Young Gun” behind Pastor Kevin Hester of Coloma in a Tim Tebow Jets jersey (55 feet) and Dowagiac Union High School guidance counselor Randy Luthringer of Niles (53 feet, 6 inches), but ahead of Edwardsburg football coach Kevin Bartz of Niles (44 feet, 9 inches), Mike Lynch of Hawaii (43 feet, 4 inches), Josh Bernstein, an English teacher from Santa Monica, Calif. (44 feet, 1 inch), Curtis Fitch of Gaines (45 feet, 6 inches) and “Machine Gun” Mike Cook of Naperville, Ill. (41 feet, 5 inches).
Brian Krause, who holds the 93-foot, 6½-inch world record set in 2003, won his ninth title in 2011 at 66 feet, 1½ inches.
“I’ve always talked about coming here to do this. It was completely spontaneous,”
said Matt, who has been visiting Hartford for the past 18 years.
“My (late) mom always told me spitting wouldn’t amount to anything,” said Matt, who stands 6-foot-4. “I’m a two-time champion of the peach pit spit at the Coloma Glad-Peach Festival, so I thought I’d try this. I just winged it. I never spit a cherry pit, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was watching the Krause empire over there earlier. Those guys are for real, but I think I can hang with them.”
Krauses presented Matt with the 30-year-old champion belt Rick’s best friend’s dad, now deceased, made.
“It’s the first time in 12 years we’ve had to give it away,” Brian said.
“My first two didn’t roll,” Pellet Gun said. “The last one, I put too high or I think it would have made it. All three of mine beat his second one, but he caught that first one and it took off. A lot of it is just luck. It’s usually hot, and there’s usually a cross wind. No excuses, but the thing that messed me up was using frozen cherries because there are none on the trees” after an unseasonably warm March followed by April frosts, which decimated buds.
Contrary to a media report, founder Herb Teichman said cherries were not imported from Poland.
“Even though it’s warm, I expect some distance today,” he predicted, though announcer Kay McAdam from Cass County found her shoes sticking to the asphalt court.
“It wasn’t like eating a tart cherry off the tree,” Krause said. “It was fair for everybody, but the texture of small, cold pits was different. We usually practice when we get here Friday night. We went to the store and bought sweet cherries just so we could practice. Sixty-nine’s a good spit. Matt and I both had one over 60, which would have won any other time. He got a good roll, and we congratulate him. Conditions were good for a long spit.”
Youth 5 and under
Joshua Hester, Coloma
15 feet, 4 inches
Youth ages 6-8
Zach Bartz, Niles
24 feet, 3 inches
Youth ages 9-12
Chloe Bartz, Niles
30 feet, 7 inches
Joe Lessard Sr., Canada
41 feet, 6 inches
Lisa Lynch, Colorado
Tags: Cherry Pit Spit