Venable Pair Wins World Championship of Ride & Tie

Rhonda and Dave Venable of Toano, won the 47th Annual Ride and Tie World Championship, held on Saturday, July 22 in Orkney Spring, VA. Twenty-eight teams from across the country participated in the 35-mile race, which was held on the East coast for the first time ever this year. Ride and Tie has a long history in the West, where it was first sponsored by Levi's in 1971.

In their eight years of competition, the Venables had won yearlong point championships three times, as well as the past two East Coast Championships; however, this was their first world title.

The Ride and Tie event is unlike any other. Participants alternate between endurance riding on horses, and trail running on their own. The race distances can vary between 20-100 miles.

Strategy is the key. In order to complete the race, each team must get all three members (two humans and one horse) across the cross-country course by alternately riding and running. A favorite strategy is for the rider, being faster, to gallop ahead and tie the horse to a tree before beginning his/her running portion of the race. Subsequently, the team member who started off running on foot will reach the horse, untie it, mount and begin riding, all the way past the first runner. The leapfrog type of activity continues throughout the course of the race, and the strategy comes from deciding where and how to make the necessary exchanges.

Rhonda rode first on her horse Dakota for a 1.25 mile leg. She estimates that her and Dave alternated every half mile, but said that “the distance gets shorter if the competition is catching up.” This year, she said that “someone was within two minutes of us for most of the race.” The Venable couple pulled away at the end and their winning time of 5:43:12 was almost seven minutes ahead of second-place Karen Isaacs and Beth Brinkley.

Dakota was also honored at the race’s end as the best conditioned horse of the top-10 finishers. Said Rhonda, “the vets go over all of the horses very thoroughly.”

Additional background on Ride and Tie is available on the website 

Rhonda Venable is a teacher at Crittenden Middle School in Newport News, former cross-country coach at Bethel High, and a past president of the Peninsula Track Club. She and husband Dave relocated from Yorktown to Toano in June, and trained at York River Park for the final six weeks leading to the event.

Other area residents who competed in this year's Ride and Tie Championship include sisters Chelsea Portwood (Virginia Beach) and Alison Zeytoonian (Smithfield), and Greg Bradner (Yorktown), who partnered with his daughter Megan Wilson of Springfield, Virginia.



Josh Prinzel (circled) was invited to the third round of the
MLB Pitch, Hit and Run competition, held at Nationals
Park in Washington, DC.
Joshua Prinzel of Yorktown recently spent a day at Nationals Park that was quite different from what most of us are used to.

Prinzel, a 14-year old star pitcher for Tabb Middle School and his York District 7 Junior team, recently advanced into the third round of the national MLB Pitch, Hit and Run competition, earning him a chance to perform all three baseball skills on the same field that Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper call home.

It was the culmination of a fascinating year for Prinzel. First, his Tabb Middle team won the middle school district championship and finished undefeated for the first time in school history. From there, the young pitcher transitioned to his York District 7 team, which won the regional championship 7-2 over Deer Park, with the fireballer striking out 11 in the finale.

Still, his biggest athletic moment this summer may have come from the result of a suggestion.

“One of my coaches suggested that I try out for Pitch, Hit and Run,” said Prinzel, who was unaware of where the path would lead.

On a Saturday in early May, Prinzel showed up to the York County Sports Complex to try his luck in the 13-14 age group. Because of baseball games taking place around the complex, the athletes were allowed to toss their six baseballs for strikes from 45 feet, hit a baseball off a tee for distance, and then allow themselves to be timed on a run from second base to third to home at any point in the day.

For this reason, the rising Tabb High freshman completed his circuit and then went home, not knowing how he placed, or even how many other players took part in the event.

That was until almost a week later when he received a call inviting him to compete in the regional competition at Harbor Park in Norfolk.

A couple of weeks later, Prinzel and his father Lance left Yorktown “very early” to make the 7:30 AM start time, as the event took place before the Saturday Tides game. This time, Prinzel got to see who he was up against.

“There were about 15 for each age group,” Asked about nervousness, he added, “I thought I had a shot (to win), but just wanted to have some fun.”

However, Prinzel, being a natural pitcher, jumped to a great start in the Pitch portion, then held his own in the hitting, leaving only the Run to complete his turn.

“I didn’t know how I did in the other two events, but don’t think I won the hitting or running,” said Prinzel, who once again left the ballpark unaware of his placing.

Again, several days passed before the phone rang again. This time, it was from Jason Bethea, the national point-of-contact for Pitch, Hit and Run, who called to inform Prinzel that he had advanced to the next round, and that his next stop would be Nationals Park in Washington, DC on June 11, as one of the top-three finishers in the Washington Nationals viewing market.

Although Prinzel did not make the top-three nationally to earn a trip to Miami for the “World Series” finals during All-Star week, he did draw attention from one important sports outlet. During the Hit portion, Prinzel drove a ball off the tee well over 300 feet, a feat worthy of his baseball hero and Washington National, Bryce Harper.

His father Lance happened to be sitting next to the representative of Major League Baseball’s website, MLB.com, and recalled the words he heard.

“He said that he had never seen anyone that age hit a ball that far off the tee,” said the elder Prinzel. In a moment’s notice, the MLB.com representative turned into reporter and captured the Yorktown resident for an on-field interview, which was featured on the MLB.com website and can be found at:  http://m.mlb.com/news/article/235746274/nationals-host-pitch-hit--run-competition/

Over 600,000 athletes in eight age groups took part in this year’s Pitch, Hit and Run competition. In spite of not making the Miami event, Prinzel placed in the top-30 nationally for his age group.


Sarah Osborn Wins USA Rifle Shooting Nationals

Hampton’s Sarah Osborn, the nation’s top high school recruit in rifle shooting, won the USA Shooting 3PAR match in Camp Perry, OH on June 22-23.

The 3PAR is a three-position precision air rifle match, and an event which the recent Summit Christian Academy graduate captured last year.

With the win, the 18-year old completed her junior career as a three-time National Champion for USA Shooting, and two-time national champion for CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) 3PAR precision air rifle. In August, Osborn will begin her collegiate studies at West Virginia University. She will also be the prized newcomer for the Mountaineers rifle squad, which won its fifth consecutive NCAA rifle team title in March.

At the time of her signing last November, Mountaineer rifle coach Jon Hammond said, “We’re really excited to add Sarah to the WVU rifle program. She has shot at the national level for many years. Sarah is not only a talented shooter, but she’s also very motivated and a hard worker. She also places a lot of value in academic success. Sarah is a great fit for this program.”  

Osborn, who learned how to shoot as an eight-year old when her father bought a BB gun for her older brother as a Christmas present, scored a 591 out of 600 possible points. Although the score was somewhat lower than usual for her, it was good enough to put her in second place entering the finals, where she matched Justin Kleinhein of Ohio shot for shot, before finally overtaking him to win by .02 points.

Osborn’s performance helped to propel her Patriot team, which also included Michael Zanti, Shae Cardwell and Owen Goad, to a second-place team finish of 46 teams.