Braving the elements, Bob Francis and his horses Rusty and Cherry won their second straight Heavyweight Pony Pull National Championship at the Hillsdale County Fair Monday.
Hailing from Bellevue, Ohio Francis has been involved in pony pulling for almost 40 years, and with a pull of one foot at 2,900 pounds his team won their third national title in four years, adding another shiny trophy to their collection, and taking home $175 in prize money.
With the rain picking up steadily the ponies were struggling to find consistent footing, but Francis said dealing with the weather is nothing new to veterans of the sport.
“It makes it a little harder to get them on, and it’s slippery,” he said. “We’ve been doing this a long time though, and seen every kind of weather.”
He said while he doesn’t practice in the rain, he knows his horses well enough to be able to control them properly.
Francis owns nine horses and he had three teams in the heavyweight pull, taking first, second and fifth.
He said he grew to love the sport because his father competed while he was growing up and he “just has a good time doing it, doesn’t get old.” He has competed in approximately 25 pulls since the beginning of the summer.
It was far from ideal conditions and challenging the world record of 3,150 pounds was barely an afterthought.
A team owned by Jim Weilnau of Milan, Ohio took third and a local team owned by Kevin Sattison took fourth.
Sattison is from Montgomery, and another one of his teams placed 10th.
In the lightweight pony pull, the fair saw another repeat champion, as the team owned by Len and Jim Busenbark took first and second, with a full pull of 14 feet at 2,300 pounds to win it and a pull of 12 feet at the same weight to garner runner-up honors.
The first prize reward was $145 for the team from Monroe, Mich.
A team owned by Tim Eggleston of Hastings placed third with a pull of two feet at the final weight.
The local teams owned by Cory Bump took seventh, eighth and ninth, with both Cory and Ashly Bump driving.
The heavyweight trophy was sponsored by the Pizza Barn and the lightweight trophy was sponsored by The Finish Line.
Academy boys down Blissfield in soccer
The Hillsdale Academy boys soccer team beat Blissfield 5-0 Monday to improve to 9-2 overall.
The game was scoreless for the first 23 minutes as Hillsdale Academy had several good scoring opportunities, but couldn’t find the net.
Then Nekoda Cartwright scored the first goal on an unassisted shot that slipped by the Royals goal keeper. Cartwright scored again with just 13 seconds left in the first half off of a long goal kick by keeper Peter Sullivan, to give the Academy a 2 – 0 lead at the half.
In the second half Daniel Karlovich scored 10 minutes into the half on a pass from Cartwright.
The final two goals were scored by Sawyer Moss, within 40 seconds of each other both on passes from Eric Lisznyai with 15 minutes to play.
The Academy defense and goal keeper Peter Sullivan notched its fifth shutout and has allowed just two goals in the last seven games. Their next game is against Onsted on Monday, October 5, at 5:00 at Hillsdale College.