One of the more interesting stories from this summer’s Sunflower State Games came in the shooting competitions, where one family stood out among the top sharp-shooters in the state.
Three generations of men from the Hardesty family came away with medals from the games, which featured a total of 7,222 athletes competing in 47 different sports. Ethan Hardesty, 14; Jeff Hardesty, 52; and Don Hardesty, 80, each won medals in late July in their respective age groups for the Sporting Clays competition at Topeka’s Ravenwood Lodge. Jeff and Ethan both took silver in their age groups, while Don took gold. Ethan also won a silver medal for his 3-D archery skills at the South Topeka T.H.E. Archery Club.
This was the first time competing for Jeff and Ethan, both of whom flew in from Phoenix, but Don said he’s been competing about 10 or 12 years in the Sunflower State Games.
“(Ethan’s been shooting) for about the last year and a half,” Don said. “I had to do some searching around to help get him a nice 20 guage for learning to shoot, and we got that done and while we were doing that he also met some guys who were archers and he got over into that, shooting bow and arrow.”
Don said his son moved to Phoenix a while back to build an internet service provider company.
“When he was young, I used to take him hunting and when he was young he got a turkey with a bow and arrow, and he wanted his son to do that, too,” Don said. “I was so tied up into the forming of the Kansas Wild Turkey Federation, I was their chairman for maybe three or four years right at first, but Jeff and I used to hunt wild turkeys over in Missouri at the Hoosaw State Forest, and so we got together with another bunch and they were all interested in getting turkeys in Kansas and that’s when they asked if anyone there had ever hunted turkeys before, and I think I was the only one who raised my hand so that’s how I kinda got stuck with that.”
Ethan has only been shooting and doing archery a short time but has already made some impressive shots. Ethan was pictured recently in The Topeka Capital-Journal with a double-bearded tom turkey he shot in the head with an arrow while bow hunting with his dad near Holton.
“They came in twice to hunt last year,” Don said. “I didn’t go with them one time — that was when Ethan got the headshot on a turkey — and we hunted pheasants again, but that was at Ravenwood. Kenny (Corbet) set that thing up for us. I’m sure we’re going to (hunt again) this coming year.”
Don is now looking to compete again in the 2017 Kansas Senior Games, which features shooting events Sept. 16-17 at Ravenwood Lodge. This will mark his first year competing in the Senior Games.
OUTDOOR SPORTS ENTHUSIASTS NAMED SSG ATHLETES OF THE YEAR: Organizers with the Sunflower State Games also unveiled the 2017 Athletes of the Year on Wednesday. Kjrsten Abel Ruch, 41, of Lawrence, was named the female athlete of the year, while Chuck Remboldt, 52, of Perry, was male athlete of the year.
Abel Ruch medaled in Orienteering and Adventure Racing, receiving gold and silver, respectively. Orienteering is a group of sports that require navigational skills using a map and compass. She is the program director of healthy lifestyles for the YWCA of Northeast Kansas and has competed in the games since 2012.
“One of the biggest reasons I participate is to spend time with my husband doing something we both enjoy that tests us mentally, emotionally and physically,” Abel Ruch said in a news release. “I like meeting the competitors and the ability to get to know them after each event. I have become friends with many of the participants and enjoy seeing them at other events throughout the state.”
Remboldt earned a gold medal in Mountain Biking for the fifth consecutive year. He works as a KC-135 refueling pilot for the Kansas Air National Guard and also competes in Cyclocross and Gravel Races. He enjoys hiking, camping, golfing and snow skiing.
“The Sunflower State Games provide a goal for individuals to stay committed to working out regularly. For me, these games are a huge driving force to stay healthy and active,” Remboldt said in the release. “The camaraderie among the participants gives me great joy. It is always fun to hang out before and after events, to socialize and to cheer on others who are competing. The atmosphere is festive and inviting.”
If you missed the opportunity to compete in the 2017 Sunflower State Games, there are still opportunities yet to come to get active.
The 2017 Kansas Senior Games run Sept. 14-24 and the OctoberFast Kids Fitness Run will be Oct. 28 with registration at 8 a.m. at the Sunflower Soccer Association, 4829 N.W. 17th in Topeka. On Nov. 18, runners and walkers will be able to compete in the Winter Wonderland 5K to benefit TARC, beginning at Reynolds Lodge on Tinman Circle, and in April 2018 the Topeka Corporate Games will kick off.
NORTHCENTRAL KANSAS OUTDOOR YOUTH FAIR COMING UP: The annual Northcentral Kansas Outdoor Youth Fair will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 9 in Osborne.
Activities will include archery, wingshooting, fly fishing, rifle and muzzleloader shooting, canoeing, trapping, whittling, biking, among others. All equipment and supplies will be provided.
All youths ages 17 and younger are invited to attend, though participants younger than 14 must be accompanied by an adult. All participants must be pre-registered by 11 a.m. the day of to receive lunch and be eligible for prizes.
For more information and to register, contact Cleo Hahn at (785) 346-4541, John Cockerham at (785) 346-6527 or Chris Lecuyer at (785) 218-7818.