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Heat, rain, controversy threaten tournament, but in the end Penners reign over field

DUBLIN, Ohio – To score or not to score, that was the question.

In a tight championship match of the first annual Pelotonia Cornhole Classic Saturday, Mike and Stephanie Penner literally were sweating out a 1-point lead over Kyle and Ryan Precht. With temperatures in the 90s and imminent severe weather threatening to roll in and cancel the festivities, the deciding verdict in this seesaw matchup rested in Stephanie’s finger tips.

Holding what could be the final beanbag in game No. 36 of the 17-team tourney, Stephanie’s uncertain intent quickly transformed into steadfast purpose.

Stephanie: “So I don’t want to score. I don’t want to throw on the board, right?”

Mike: “No, no. If you make it in the hole (for a 3-point score), we win!”

Stephanie: “Oh, Okay.” … and SWISH!

Stephanie’s textbook strike – targeting the midpoint of the board and finessing home the 3-point drop – set off a midfield embrace between the husband and wife tandem comparable to an Olympic figure skating team that just finished the performance of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

“I think it took the pressure off,” Stephanie said. “Mike said to make it in and I made it in. First of all, it’s rare that he is right and it’s definitely a rarity that I actually listened to him. Ha ha.”

The Penners spent the remainder of the day basking in their tossing triumph. But just as the ominous skies overtook Dublin shortly after their victorious celebration, clouds of controversy began to swirl.

Upon reviewing photos from the tournament, host and event director Scott Neeley noticed a potential misstep in Mike’s throwing motion.

“A still frame showed Mike stepping past the front of the board on one of his throws in the finals, which could lead to disallowing the particular turn and any resulting points,” Neeley stated.

Pat Kindig was presiding as an unofficial official of the match and was in perfect position to make a call,” Kyle Precht said. “I don’t really know what he was doing? What else was there to watch? This was a great game. Who knows what goes on in that guy’s head? I certainly don’t. I feel like the Detroit pitcher who lost his no-hitter because of that umpire. Pat was right there. Make the call!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of Kindig’s lapse, the Penners were not penalized and carried on to victory.

“The storm clouds were pretty cool looking,” Kindig said. “I was checking them out. Plus, I had just finished my second burger and brat combo and was in kind of a food coma. I guess I was unfit to officiate.”

Fittingly, the situation seemed to be comparable to that of Dustin Johnson’s questionable ruling this weekend on a sand trap infraction at the PGA Championship.

Upon further review, Johnson was penalized two strokes and denied an opportunity to win the tournament in a playoff.

Citing Section G of the International Cornhole Rules Book, Neeley offered his official interpretation of Penner’s possible “Corn Bag Foul.” He issued this statement Monday:  

“Since the alleged foul was only discovered upon review of photographic evidence and not called out by either a judge or opponent at the time of the foul, the results of said throw, the game and the tournament shall stand as originally decided by the players. We are not the PGA and will not take away a result earned within the rules after the fact.”

The drama of the final match certainly did nothing to overshadow a day that saw a variety of skill levels meeting for one good cause.

Both the Penners and the Prechts donated their championship and runner-up prizes back to Neeley and his Pelotonia fund. Neeley will ride in the event this weekend.

Penner, who saw his lucky Milwaukee Brewers “Sausage Race” T-shirt perhaps play a role in avoiding what could have been a disastrous penalty, also will be a Pelotonia participant.

“Hey, it’s only cheating if you get caught,” Penner said.

He has a meeting scheduled with the compliance office this week to discuss his gamesmanship.

“I had no plans on finishing second today, so I had budgeted the 100 bucks to go back to Scott’s fund,” Penner continued. “I had planned to win this event because I know I don’t have much of a chance to win the actual bike race.”

Despite all that surrounded the match, the Prechts took the tough loss in stride.

“Mike and Stephanie always win these kind of games. You would think I’d be used to it by now,” Kyle said. “After they won, I turned the evil eye I sent at Kindig their way for a couple seconds, but I shook it off. We made a good run and she made a great shot. I was just glad we got out of there before the bad weather hit. I did not want to read the headline ‘Man struck down by lighting during cornhole match’ in Sunday’s paper. “

In the end, Neeley’s Pelotonia fund was the winner.

“It was a great day. Everyone had fun,” Neeley, who raised $450 Saturday, said. “We had some great competition, some great food and even Kindig didn’t whine and cry and take his boards home after my wife’s little sister eliminated his team in the opening round. Although maybe he should have. We saw how much he helped out as an official and he took an extra trip through the food line. I’ll have to charge him double next year.”

 

 

 

 

 

* All photos: Play slideshow

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