Zach Riley crushed the competition at the IHGF All-American series at the Dublin (Ohio) Irish Festival and will advance to the IHGF All-American Championships in September.
2017 Dublin Irish Festival: Rising Star Riley
by Francis Brebner
International Highland Games Federation
Zach Riley, a rapidly rising star of the Highland games in only his second year of competition, pulled out a very impressive all-round performance, with a clean sweep of all the events in what was the last qualifying stage of the IHGF All American series at the 2017 Dublin Irish Festival. Riley will advance to the finals of the IHGF All-American Championships at the Great Plains Renaissance & Scottish Festival in September.
The Dublin Irish Festival is the biggest Irish gathering in the U.S. and attracts about 110,000 spectators over its three days of Celtic festivities. The Highland games has been a prominent feature of the festival—and what a day it was for Riley. My first impression of Zach was that of a powerlifter, with his huge, powerful stature, but in talking with him I found out he has only been throwing for two years in the Highland games and has never powerlifted in his life, but was a former college hammer thrower with a best of 240; he is a kinesiology professor at IUPUI by occupation.
Over the course of the games Riley won every event, breaking the field record in the 22-lb. Braemar stone and setting a new world record of 18’ 1” in the Amateur A group division weight over bar, previously held at 18’ by Andy Vincent.
Ten contenders made up the A class, including Riley, Josh Beatty, Garrett Blatnik, Brandon Crawford, Justin Blatnik, Jake Harris, Justin Kaye, Max Mays, Chris Sickler, and Ryan Stoltz.
In the 22-lb. Braemar stone, Riley finished with a best of 40’ 7-1/4” for the win and a new ground record. Second place was a close tussle, with G. Blatnik nudging ahead of Stoltz at 36’ 8-3/4” to 36’ 6-3/4”.
In the 18-lb. open stone, Riley was the only athlete to exceed 50’, with a noble putt of 50’ 11” for the win; G. Blatnik was second with 46’ 3” and Stoltz third at 45’ 1-1/2”.
Riley went up a gear in the 56-lb. weight for distance with a series of throws all over 40’, knocking out a best of 41’ 4” for the win. Second place was again a skirmish, with G. Blatnik going ahead at 33’ 10” to Stoltz’s 33’ 6”.
In the 28-lb. weight for distance Riley delivered a superb series of throws, his best being 83’ 6” for the win. G. Blatnik was second at 69’ 6-1/4” and Mays third at 66’ 6”.
In the 22-lb. hammer Riley took top honors with a distance of 99’ 8-1/2”. J. Blatnik followed at 89’ 6-3/4” with G. Blatnik third at 84’ 8-1/2”.
The 56-lb. weight over bar was a highlight of the competition as both G. Blatnik and Riley went all out, both clearing 17’ and Riley setting a new world record at 18’ 1”. He took three attempts at 18’ 6”, with one of the throws sitting on the bar. Stoltz, Mays, J. Blatnik, and Crawford tied at 13”.
The caber, at 19’ and 110 lb., was won by Riley, who did three 12 o’clock tosses. Stoltz and J. Blatnik each also nailed a 12 o’clock toss.
In the 16-lb. sheaf over the bar, another world record attempt was made by Riley, who won the event at 37’ and then asked for the bar to be raised to 40’ 6” and came close but not enough on his three attempts. Second place was G. Blatnik at 30’, with a tie on third by Stoltz and Crawford at 27’.
1. Zach Riley 8
2. Garrett Blatnik 20
3. Ryan Stoltz 25.3
4. Justin Blatnik 34
5. Max Mays 43
6. Josh Beatty 57
7. Jake Harris 58.5
8. Brandon Crawford 58.5
9. Justin Kaye 59.5
10. Chris Sickler 67
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