Highland Games: Betz Wins in Sterling . . . Wenta Wins in Antrim

If you've been following Francis Brebner's reports on top Highland Games, you're in for a double-sized treat: Francis has filed reports on both Sterling and Antrim.

Sterling Highland Games Scotland by Francis Brebner

Sterling has been the scene of many historical battles over the centuries, but seen battling it out at Sterling Games were the world's number one and two, Sean Betz and Larry Brock against Scotland's Bruce Robb and Craig Sinclair; Australia's Aaron Neighbour; and New York's Will Barron.

Brock said, "It was a fantastic day at the Games, and with the magnificent surroundings of Sterling Castle and the Wallace Monument, I felt as if I had been taken back in time to some ancient mystical past."

The spectators were seven to eight deep, with an estimated crowd of 12,000, who really got behind the throwing, cheering the athletes on throughout the competition. In the opening event with the 16-lb. shot, Aaron Neighbour led off with a putt of 52' 2" that won, with Scotland's Bruce Robb at 51' 4" for second and Sean Betz at 49' 0" for third.

In the 22-lb. shot, however, this time it was Bruce Robb's 43' putt that put a stop to Neighbour's winning in the putts, with Betz in second at 42' 3" and Neighbor in third with 41' 4".

The 28-lb. weight for distance was won with a throw of 86' 1" by Betz, with Brock in second at 83' 5"and Robb in third at 80' 2".

In the 22-lb. hammer, Sean Betz pulled out a winning throw of 110' to just go ahead of Brock at 109' 1", with Scotland's Craig Sinclair in third at 101'.

In the 16-lb. hammer, however, the tables were turned with Brock's 131' 9" throw for the win over Betz, who had to settle for second at 130' 10", with Will Barron in third at 123' 5".

In the open caber, which was 18 ft. long and 180 lb., Robb's 87-degree turn won this event, with Brock in second at 85 degrees and Betz in third at 75 degrees.

The overall placings were first Betz, second Brock, and third Robb.

Both Brock and Betz were happy with their performances at Sterling as "all the throws were done uphill. From Sterling, it was a swift car drive to Troon on the West Coast of Scotland to catch our ferry ride across to Antrim, Ireland. The journey was very pleasant and relaxing and gave us athletes a little time to unwind on the ferry crossing before we prepared for the morning's event, which brought European challengers from all over," said Brock.

Antrim Highland Games  Ireland by Francis Brebner

As the athletes arrived at the Antrim Games, there awaiting them was a crowd of over 20,000 spectators, with the magnificent backdrop of Antrim Castle just opposite the Games field.

The line-up included Americans Sean Betz, Larry Brock, and Mike Zolkiewicz; from Great Britain Gregor Edmunds, Scott Rider, and Craig Sinclair; from Ireland Ray Odwire; and from Poland Sebastian Wenta and brother Lucas Wenta and Polish/Canadian Darius Slowik.  "The crowds were so welcoming to us athletes," Brock said, "I must have spent at least half an hour signing autographs for the fans."

In the opening event of the championships, England's Scott Rider blasted a world-class stone putt of 61' 3" for the win over Poland's Sebastian Wenta, who was second with 58' 5", followed also by Poland's Lucas Wenta with 57' 3" for third.

In the 28-lb. weight for distance, Sean Betz had with a monster throw of 93' 3.5", which could possibly be a new American record if it's ratified and weighs in at the legal weight of 28-lb. exact. In second was the Brockstar at 87' 9", with Sebastian Wenta in third at 85' 8".

In the 22-lb. hammer, Betz surprisingly took the win with 114' 7"over Sebastian Wenta, who had an awesome throw of 111' 6" for second place, just going ahead of Brock at 109' 8" for third.

In the heavy weight for distance, England's Rider, with a toss of 46' 11" took the win over Scotland's Gregor Edmunds, who placed second with 46' 2"; Sebastian Wenta was in third with a toss of 45' 3".

In a very strong field of weight-over-bar throwers, Poland's Sebastian Wenta claimed the win with a 17' toss over America's Mike Zolkiewicz, who made 16' 6" for second and Polish/Canadian Darius Slowik, who took third with 16'.

After the first day, Sebastian Wenta was leading overall, followed by Betz in second and Rider in third.

Going into the second day of competition with the 22-lb. stone, England's Scott Rider once again received gasps of awe as he blasted a putt of 50' 3" for the win; Sebastian Wenta also had a great putt of 47' 9" for second, and Lucas Wenta was closely in the rear with a putt of 46' 5".

In the 16-lb. hammer, Brock made up some vital points with a winning throw of 143' 8"; in second was Betz at 140' 9" and third, Sebastian Wenta at 137' 6".

In the caber, which was 21 ft. and 150 lb., Wenta won with a toss of 11:45. England's Scott Rider came in second with an 11:15 toss to just go ahead of Scotland's Gregor Edmunds, who placed third with an 11:30 toss.

The final event of the competition was the 12-lb. sheaf toss, with Betz and Wenta tying at 28', and Australia's Aaron Neighbor placing third at 27'.

Overall placings were first, Wenta, second Betz, third Edmunds, and fourth Brock.

Betz and Brock added that they both enjoyed competing in Antrim, Ireland, and were now relaxing at their sponsored luxury Northern Hotel in Aberdeen and looking forward to this weekend's World Highlander Championships, which will take place at Scone Palace, Perthshire, and will be filmed for TV as part of a three-part series for Channel 4.

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