The only place bushes, flowers or grass don’t cover the well-kept lawn at the central Lawrence home of Wynne Mihura is near two horseshoe pits.
“I do all the yard work myself,” the 89-year-old Mihura said, adding that she seldom uses the horseshoe pits because they’re often too wet from drainage. When she really wants to pitch, she heads to the pits at Broken Arrow Park a few blocks to the south, she said.
Mihura is also the director of the Lawrence Horseshoe League, which meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at Broken Arrow. It's there that Mihura practices for the local, regional and state National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America competitions. She loves catching up with friends at the tournaments but she's not just there to socialize. She's a competitor who won the 2000 NHPA world title for her age group in Bismarck, N.D.
But she hasn’t been able to pitch much lately because of a broken wrist she suffered more than a year ago.
“I took time off because I broke my wrist,” she said. “It was my left wrist, but I had a cast up to my elbow. It threw off my balance. You can’t pitch off balance like that.”
Take note, competitive horseshoe pitchers near and far: Mihura is back.
Mihura won gold on June 14 in her age group at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Ala. Mihura will celebrate her 90th birthday on July 17, but was placed in the 90-to-94 age group for the National Senior Games competition. The only other competitor was a North Carolina woman.
She won despite not throwing that well, Mihura said. She was still shaking off the effects of a bad fall she suffered just before she traveled to the games with her son, Terry Benson. The nontraditional pits at the Alabama competition also threw off her game, she said.
“Women pitch at 30 feet, always,” she said. “For women 75 on up, they had us pitching from 20 feet. I just wasn’t used to pitching in 20-foot pits. I thought I did terrible, but my son said, ‘Mom, you won.’ It was frustrating for me, but it was also exciting.”
Her son said Mihura adjusted during the match, winning 25-19.
“After 24 shoes, they were tied at 18,” he said. “In the last six throws, Mom had a couple of ringers and pulled away.”
Mihura is a people person and had a great time at the event despite being less than pleased with her performance, Benson said. With the gold, his mother proved she was ready for a pitching comeback, he said.
It won’t be long before she will be pitching her favorite Mustang brand silver competition shoes in local and regional tournaments, Mihura said.
“We have a tournament coming up July 2 in Broken Arrow,” she said. “I’ve already sent in my forms for the state tournament. We always have that Labor Day weekend. It’s in Ottawa this year. I just had a slow go with the broken wrist, but I’m ready to go.”