Champion defends title in single-jack competition
Skip Leedy of Reno swung a four-and-a-half pound hammer hard and fast enough to drive more than 12 inches into a solid cube of Sierra white granite Saturday afternoon, winning a $2,000 top prize.
Leedy took first place in the 28th annual Nevada Day World Championship for single-jack hard rock drilling.
“He’s been doing it for 20-some-odd years and has just honed his skills,” said Fred Andreasen, a former champion and the event’s organizer.
Taking home the second-place prize of $1,400, Scott Havens of Golconda also drilled more than 12 inches into the rock, but not quite as far as Leedy. Havens was the reigning champion from 1992 through 1996.
Each competitor was handed a cold beer after competing — even those who drilled 3 inches into the rock in their allotted 10 minutes.
Splattered with wet, white granite dust after his run, Tom Ragar of Reno sat in the sun enjoying his beer as the crowd hollered its support for the next driller.
“I can hold it in my left hand,” he joked, nodding at his hammer arm resting limp in his lap.
“I about tied my last one,” he said of his turn at the stone. Last year, he drilled just more than 6 inches.
“I do it mostly for the atmosphere,” he said. “Later you’ll see the bigger names. They go like hell.”
Coming in at third place was Tom Donovan, also a previous champ. With his hole of just over 11 inches, Donovan won $1,100 in prize money.
“Like Leedy, Donovan just gets better and better every year,” said Andreasen.
He said if Tonapah native Brock Boscovich, who took fifth, had had time away from medical school to work out he would have been a contender.
“He’d have been tough, but with his studies he just doesn’t have time,” he said. “He’s a real nice kid.”
Andreasen competed more than 14 years, winning the championship seven times.
“I competed for 14 years then I got tired,” he said. “My lowest place in those years was third.”
He estimated Saturday’s crowd for the rock-drilling at more than 2,000 people. “The whole (west Nugget) parking lot was plumb full and Curry Street was plumb full. Then there was the bleachers. I bet there was at least a couple thousand.”