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Newcomers unseat locals at mullet toss
As far as business goes this summer, the Blue Parrot Ocean
Front Café, and all the rest of the restaurants and vacation rentals on St.
George Island, have the wind at the backs.
But when it comes to throwing mullet on the beach outside
the back door, everyone had the wind in their faces Saturday.
A brisk headwind, on an otherwise pretty sunny afternoon,
kept the distances down at the 30th annual event, returning after being
interrupted last June due to COVID-19.
And, not to take anything away from Dolan Wilson, the
19-year-old Auburn University student who won the male division, but many of
the Franklin County faces, who would traditionally make it a tense duel for local
supremacy, were absent.
Except for Chip Sanders, who managed an unimpressive 88 feet
on his first throw, and then saw his second try explode in the air in a cascade
of guts, none of which landed any farther than his first.
That one was going, said Sanders.
Now staring down age 40, the four-time winner, who began his reign years ago by
unseating Stan Grant, the undisputed GOAT (Greatest of all Tossers), said his falling short of the leaderboard was a
combination of rust and mushiness.
The muscle memory
wasnt there. When you sit around in a year, that muscle memory is then lost,
he said. I hadnt been working out on my arms, I hadnt used the muscle.
Muscle memory is everything.
Sanders, who spends his athletic time these days focusing on
skimboarding, said if his former aerial adversaries had been on hand, it would
have amped up the competitive energy. They would have examined carefully their
choice of ammunition, and kept it on ice, preferring smaller, firmer fish.
Instead, the fish that Blue Parrot owner George Joanos
handed him, was larger than he was accustomed to.
They were huge, you dont want huge mullet, said Sanders.
They were so mangled up from everyone elses throw.
Crowd size and participation numbers backed up the
possibility this claim was accurate. There were ample numbers of children,
youth, women and men who took part, so the fish got thrown around more than a
We would set our fish to the side before the girls, the
boys and then the men, Sanders said. We would always take our fish and pick
them up and put them in another bucket so the fish were full. If (Hunter)
Bartley or (Robert) Wilhoit was there, we would have took those steps.
He ended up throwing just over half the distance of his
longest ever, which is over 160 feet.
My thoughts and mind werent into it, he said. Sanders, an
avid skimboarder, is eying an upcoming trip to Virginia Beach, where hell
compete for Zap Skimboard, out of Venice Beach.
Tallahassees Jacob Hall had the lead in the first round of the mens division,
throwing 121 feet, 11 feet more than Wilson and Robert Mitchell, who each threw for
Halls first of two toss-offs went 98 feet, the same
distance as Mitchells. Wilson topped them both with a 104-foot heave, in his
first time taking part in the mullet toss.
His girlfriend, Kelsei Marxen, also an Auburn University
freshman, and her mother Tina Marxen, were all smiles at his win.
I was actually very nervous going into it, said Wilson.
That wind seemed to help me.
He said he plans to spend his $200 winnings on a nice dinner
for the three of them.
One familiar face, Loismay Provenzano, who grew up in
Franklin County and now lives in Panama City with her husband Kevin Collier,
plans to spend her two Franklins on preparing for the baby the couple is
expecting in the fall.
Provenzano flung the fish 66 feet, three feet farther than
Tara Carr, who won a cooler, and 11 feet farther than Paula Wolfe, from
Jonesville, Kentucky, who has been a regular visitor to the island for 20
years. Best place ever, she said.
Members of the 12-and-under Sandlot baseball team were on
hand to raise money by selling water for their trip at the end of July to
Cooperstown, New York, where they will take part in a World Series ad well as
take in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sadiq Jones earned bragging rights by besting his teammates Nolan
Alford, Kayden Drake, Jeremiah Allen, Karcen Polornis, DreKylan North, JaCorey
Williams, Terrell Williams, Rylan Wood and Colton Armstrong, and winning a fully
stocked Bass Pro Shop tackle bag, and pole, by topping his age group.
Franklin County High School junior pitching ace Wyatt Abercombie won
among the teens, by throwing for 91 feet, and taking home a Nishiki bicycle for
The event concluded with a quartet – Ace Haddock, Paddy
Juarez, Dr. Chad Sedam and Todd McMillian using their handmade PVC pipe cannon,
powered by compressed air, to try to win $1,000 in the freestyle competition by
besting the world record of 533 feet.
They shot their fish just past the 200-foot mark. Not our
best year, said Haddock. We got 450 one time.
Ronnie Randolph, a guitarist who performs weekly at the Blue
Parrot, handled the emcee duties.
A portion of the proceeds will go to Franklins Promise.