Ner­vous bat­tle to take NZ ti­tle

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN

A South­land green­keeper dis­cov­ered a tal­ent he never knew he had when he beat 84 other con­tes­tants to be­come the na­tional cherry stone spit­ting cham­pion for 2016.

Dave Kowalewski, 38, of Wyn­d­ham, man­aged a 11.3-me­tre spit, im­press­ing an en­thu­si­as­tic crowd gath­ered at the Cromwell Her­itage Precinct.

‘‘It is my first New Zealand ti­tle. It feels pretty cool eh. I have a na­tional ti­tle; who would have thought?’’

Kowalewski was stay­ing in Cromwell on hol­i­day with fam­ily and went to the precinct to have a look, never imag­in­ing he would en­ter in the com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘When I saw how far they were spit­ting, I thought, ‘flip, that is a long way’ but I chucked two bucks in and started spit­ting.’’

He used more of a blow­ing tech­nique than spit­ting he said.

As the com­pe­ti­tion heated up, the nerves started to take hold and at one point he nearly swal­lowed the stone.

‘‘A pre­vi­ous win­ner came out to have a crack and he passed me so the pres­sure was on. Be­cause he was a pre­vi­ous champ, this guy knew what he was do­ing. He was pol­ish­ing his stone and ev­ery­thing ... I hardly ever eat cher­ries. It was fun but I am a ner­vous per­son and my nerves started to get quite bad. I nearly swal­lowed a stone on my sec­ond at­tempt. The judge ac­tu­ally said, ‘don’t swal­low it’ and I had to cough it back up.’’

Christchurch’s Ni­cola McDon­ald spat 7.1m to take the women’s ti­tle, and in the ju­nior sec­tion Ai­den O’Con­nel from In­ver­cargill was the winning boy with 6.8m.

Lucy Sawyer, of Christchurch, took out the girls’ sec­tion with 5.65m.

Cromwell and Dis­tricts Pro­mo­tion Group spokes­woman Brigitte Tait was de­lighted so many vis­it­ing fam­i­lies got in­volved in all as­pects of the day.

‘‘It’s been a lot of fun, great to see the adults tak­ing part in the messy sport of cherry cream pie eating, as well as spit­ting stones.’’

JILL HERRON

Win­ner Dave Kowalewski from Wyn­d­ham and an­nouncer Greg Wilkin­son from Cromwell.

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