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25th Polo Match Marks End Of An Era

Black Hills Polo Club saved the best until last. After a four-year losing streak, it prevailed 8-6 over Hill City’s Rushmore Polo Club in the 25th Annual Picnic & Polo Club match at Newton Fork Ranch.

Sunday, August 30th’s high goal game began with Rushmore seizing a strong lead with captain Tim Gregson posting two goals. It was soon answered by Black Hill’s veteran player Kurt Ketelsen weaving through Hill City’s defense for a shot on goal for a 2-1 score. Gregson responded with another goal that ended the 7 ½-minute chukker, 3-1, in Rushmore’s favor.

The second chukker began looking as if Rushmore Polo & Social Club would handily cinch a fifth straight title after Tim Gregson scored a quick fourth goal. But Ketelsen prevailed and answered the challenge with two goals in quick succession and the first half ended with a much closer 4-3 with Hill City still in the lead.

With riders and horses seeking shade to cool down in the steamy 90+-degree weather, the 150 or so fans took to the field for the traditional “divot stomp” generously hosted by Dan and Mary McNamara of the Harney Peak Inn. With champagne in hand, the crowd went in search of turf that needed replacing. The field was quickly repaired and the socializing commenced in earnest.

Following the divot stomp was the fourth annual “Arleen Lippman Hat Contest.” Mrs. Lippman, former owner of “A&H Grocery” on Hill City’s Main Street, was well known for her fondness for hats. Having owned more than 100, she was rarely sighted without one. Spectators were encouraged to flex their creativity and contestants stepped forward to vie for Sunday’s trophy. As Newton Fork Ranch owner and game day announcer Linda Flounders held a polo mallet aloft behind each competitor, the crowd voiced its approval with applause. In a very close decision, it looked as though local favorite Anne French, last year’s winner may take the title again but she was edged out by visiting Caroline Kelner of La Jolla, CA with a silver cowboy hat decorated in a 25th Anniversary theme.

The third chukker got off to a quick start with Kurt Ketelsen driving a goal for Rapid City to tie the game 4-4. Inspired by his team’s show of force, Duane Lammers racked up another two goals to move Black Hills Polo into the lead, 6-4. This turn-of-events drove Rushmore’s Boe Gregson, Tim’s nephew, into action with a driving goal of his own to end the third chukker, 6-5. After every chukker and goal the ball is thrown in, which kept ball persons Richard Flounders, and Wyatt and Riley Gylten hopping.

The fourth chukker began with fans, and score-keeper Laurie Flounders, on the edge of their seats. It was proving to be one of the most exciting and high-scoring games in years. Ketelsen, a third-generation polo player, came on strong posting yet another goal as Black Hills continued to pull ahead. Not to be deterred, crowd favorite Dan Gylten, sent a strong shot up field to Boe Gregson who piled on another point for Hill City. At 7-6, it was anyone’s guess who would secure the win. That was soon answered by veteran polo player Rich Jensen, who replaced alternate player Susie Lammers, mid-chukker, after an unexpected tumble. He scrambled his way through several Rushmore defensive players to secure the 8-6 win for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club.

Afterwards, fans gathered to enjoy a picnic with lots of delicious food provided by Moni Matush and Wally Matush of the Alpine Inn, former poloist Kitty Pitts, Newton Fork Ranch, and the many guests. The celebrants enjoyed visiting with one another, and relishing the burgers and hot dogs seasoned and served up by the culinary talents of award-winning Grill Chef Bob Stanfiel. It was a bittersweet conclusion to the season as this was the 25th Anniversary and final polo game at Newton Fork Ranch. “It is getting harder each year to gather all the players up and we all agreed that it seemed apropos to end on a high note” commented ranch owner Linda Flounders. Her thought was followed by Chuck Fritzel who said, “Yes, but it will leave a awfully big hole in next year’s social calendar!”

Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Dan Gylten (white #2) moves the ball down field while being closely followed by opposing Black Hills Polo Club’s Rich Jensen (red #4) and Kurt Ketelsen (red #1). Fellow team member Tim Gregson (white #1) brings up the rear.

Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Dan Gylten (white #2) moves the ball down field while being closely followed by opposing Black Hills Polo Club’s Rich Jensen (red #4) and Kurt Ketelsen (red #1). Fellow team member Tim Gregson (white #1) brings up the rear.

Duane Lammers (red #3) playing for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club is neck-in-neck with Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Boe Gregson (white #3) in pursuit of the ball.

Duane Lammers (red #3) playing for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club is neck-in-neck with Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club’s Boe Gregson (white #3) in pursuit of the ball.

Tim Gregson (white #1) performs an off-side shot to move the ball up field while Boe Gregson (white #3) assists. Susie Lammers (red #2) moves ahead to assume a defensive position.

Tim Gregson (white #1) performs an off-side shot to move the ball up field while Boe Gregson (white #3) assists. Susie Lammers (red #2) moves ahead to assume a defensive position.

“Picnic & Polo” at Newton Fork Ranch always includes, albeit sometimes elaborate, tailgate parties.

“Picnic & Polo” at Newton Fork Ranch always includes, albeit sometimes elaborate, tailgate parties.

Conviviality reigns as fans enjoy a glass of champagne and visiting with one another during the traditional halftime “divot stomp.”

Conviviality reigns as fans enjoy a glass of champagne and visiting with one another during the traditional halftime “divot stomp.”

Caroline Kelner (far right), flanked by fellow competitors, is the winner of the “Arleen Lippman Hat Trophy.”

Caroline Kelner (far right), flanked by fellow competitors, is the winner of the “Arleen Lippman Hat Trophy.”

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) looks back at opposing Black Hills Polo member Duane Lammers (red #3) in anticipation of the ball’s direction.

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) looks back at opposing Black Hills Polo member Duane Lammers (red #3) in anticipation of the ball’s direction.

Black Hills Polo Club team member Duane Lammers sends the ball down field with an offside shot as Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) prepares to assist. Rushmore member Tim Gregson (white #1) closes in.

Black Hills Polo Club team member Duane Lammers sends the ball down field with an offside shot as Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) prepares to assist. Rushmore member Tim Gregson (white #1) closes in.

Rapid City’s Duane Lammers breaks away with possession of the ball as fellow teammate Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) and the entire Hill City Rushmore Polo & Social Club pursues.

Rapid City’s Duane Lammers breaks away with possession of the ball as fellow teammate Kurt Ketelsen (red #1) and the entire Hill City Rushmore Polo & Social Club pursues.

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) sends the ball flying as fellow teammates react and Susie Lammers (red #2) moves to defend.

Hill City’s Dan Gylten (white #2) sends the ball flying as fellow teammates react and Susie Lammers (red #2) moves to defend.

Hill City’s Boe Gregson breaks away for a shot on goal while hotly pursued by Susie Lammers (red #2), Kurt Ketelsen (red #1), and Duane Lammers (red #3). Dan Gylten (white #2) brings up Hill City’s aft in the pivot position.

Hill City’s Boe Gregson breaks away for a shot on goal while hotly pursued by Susie Lammers (red #2), Kurt Ketelsen (red #1), and Duane Lammers (red #3). Dan Gylten (white #2) brings up Hill City’s aft in the pivot position.

Last year’s winning team captain Tim Gregson (left) shares in holding the Paul E. Lippman Memorial Trophy with this year’s victorious Black Hills Polo Club captain Duane Lammers (right).

Last year’s winning team captain Tim Gregson (left) shares in holding the Paul E. Lippman Memorial Trophy with this year’s victorious Black Hills Polo Club captain Duane Lammers (right).

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Rushmore Polo Club “Reins In” Another Victory

Last Sunday’s annual polo match at Newton Fork Ranch must have felt like déjà vu for Rapid City’s team captain Kurt Ketelsen.  Although historically the teams are equally matched, Hill City’s Rushmore Polo and Social Club dispensed the opponents with their third defeat in as many years.  Spectators, many who had turned out in their finest hats for a day of polo, were not disappointed by the action.  And the game had special meaning for captains Ketelsen and Tim Gregson, as the match was played in memory of their mothers, Patricia Ketelsen and Alice Gregson, who passed since last year’s game.  Both were faithful fans who, no doubt, were present Sunday in spirit.

The spectators had no sooner clutched the team roster and rules that Samantha Derwin had provided them when, quick as lightening, Dick Flounders threw the first ball in, the play commenced, and Boe Gregson put a goal on the board in short order.  Judy Ketelsen came to husband Kurt’s aid as he moved the ball up field in scoring position for Dan Gylten who, ultimately, was denied a scoring shot.  So although Rapid City responded with equal initial ferocity to Hill City’s bully boy press, the first chukker ended in Rushmore’s favor 1-0.

With Rapid “heavied up” on alternate players, the second chukker introduced Susie Lammers, a Sioux Falls resident playing for her second year and Rich Jensen of Double Diamond Ranch to assist with offense.  Their third rotating alternate, renowned buffalo wrangler, Duane Lammers answered the “call to arms” for the Black Hills Polo Club, making it 1-1 going into half-time.

After the players moved off field to water and rest their ponies, spectators, with champagne glasses in hand, were invited to participate in the annual tradition of “stomping divots” which was hosted this year by former poloist Kitty Pitts.  Friends greeted each other and, as a result of abundant summer rains, the quaking aspen and lush grass made the end-of-season socializing especially enjoyable.

The “bubbly fest” was soon followed by the second annual “Arleen Lippman Hat Award.”   Mrs. Lippman, former owner of “A&H Grocery” on Hill City’s Main Street was well known for her fondness for hats.  Having owned more than 100, she was rarely sighted without one.  Spectators were encouraged to flex their creativity and about a dozen contestants stepped forward to vie for Sunday’s trophy.  As Newton Fork Ranch owner and game day announcer, Linda Flounders held a polo mallet aloft behind each competitor, the crowd voiced its approval.  In a very close decision, crowd favorite Caroline Kelner of La Jolla, CA, in a blue hat festooned with ornate feathers, secured the win.

The Black Hills Polo Club player rotation continued when the match resumed; however, the rested trio comprised of the Ketelsens and Dan Gylten posed little threat to Rushmore Polo & Social Club.  Angela Gregson swiftly sent a shot on goal that severed the tie, making it 2-1.  Despite some terrific defensive maneuvering by Rapid City, Team Gregson was on the offense.  Angela followed up with a second goal to advance her team’s standing to 3-1 in the third chukker.

In the fourth chukker, with a refreshed Rich Jensen, Susie Lammers and, cousin-by-marriage, Duane Lammers rejoining the field, Rapid came out fighting.  Duane Lammers, who seemed to have his nose in every play, ran both offense and defense and provided Jensen the opportunity to score a goal.  Hill City captain Gregson answered the challenge with a swift goal of his own.  Not to be deterred, Jensen, with a chip shot to the corner, posted another goal, making it 4-3.  With the champagne-fueled spectators on pins and needles and flag persons Jim Williams and Maggie Derwin on high alert, Tim Gregson made his move.  With seconds remaining on the clock, he charged the goal and with mallet held high, nailed a near impossible offside neck shot and sent Rapid City a 5-3 farewell note.

Afterwards, fans gathered to enjoy a picnic with lots of delicious food provided by guests, Moni Matush of the Alpine Inn, Wally Matush, and Newton Fork Ranch.  The celebrants enjoyed recapping the game, visiting with friends, and relishing the burgers and hot dogs seasoned and served up by the culinary talents of Grill Chefs Bob Stanfiel and Rich Sitts.

With everyone’s appetite satiated, the afternoon concluded with a surprise concert by Nina McIntire.  A Russian violinist and MFA graduate of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, she and her husband, Gary, live in Germany, yet have property in Hill City. After many years touring the world with European orchestras, she has recently launched her solo career as a pianist.  She treated guests to a repertoire of classical, jazz, and blues music.  Poised against a slate backdrop and surrounded by Newton Creek, she served up a rich dessert of Debussy, Mozart, and Chopin meshed with her own compositions.  Her unique musical creation, “Ivory Fantasy” (www.IvoryFantasy.com) which she has performed in Russia, Finland, and Germany, found a warm and welcoming reception among her charmed audience.  This was a mesmerizing conclusion to a magical day at Newton Fork Ranch.

ImageSurrounded by Rushmore’s Team Gregson (white shirts), Rich Jensen (red #3) moves the ball up field with assists by teammates Dan Gylten (red #2) and Susie Lammers (red #4).

ImageDuane Lammers (red #2) playing for Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club breaks away from Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club Boe Gregson (white #2), as Rich Jensen (red #3) and Susie Lammers look on.

ImageDick Flounders throws in the ball at the start of the second chukker.

ImageAngela Gregson (foreground) sets up for an offside shot for the Hill City team as Kurt Ketelsen (background) of Black Hills Polo Club pursues.

ImageConviviality reigns as fans enjoy a glass of champagne and visiting with one another during the halftime “divot stomp.”

ImageCaroline Kelner (left) wins the “Arleen Lippman Hat Award” and is joined by fellow competitors Laurie Flounders (center) and Moni Matush (right).

ImageDuane Lammers, renowned buffalo wrangler of “Dances With Wolves” fame, breaks away from the pack for Rapid City’s team.

ImageTeam Gregson sets up for a goal with Boe (#2) taking the lead backed by Tim (#3) and Angela (#1) as flag person Jim Williams looks on.

ImageIt’s “all hands on deck” as Rapid City’s Black Hills Polo Club charges for the goal led by Judy Ketelsen (red #2), followed closely by husband Kurt (red #3), Tim Gregson of Hill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club, and Dan Glyten (red #1).  Pursing on the right is opposing player Angela Gregson (white #1) as flag person Maggie Derwin is posed to rule on the action.

ImageRapid City teammate Dan Gylten chats up enthralled fans between chukkers.

ImageBoe confers with wife Angela prior to the post-game awards ceremony.

ImageHill City’s Rushmore Polo & Social Club is victorious once again.  Posing with their mounts: team captain Tim Gregson (left), Boe Gregson (center), and Angela Gregson (right).

ImageBlack Hills Polo Club team member Susie Lammers (red #4) congratulates opposing member Angela Gregson as teammate Duane Lammers (red #2) looks on.

ImageNina McIntire enchants polo fans at a surprise after-game piano concert in the meadow.

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