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Marble tourney a friendly competition

Sunday - 5/6/2012, 2:00am  ET

marble.jpg
Dominic Rudakevych takes a shot during a match Saturday at the Middletown Recreation Council's marble shooting tournament for boys and girls up to age 14 at the Middletown Park marble rings. (Bill Green/Frederick News-Post)

A trip to the national tournament in Wildwood, N.J., was on the line, but Saturday's marble shooting tournament at

Middletown Park was anything but fierce.

The competitors are all friends and siblings, and they cheered loudly even when they were losing.

Eleven-year-old Marilyn Fisher beat her twin brother, Cooper, in a matchup.

"I didn't really want to beat him," she said shyly. "I am the only girl, but it's just fun.

"It's way different than other sports because it's not as competitive. It's just fun to play with your friends and cheer them on."

Dominic Rudakevych and James Bongard were locked in an amazing match. Although Dominic had the "perfect game" of marbles, winning on consecutive shots, James was cheering him on for accomplishing the feat -- known as a "stick."

Dominic was looking to repeat in qualifying for the tournament.

He also plays soccer but has really enjoyed marbles since he started playing about two years ago.

"I like this because it's more relaxed and you can take your time with it," said Dominic, 11.

James, also 11, said he just started playing marbles last year after seeing his friends getting involved.

"A lot of people don't know about it, but it's definitely fun," he said. "I'm getting better."

There's a lot of strategy involved with shooting marbles, Marilyn said.

The object of the game is to knock marbles out of the center of a large circle using a marble squeezed between the shooter's thumb and index finger.

"It has to do a lot with math," Marilyn said. "You have to scale up your shot."

The Frederick County Knucklers team has been around for years in Middletown but started to die out a few years back.

Art Staus, who got involved with marble shooting years ago when his son was young, is a big reason for the sport's local resurgence. He serves as director of the Knucklers and coaches many of the kids in the leagues. They play on marble courts that he helped install at Middletown Park.

The Fishers and Dominic qualified to travel to Wildwood for a chance at the national title. A second tournament scheduled for two weeks from now will decide the winners from the rest of Frederick County -- two boys and two girls -- who will join in the hunt for the crown for best mibster.

This will be the 89th year of the national tournament.

"To put it in perspective," Staus said, "it's been in existence longer than the Little League World Series."