PLAINS – Tommy Ross was searching the Internet for other athletic competitions when he happened upon information for the Pennsylvania Senior Games, which are held in conjunction with the Keystone State Games.
“I just found out about this by accident,” Ross said during a stop to collect awards at the Keystone State Games/Pennsylvania Senior Games event headquarters at The Woodlands.
Ross, who celebrated his 50th birthday in June, is newly eligible for senior competition and was looking for his primary athletic pursuit of obstacle-course racing. He decided, however, that the latest birthday made the timing right to try something different.
After learning more about the games, Ross, a pharmaceutical representative, decided to combine a trip to Luzerne County for the competition with some work appointments.
“I looked into it a little more and said, ‘I’m age-appropriate now, why not go and check it out?’” said Ross, who has also taken part in competitive martial arts and played “all sports.”
The last two days gave him a chance to show off his variety of athletic skills. It also added fuel to an interest in the National Senior Games, for which the Pennsylvania Senior Games are a qualifier.
Ross left the area Friday with a collection of medals – five gold and two silver – to add to the awards he displays in the office of his home in Oxford, near the Maryland and Delaware borders in Chester County. His athletic accomplishments include three 2016 podium (top-3) finishes in international obstacle-course races, one in Canada and two in the United States.
Ross got started Thursday with wins in the Football Throw and Softball Throw at Kirby Park. He threw the football 163 feet (more than 53 yards) and the softball 201 feet to win the 50-54-year-old division in both events as well as topping all competitors.
Friday was a busier day and gave Ross events to work on more in the future, when he took second in both the 50- and 100-meter dashes at Hazleton Area for the same age group.
“I talked to the guy who got first,” Ross said. “I was really interested in his training. He’s been training for eight years, specifically in track and sprinting.
“I’ve always been fast, but I’ve never done track. I actually went and bought a pair of spikes on Amazon and here I am. … Now, I’m going to train specifically on sprinting.”
The McHale Athletic Center at Wilkes University was next and Ross took gold medals all three basketball shooting events there when no other 50-54-year-olds entered in free throws, 3-point shooting and hot shot. He was most proud of the free throw shooting effort, hitting 12 of 14 (85.7 percent).
Both events offered a 3v3 basketball tournament at Wilkes, but no under-50 teams registered for the Keystone Games.
Four senior teams all played against each other with the New York Legends Silver beating the Lancaster Warriors for the 60-64 year-old title while the other two teams winning their age groups were unopposed.
Pennsylvania Senior Games participants competed in four shooting events, which were also broken down by age group.
David Pindrock won all four events – “21”, 3-Point Shooting, Foul Shooting and Hot Shot – unopposed in the 60-64 men’s group, but also had the best 3-point performance among any of the 14 men and four women entered.
Tom Walsh had the best Hot Shot score and matched the best effort in Foul Shooting while taking three golds and one silver in 65-69 men. Walter Stapleton matched his free throw title while taking three goals for 55-59 men.
Jocelyn Schilling, who took all four 55-59 women’s golds unopposed, had the best women’s score in both Foul Shooting and 3-Point Shooting.
Ross was not the only winner from Thursday’s Senior Games events at Kirby Park.
Rick Gay (55-59), Mark McGahen (60-64) and Robert Jacoby (65-69) each won both throwing events in their age groups.
Schilling, the 55-59 gold medalists in both throws, had the best women’s throws by entries of any age.