Mesa Mibsters all finish in top 10 in national tournament

Katie Carozza lines up a shot at the marbles circles in Lincoln Park. Carozza was one of four Mesa Mibsters who competed last week in the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J.. Carozza finished second in the girls division

Kyle Krabbe, left, and Anna Lee, center, and Katie Carozza, right, competed last week in National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J., along with Jonathan Blair, not pictured. Lee won the sportsmanship award, Krabbe finished fifth, Carozza finished second and Blair finished fourth.

The Mesa County Marbles team is a national contender.

Last week, at the 88th annual National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J., the Mesa Mibsters had four shooters finish in the top 10.

Grand Junction’s Katie Carozza, 11, finished as the girls runner-up in the tournament, which has shooters ranging from ages 7 to 14.

This was Carozza’s second year at the tournament — she finished outside the final eight last year. Carozza, who will be attending East Middle School this fall, said the attention paid to her match was a lot different once she reached the finals.

“It was scary because everyone was staring at me,” Carozza said. “Whenever I would miss or anything would happen, they would announce it on the microphone.

“It was embarrassing.”

Carozza said a better understanding of the outside factors of the Jersey Shore helped with her improvement.

“You can’t focus on the boardwalk or the carnival rides,” Carozza said.

The other three Mibsters were Anna Lee, 9, Kyle Krabbe, 14, and Jonathan Blair, 12.

Blair finished fourth out of 23 in his first time attending the tournament.

Lee won the sportsmanship award, which comes with a $500 scholarship. Lee did a few things throughout the week to earn the award.

“The first day was really rainy and I was freezing and shivering cold, but I still didn’t complain,” Lee said. “After every single shot, I gave (her opponent) a compliment. When I reported my scores to someone, they never knew if I won or lost because I was always smiling when I came toward them.”

Lee joins Krabbe as a national sportsmanship award winner. Krabbe won the award in 2010, and this year, finished fifth in his final year of competition.

“You learn a lot about the sportsmanship part of sports,” Krabbe said. “That can help me later in life.”

Krabbe said he’ll keep shooting marbles, but plans to focus more on golf, basketball and baseball when he enters Palisade High School this fall.

“It was great for meeting new friends,” Krabbe said. “And I got a lot better since I started.”

The Mesa Mibsters are coached by Leah Lee, who takes four competitors to New Jersey every year. She said it’s a lifelong memory for the players that go.

“They gain friends that will last forever,” Leah Lee said. “Plus the city of Wildwood is great, they donate amusement park rides, and it’s a lot of fun for them.”


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