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Facilities employee makes mark at Highland games


When one talks about a big man on campus, that honor could certainly go to OTC’s Robert Dale, a facilities employee on the Springfield campus for the past five years.



When Dale attended Ava High School, he was just a 150-pounder who didn’t play sports. Today, Dale is an imposing figure at a muscular 275 pounds, the former power lifter is taking his strength talents to a new area Highland games, competition that stretches back to the days that were captured in the movie “Braveheart.”



“I wanted to stay in the strength games and not stay as sore as long as I did after a lifting competition,” said Dale.



So, Dale picked the traditional Scottish competition to use his strength.



I’m only sore for a couple of days instead of a week,” he said.



The games are events held throughout the year in the Scotland Highlands. The standard games include:




The caber toss: The competition involves the use of a long tapered pine pole or log that’s stood upright and hoisted by the competitor who balances it vertically holding one end in his hands. Then the competitor runs and tosses it so that it turns end over end with the upper end striking the ground first.



The stone put: Similar to the modern-day shot put as seen in the Olympic Games, in this version a large stone of variable weight is often used.



Weight over the bar. The athletes attempt to toss a 56-pound weight with an attached handle over a horizontal bar using only one hand.



Dale has been competing for a year in the Masters level for those over 45 years old and has competed in six games.



“One of the advantages to Highland games over lifting is that you can train by yourself in the games competition. In lifting, you need someone to spot for you in case you cant handle the weight,” he said.



One of Dale’s best events is the weight over bar. He’s thrown the weight over a bar 17 feet high. He’s also excelled in the sheaf toss that requires him to take a 20-pound sheaf of straw jammed in a burlap sack and toss it vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar.



Dale has gotten very involved in the sport and is now organizing his own games in Springfield, one of which was held last weekend.



“This sport has been around longer than any other except wrestling. We have participants who are 71 years old. Two are over 50,” Dale said. “It’s great. It gets you off the couch and away from the TV.”


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