WILDWOOD — Brandon Matchett planted a kiss on Bailey Narr’s cheek and it was official.
The pair from Allegheny County, Pa., were the new king and queen of marbles after winning Thursday’s championship matches in the 88th National Marbles Tournament.
The crowd cheered at the kiss, a traditional part of the ceremony, after the king and queen are crowned.
“It was very exciting,” Matchett, 12, said of the moment he won. Matchett defeated his good friend Jordan Narr to take the boys’ title.
“He worked really hard practicing,” added Robert Matchett as he and wife, Heather, spoke about their son’s big win on the Wildwood Avenue beach.
This year marked his third trip to Wildwood, home of Ringer Stadium and the National Marbles Hall of Fame, and he practiced five hours a day preparing for the tournament.
“We knew all the work he put into it,” Robert Matchett said.
His mother said she was “a nervous wreck” as she watched the championship game, which started earlier than usual at about 10 a.m.
Brandon, who started playing marbles in the second grade, said the tournament was as much about marbles as it was good sportsmanship and making new friends.
“It’s something different from playing video games,” he said. “It gets you out of the house.”
Brandon’s coach, Ed Ricci, is father of the 2008 girls champion.
“He earned it,” Ricci said of Brandon’s victory. “We just help them along. They do the work.”
The Pittsburgh area in Allegheny County is home to several past winners, and many of them also help coach younger players.
“It takes a village to make it happen,” Ricci said.
Jordan Narr, 13, smiled for his friend after the win and said the game is simply about having fun.
“It’s more fun than tough,” he said.
After her win, Bailey Narr, 11, (Jordan’s cousin) was doused with water and silly string as she and her family and friends celebrated.
She practices almost every day, but credited her coaches with her win.
She plays for the same reason her cousin Jordan plays. “Because it’s fun,” she said as her parents, Dawn and Bobby Narr Sr., looked on.
“The anxiety level is so high,” Dawn Narr said of watching her daughter play. “It’s brutal,” Bobby Narr Sr. said.
They also credited the coaches, Dan Lagamba Jr. and Dan Lagamba Sr., with running a successful program and treating the players so well.
Girls runner-up Katie Carozza, 11, made her first appearance in the finals, and she said she hoped to be back next year.
Her keys to success?
“I focus on the marble I want to hit, and I just picture that trophy,” she said.
Also focusing on the trophies this year were about 35 students from Glenwood Avenue Elementary School in Wildwood.
No Wildwood players have been in the tournament in many years, so this year Wildwood Crest resident John Lynch is hoping to put together a team at the school with an eye of having at least one Wildwood boy and girl make it to the tournament in 2012.
Fox, president of the National Marbles Tournament board of directors, told the crowd of onlookers that she wanted them to commit to carrying on the marbles-playing tradition.
“We want to see this carried on from year to year to year,” she said.
The winners received $2,000 scholarships, trophies and other awards.
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