WHEATLAND – Long before recorded history, humans were pitting one against another in feats of physical strength. King Malcolm III of Scotland held a foot race to the summit of a local mountain to find the fastest runner to be his royal messenger. Supposedly that was the origin of what is now called the Highland Games.
These games are quite widespread in the western world and involve two men’s classes by weight and two women’s classes by weight. Within these games are the caber toss, stone put, scottish hammer throw, weight throw (AKA weight for distance), weight over the bar (AKA weight for height), sheaf toss and maide-leisg in Gaelic—lazy stick in English.
So what does all that explanation have to do with Wheatland, Wyoming? Local husband and wife, Bruce (Western Building Supplies) and Emily Hilty (North Platte Physical Therapy), train for and participate in these games.
For the last 16 years, Emily has participated in the under 150 pound women’s class. (Here her husband interjected, “Not only does she participate but she holds some world records!”) Here’s her list: weight for height—throwing a 22 pound weight 21 feet in the air at Elizabeth, Colo.; sheaf toss (straw in a burlap bag)—10 pound bag 29 feet in the air in Cheyenne; heavy weight for distance—21 pounds 53 feet 6 inches in Kansas City, MO; light weight—14 pounds 78 feet, Grand Junction, Colo.
Although he emphasized he doesn’t hold any world records like his wife, Bruce participates in the under 200 pound men’s class mostly in the hammer throw. Emily’s favorite is the weight for distance.
The two work out an hour and a half to two hours five to six days a week. They have all the equipment in their garage so it’s handy.
“I played a lot of competitive volleyball when I lived on the East Coast; I snowboard and have done Olympic lifting competitions. When I met Emily online, she was doing this so I just naturally became involved too,” said Bruce.
“My dad and brother were involved in the games and I thought it looked like fun so I started training,” said Emily. “Some of the best people I know are ones I’ve met at Highland competitions. They want others to do well and are good sportsmen.” Emily has competed in Iceland, Germany and Canada but mostly in the U.S. Last year the couple competed at 12 different games. They are preparing for a competition in Las Vegas.