Bean bags soared from late morning into the afternoon Saturday at the inaugural Flingin' Festival Cornhole Tournament inside the Planters Bank Jennie Stuart Health Sportplex.

Amateurs and professionals alike tried their hand at the $1,000 grand prize that ultimately went to the first place team, Michael Ratcliffe, Lexington, and Greg Geary, Brandenburg.

The duo, which travels to cornhole tournaments across the state, swept 31 teams off the bracket for the local tournament that was organized by the sportsplex staff.

"For this to be their first time hosting it, it's great," Ratcliffe said of the event. "We'll go to some (cornhole tournaments) and they don't even know how to work the bracket."

Geary, an American Cornhole Organization professional player, said he got into the sport after pitching softball for 12 years.

"With cornhole, everyone around me played so I gave it a shot," he said.

Most — if not all — of his shots landed Saturday for the pretty sweet prize. Geary was one of the few players at Saturday's tournament who had played the sport on ESPN, the staff noted.

Amateur players Carol and Richard Shaw of Hopkinsville had a good run on the leaderboard, but knew they didn't stand a chance against some of the professionals.

"We took a pretty good whooping from (one of the professionals)," Richard said. "He took us to school."

The Shaws said they've been playing cornhole together for about 10 years.

"We play monthly in Murray and in Nashville some," Carol said. "It's fun and we just have a good time."

Both were impressed by the sportsplex since it was their first time there and were glad it's in their hometown.

"This complex is huge and it's local," Carol said. "We'd love to see the tournament here again. If we could do something local every month, that'd be great."

Sportsplex Marketing Coordinator Chris Jung said the staff was happy with the turnout and the positive comments they received.

"For our first year, it was incredibly successful," Jung said. "We exceeded our goal in terms of the number of teams that participated. We had some Lexington, Indiana and Illinois teams."

As for the future of the tournament, Jung said it would likely be separated by experience so everyone gets a shot at the prize.

"We would separate it so there's an amateur and professional division, so that those who are more experienced and those who are just there to have fun can play in different divisions," he said. "That's just something that you learn in the first year of an event, and we've taken note, and we look forward making cornhole a part of what we do at the sportsplex."

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

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