Photo | Gary Holbein Jr. of Fairhope recently was the runner-up at the personal watercraft world finals in Arizona. Photos courtesy the Holbeins.
Gary Holbein Jr. of Fairhope has only been racing personal watercraft for a few years. This is not surprising, as he is 12 years old and in the sixth grade at J. Larry Newton Elementary School.
Still, he recently made quite a name for himself at the 39th annual International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA) World Finals in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. In his initial appearance at the competition, he managed to come home with the second-place trophy in the Junior Ski 10-12 Lites division.
Despite riding on a personal watercraft borrowed from another competitor, Holbein finished fourth, third and second in a series of races where the lead changed with nearly every lap. The eventual winner was Lake Havasu City native Sebastian Girello, who finished first in each round.
“I am so blessed to have this opportunity to race at Havasu and race against the best in the world,” Holbein said in a news release. “It wouldn’t have been possible without Revin Harris, who let me borrow his ski to race. So, thanks to all who have supported me along the way, especially Junior Stars and my parents.”
Although he is new to racing personal watercraft, his family is quite familiar with the sport. His father, Gary Holbein Sr., was a professional racer on the National Tour for many years. He is now a captain with the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department and owner of Jet Blast Performance, a personal watercraft shop he has run for the past 30 years.
“We are so proud of what he has accomplished in such a short period of time,” the senior Holbein said. “I had a lot of fun racing in my day, but nothing compares to the feeling now watching our son compete at such a high level of competition.”
Remaining on dry land to first pull for her husband and now her son is Tawnya Holbein. An interventional radiology technologist at Thomas Hospital in Fairhope, she explained how she was able to observe her child ride 50 miles per hour within inches of other personal watercraft.
“Watching him race is both scary and exciting,” Mrs. Holbein said. “As a mother, you are worried about him getting hurt and excited for him at the same time. It isn’t until he passes over that finish line that you can actually breathe and cry and let out all the emotions that overcome you.”
The young Holbein trains with Junior Stars of Florida, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children to be safe users of personal watercraft and dedicated stewards of waterways.
“We’re super proud of Gary and his family for bringing home his first IJSBA world finals trophy this year,” Bret Underhill of Junior Stars told Lagniappe. “When Gary is on the racecourse he is fearless and he attacks every turn harder than racers twice his age, and that couldn’t have been more true than on Lake Havasu. We can’t wait to see how Gary grows as a racer and continues to crush the competition all over the country.”
IJSBA is the worldwide sanctioning body for personal watercraft competitive racing. It is responsible for the rules which govern the sanctioning, organization and conduct of sanctioned events; the standards for eligibility and conduct of competition and officials; the regulations for eligibility and preparation of watercraft; and the rules for annual series of events around the world.
Bowl game art contest returns
Organizers with the LendingTree Bowl college football game are once again inviting local students to enter its art contest. This year’s theme is “The Gulf Coast: What Brings Us Together.”
The annual art competition is open to all art students sixth through 12th grades in Mobile and Baldwin counties. The contest will run through November 11.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the winning students’ art programs, and the students will receive gifts from the LendingTree Bowl and Art Contest sponsors. The contest received approximately 100 entries in 2019.
The winning entries/students will be featured in the LendingTree Bowl program. The bowl game has awarded nearly $26,000 to local schools’ art programs since the contest’s inception in 2007.
To enter, students need to fill out an entry form (available at lendingtreebowl.com) and follow the guidelines listed on the second page of the entry form. The artwork should be brought to the LendingTree Bowl Office at 1000 Hillcrest Road, Suite 115, in Mobile by the deadline.
For more information, contact the LendingTree Bowl office by phone at 251-635-0011 or via email at contact@MABowl.com.
- University of South Alabama’s Brian Ankerson is on the Rimington Trophy Watch List. This is the latest honor for the senior center, who has also been named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy and has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and the Wuerffel Trophy.
The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I College Football. Dave Rimington was a consensus first-team All-America center at Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, during which time he became the John Outland Trophy’s only two-time winner as the nation’s finest college interior lineman.
Ankerson recorded both the highest overall and assignment marks on the Jaguar offensive line the opening month of the season while posting nine knockdown blocks. Ankerson was credited with a career-best 52 knockdowns last fall, posting 92 total since taking over as the Jags’ starting center at the beginning of 2018.
- Twenty student-athletes will represent the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) on the 2020-21 SSAC Student Leadership Council. The University of Mobile had Rachel Hart (junior from Fallston, Md.) from its volleyball team and Adison Argent (sophomore from Clanton, Ala.) from its women’s golf squad selected to the council.
There are 12 different sports represented on the council, which will conduct business through monthly Zoom meetings. The representatives for each school will choose a community service project to implement at their school each semester. The council will provide a collective voice of student-athletes to the conference office and administration of the member schools.
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