Boys Top Scores

*1st: Rogue Flud

2nd: Robert Reyes-Villegas

3rd: Alex Garcia

Girls Top Scores

*1st: Ameerah Labrasca

2nd: Alyssa Beals-McDonald

T-3rd: Brie Bergren

T-3rd: Nevaeh Davis

Ring of Fire winners

Alex Garcia

Elisabeth Lopez

Closest to the Pin winners

Alex Garcia

Jaden Loftin

Summer Butterworth

Neatest Card

Team 4

Best Average Score

Team 2

* Won due to a tiebreaker

The first-ever Joe Hamilton World Championship Disc Golf Tournament wasn’t technically a final exam. In fact, it wasn’t even a required class trip.

But Joe Hamilton fifth grade teacher Sam Cochran said that 45 of the 60 students from his and Barbara Allen’s classes, who were given the option for a mid-week trip to Beachfront Park, opted in. The tournament — a first for nearly all of the students in attendance — was a chance to test some of the new skills that they have developed in a couple physical education classes during the school year.

Cochran said he enjoys playing disc golf in his free time, and since there is already a course on Joe Hamilton’s campus he said he wanted to introduce the game to his students.

“This is my form of PE for the kids,” he said. “It just gets the kids outside and doing something that isn’t the normal thing to do, and get their mindset that they can do this in their free time too.”

Cochran said last year he reached out to local Professional Disc Golf Association member Ron Cole, who has designed several disc golf courses throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California — including the Joe Hamilton course.

“We set up a couple times throughout the year where we did a beginner workshop, and an intermediate workshop at the school,” Cochran said.

Cochran and Cole said the kids quickly embraced the new sport.

“They are loving it,” Cochran said. “They are picking up a skill that they haven’t had before and getting an opportunity to get outdoors and do something — so they aren’t just sitting inside and playing video games instead.”

Cochran had Cole back once again this year to teach a beginning workshop early in the school year, followed by an intermediate workshop midway through the year. Cole has also started teaching disc golf as part of the after-school program a Joe Hamilton, coaching two one-hour sessions — with eight kids in each session —one day a week.

“I only want eight at a time because the quality of it is important to me,” Cole said. “So we do two one-hour sessions with eight kids each.”

With many fifth graders taking an interest in disc golf, Cochran and Cole decided to organize an event, which they dubbed the Joe Hamilton World Championship Disc Golf Tournament, as the ultimate test.

“I felt that something was needed to push them over the threshold,” Cole said. “Their skills are coming online — they have learned how to drive, they’ve learned how to putt, and they’ve learned how to up-shoot. So how do you put it all together? This seemed like the most logical way to do it. It is like a test, but it is a fun test. You are on the beach, you’re out in the trees, you are in the open, and you’re flinging plastic. Every kid I’ve ever known loves to throw deep down.”

The students were separated into groups of four and played a temporary nine-hole course set up between Fred Endert Pool and the beach. After all 45 students completed their round, they came together to compete in a couple mini competitions including a closest-to-the pin driving competition, and a game called the “Ring of Fire,” which tested the kids putting skills.

“This was an absolute first,” Cole said. “We didn’t know how long it would take for them to play nine-holes. Do we do one round or two? How is their attention span? One round was really solid. I think it tested their attention span just the smallest bit, but I would definitely do this again.”

The competition was tightly contested, especially at the top of the standings. After nine holes Rogue Flud and Robert Reyes-Villegas were tied for the lowest score for the boys, while Ameerah Labrasca and Alyssa Beals-McDonald were tied for first in the girls standings.

In a move of good sportsmanship, Beals-McDonald decided to allow Labrasca to claim first place as karma after Labrasca was hit by a disc during the round — even though Beals-McDonald wasn’t the one who threw the disc that hit her.

First place for the boys was decided by a good old fashioned shoot off — a head-to-head closest to the pin competition. Flud ended up edging out Reyes-Villegas by just a few feet to take first place.

Each of the top three boys and girls were awarded discs, along with the winners of the other various competitions held in Beachfront Park.

Reach Michael Zogg at .