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For coach, being behind the wheel is the real deal


Harry Buckner was searching for a diecast model of a midget racer but found a real one instead - which he purchased.

And, he's been racing for the past decade with the Colorado Vintage Oval Racing Club. He owns two midgets and is working on another that will be ready to race next season.

"When I was 5, 6, 7 years old, my dad would take me out to the midget races," the Highlands Ranch resident said. "When I retired, I was collecting diecast cars of old cars that I had owned.

"I didn't know if you could get diecast midgets. I got online and typed diecast midgets because I was going to buy one. Well a real one showed up. I investigated and found out there was a club in Colorado. Eight-inch car or 80 inches, what the heck, so I ended up buying it."

A vintage midget is a small car with a high power-to-weight ratio with a four-cylinder engine. They typically have 300- to 400-horsepower engines and weigh about 900 pounds.

Buckner, a 1960 Denver South graduate and athlete, is a former Arapahoe High School baseball, football and hockey coach and the current golf coach for the Warriors.

He admits it took a while to get used to driving a midget with such high horsepower in a small car.

"There is so much power," he said. "Once you get used to it, you learn to handle the power. Man, those guys that did it for real were nuts. We really don't race that much, we go around maybe eight times. We go out run practice laps maybe twice. It's more of an exhibition than it is a race.

"You get nothing for winning. The way you win is you put the car back on the trailer when the night is over. It's more for the people to see what the old cars looked like. I've heard all the baseball, football and hockey stories, but listening to the stories that these guys tell is great."

Row your boat

Jessica Thoennes played volleyball, basketball and ran track at Mountain Vista and is now an NCAA champion.

But not in any of the sports she participated in at the Highlands Ranch school.

She rowed for the University of Washington and was on the women's varsity eight crew that won on the final race to clinch the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships on May 28 in West Windsor, New Jersey. She was also on the Huskies' team that won the Pac-12 title.

Thoennes, an all-conference volleyball player in high school, was a walk-on at Washington. She learned to row as a freshman and advanced to the varsity eight last spring as a junior.

Thoennes made the women's eight team for the United States squad that is now competing in the 2017 World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The meet runs July 19-23.

National team appearance

High school football games will take a backseat on Sept. 15 when Mountain Vista standout Mallory Pugh, Golden High School graduate Lindsey Horan and the U.S. women's national soccer team play New Zealand in a friendly soccer match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.

The game is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

Pugh and Horan played when the U.S. tied Japan 3-3 in a friendly match on June 2, 2016 before a sellout crowd of 18,572 at the Commerce City site.

Charity golf event set

Several former Denver Broncos will be a part of the Metro Community Provider Celebrity Golf Tournament July 24 at The Ridge at Castle Pines North.

Money raised goes to provide medical, dental and behavioral health services to metro Denver's uninsured and underserved populations.

Among the Bronco alumni expected to play are Ebenezer Ekuban, Jeff Alexander, Larry Brunson, Kevin Clark, Bucky Dilts, Steve Haggerty, Rich Karlis, Michael Harden, LeLo Lang and Billy Thompson.

For information or remaining sponsorship opportunities, email events@mcpn.org.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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