Heidi Griswold nearly returned to Perry Hall today as the "marbles queen," but lost in the girls finals of the 82nd National Marbles Tournament, held yesterday on the beachside marble rings of Wildwood, N.J.
The 13-year-old was sorry to have missed out on the crown, but also a little relieved.
One of the queen's duties is to kiss the newly crowned king, in this case Jamie Miller of Allegheny County, Pa.
"I did not want to kiss him," Heidi said. In fact, she added, she had cheered loudly for his opponent.
Heidi was beaten by Amy Nees of Mesa County, Colo., who won $2,000 in scholarship money.
However, Heidi walked away with a trophy, a watch with a marble on it, and a slobber-free cheek.
Other Marylanders also advanced to the final rounds of the tournament, in which 45 city and county champions ages 8 to 14 competed.
Molly Friedel, 12, of Carney finished in fifth place. Ten-year-old Ricky Brode of Cumberland finished third in the boys competition, and 11-year-old James Moss of Dundalk ranked eighth.
Perry Hall coach Helen Mohr "threw my umbrella in the air" when she learned that Heidi had made the finals after four days of marble shooting.
The local program is relatively new, and her champs, she said, have improved greatly over the past few years.
"You think, 'Will these kids ever amount to anything? They might as well go fly a kite,'" the 76-year-old said. "But then they surprise you."