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Senior Games Come to Highland Park

For seniors, shuffleboard offers combination of camaraderie and competition.

Senior Olympian Doreene Morgan is accustomed to competition.

At 55-years-old she's competed in kinetic events like track-and-filed, pickleball and table tennis. None of those, though, quite match the level of challenge provided by Shuffleboard.

On Thursday morning, Morgan and about 20 other players squared off in a shuffleboard competition as part of the 2012 Pasadena Senior Games at the 's Shuffleboard Club. 

The 2012 Pasadena Senior Games comprises 28 events, ranging from archery to basketball, to weight-lifting.

Two of those events, pickleball and shuffleboard, will serve as qualifying competitions for the 2013 national senior games in Cleveland, Ohio.

The object of the game is to score points by sliding a disc across a smooth surface into one of five areas inside of a triangular zone located at the other end of the board. Players must also avoid losing points, which is caused by sliding the disc--referred to as a biscuit--into a rectangular zone just outside the triangle.

Morgan, who has won medals in all the other events she's competed in, lost her match on Thursday morning to an elder player. Unlike track-and-field events, where players are divided into separate age groups--competitors of all ages square-off in shuffleboard.

Though she didn't qualify on Thursday for the individual competition, Morgan said she'll return to the Highland Park Shuffleboard Club on Friday for a chance to qualify through the doubles competition.

"It's so different from the other sports I do, but it's still very competitive, maybe even more because there is so much strategy involved," Morgan said. "It's like a chess game."

"It's an even playing field. Someone my age can go against somebody who is 80-years-old. And, honestly, they'd probably have the advantage because of their experience," Morgan said. 

Barbara Irigoyen, 73, is one of the more experienced players who competed at the Highland Park Shuffleboard Club on Thursday. Raised in Highland Park and now a resident of Pasadena, Irigoyen is a former president of the club and has been playing on the courts since 1995.

Her skill at the game has brought her to competitions in Canada, Arizona and Ohio.

In her 15 years competition, Irigoyen has gathered medals and new friends in equal measure. While she remains a competitive player, it's clear she values the friends more than the hardware.

"I've played in international competitions and met people from all over the world, and we have so much fun. We're all the same, everyone's so friendly and nice," she said.

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