Toad-ally awesome

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

The trophy for the winner of the international frog jump finals at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee is staying put in its home county for at least another year.

In fact, it won't even be leaving the family.

Foothill Froggers' Riley Kitchell, 27, of Mountain Ranch, recorded the only jump of more than 20 feet in Sunday's final to capture the title. Kitchell's frog, "SHHH! Don't Tell Morgan," hopped three times to a total of 20 feet, 10 inches, with just two jumps remaining for the day to give this year's final a nice dose of suspense.

Kitchell takes over bragging rights from his mother, Laura Kitchell, of Angels Camp, who won last year and placed second this time around. Her frog "Slip Sliding Away" recorded the highest qualifying jump this year at 21 feet, 0.5 inches, but came up a tad shorter in the final at 19 feet, 4 inches.

Lee Giuidici's world record from 1986 of 21 feet, 5.75 inches, by "Rosie the Ribiter," will stand for another year as the longest-held mark in the event's 86-year history.

The Kitchells had a side bet going on Sunday's event.

"So she owes me five bucks," Riley said of his mother.

"I took second so I'm just happy," Laura said, adding of her friends' and family's celebration, "They're all camping at my house tonight."

Riley's cousin and Laura's niece, Caitlin Kitchell, 19, of Angels Camp, finished third behind a leap of 18 feet, 4 inches, by "Das Nater Tater."

This is the first year of back-to-back local champions since 2005-06.

"Apparently, we keep doing something right because we keep coming back and winning it," Riley said, between ceremonious baths of buckets of "frog water" and Coors Light.

Riley parted with one secret to success.

"We just feed them crickets," he said. "Nothing but crickets."

His win marks for the first from his Foothill Froggers team, which spun off from his mother's Calaveras Frog Jockeys seven years ago.

"We branched off from the parents, started doing our own thing and finally it paid off," Riley said.

Though billed as an "international frog jump final," the contest often draws its most distant competitors from Gustine, Sacramento or Sweet Home, Ore. However, this year's event drew some foreign flavor with the Gustine Frog Team represented by Alana Barbosa, a high school foreign exchange student from Brazil. Barbosa recorded the 25th-best qualifying jump, and her frog "Pride of Brazil" leapt a respectable 15 feet, 4.75 inches, in Sunday afternoon's final.

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Thursday October 27, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
New oak disease spreads from coast to foothills


A deadly fungus killing oak trees along the coasts of central and ... more

Residents complain about cultivation enforcement


Residents of El Rancho Loma Serena Homeowners Association said they believe Calaveras ... more

Columbia Elementary gets an interim leader


The Columbia Union School Board Tuesday hired Diane Dotson as interim superintendent-principal. ... more

Paying the price


Chris Lusardi, of Sonora, is one of thousands of Tuolumne County residents ... more

All Hallows Fantasy Faire


Hundreds of people of all ages, costumed and non-costumed, attended the eighth ... more