Garrett Blatnik finished first in four of the seven men’s heavy athletic events during the 2023 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, earning him the top spot overall for the competition. This year marked Blatnik’s fifth time competing at these games and his third as a professional.
The 30-year-old from Memphis, Tenn., is an entrepreneur and owns four pizza restaurants, a gym and a takeout baked potato restaurant. Blatnik turned pro in 2021 and finished as the runner-up in last year’s games. He has competed at the last five Grandfather Mountain Highland Games alongside his brother, Justin, who turned pro this year.
“The crowd and the atmosphere make this such a special place to throw,” Blatnik said on why these games are important to him. “It’s one of the bigger [Highland Games] in the Southeast.”
Blatnik secured first place in the clachneart (throwing a stone for distance), lightweight (28 pounds) throw, caber toss and 56-pound toss for height en route to a top finish. He also achieved second-place finishes in the heavyweight (56 pounds) throw and sheaf toss, marking a top-two finish in six of the seven events.
Wes Kiser, who secured top-three finishes in six of the seven events and first place in the sheaf toss, was this year’s runner-up. Adam Sizemore finished third overall with first-place finishes in the heavyweight throw and the 22-pound hammer throw, while Jonathan Harding, last year’s overall winner, secured fourth place.
The men’s professional competition is by invitation only and featured nine competitors, three more than last year, vying to best each other in seven different categories: sheaf toss, 56-pound-weight toss for height, caber toss, clachneart, heavyweight (56 pounds) throw for distance, lightweight (28 pounds) throw for distance and the hammer.
The 2023 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games took place July 6-9 at Grandfather Mountain’s MacRae Meadows in Linville, N.C. To learn more about the Highland Games, visit www.gmhg.org.