The Missouri State Handball Team won their 14th Combined Team Title in addition to winning the Women's Team Title.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Missouri State secured both the Women's Team title and the Combined Team Title on the final day of action at the 67th USHA National Collegiate Handball Championships hosted by the University of Minnesota. The win marked the handball powerhouse's 14th Combined title.
In singles action, Galen Riordan of University College Dublin won the men’s open singles title, defeating Minnesota State, Makato's Tyler Stoffel in a thrilling tiebreaker, (18-21), 21-8, 11-3. Cork Institute of Technology's team of Adam and David Walsh (no relation) secured the men's open doubles title by defeating Dublin City University's Niall Joyce and Kevin Diggins, 21-19, (15-21), 11-2.
Dublin City University’s Fiona Tully and Minnesota State Mankato’s Ciana Ni Churraoin met in the women's open singles final. Ni Churraoin rolled to victory in the first game, but Tully came out strong in the second playing her opponent to a 16-16 tie. Ni Churraoin closed the match with three aces and two kills to complete her win, 21-5, 21-16.
Ciana completed the slam with teammate Carina Aguilar by defeating Dublin City University’s Fiona Tully and Meadhbh Ni Dhalaigh, 21-15, (12-21), 11-7.
When it comes to handball facilities, few can deliver what the University of Minnesota does. As evidenced by the world championships and the USHA National Four-Wall Championships in August, running a tournament with hundreds of players can be a daunting task that can tax any club.
That’s why the University of Minnesota’s state-of-the-art Recreation and Wellness Center is better every time we come back. Like the adjacent Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center, which is one of the few facilities in the country that can host large events in that sport, the Recreation and Wellness Center gives players and tournament directors everything they could need, such as:
- Exhibition courts all located on one floor.
- An immense locker room with a sauna and steam bath.
- A huge space to manage crowds.
- Walkable distances to hotels and restaurants.
That’s not the only reason we keep coming back. It’s a lot more than courts that make it “the best tournament facility in the country,” according to Gary Rohrer — and others. Golden Gophers coach Joe Van Thomme helped set up anything and everything for the event and provided boots on the ground for tournament help. When it came to making an emergency trip to the UPS Store, Van Thomme was on it!
Thanks are due the handball club and handball class attendees who showed up to help run the desk and provide tournament support. Plus it is always a pleasure to work with Vinh Chung, the go-to guy for the USHA nationals as well as previous collegiate nationals.
With all the activities available, it’s refreshing to see that handball is a featured sport at the facility. The Minnesota State Handball Hall of Fame has its members’ plaques on the facility’s wall, and the banner honoring the 1962 collegiate team champions from the University of Minnesota hangs as well. The four players on that team were honored during a special ceremony at the Saturday night banquet.
Although this tournament can be a monumental task, the crew in Minnesota pulled it off without a hitch.
Spirit of Handball Awards
USHA President LeaAnn Martin presents the Spirit of Handball Awards with University of Illinois' Ben Van Arsdale.
Collegiate handball mixes the passion of the game with school pride and loyalty.
Individual and team championships are won and lost each year, yet players demonstrate the best examples of sportsmanship and fair play. Playing hard and doing one’s best is encouraged, but not at the expense of the Spirit of Handball — which refers to the respect, fairness, self-discipline and camaraderie required in our sport.
Because players not only adhere to these guidelines but go above and beyond expectations with their actions and attitudes, the USHA is recognizing four outstanding individuals with the Spirit of Handball Award. For this recognition, coaches and peers evaluate and recommend the men and women who go above and beyond the code.
This year's recipients were (left-to-right): Kena Byrd-Jackson (Arizona), Laura Blankenship (Missouri State), Logan Call (Texas A&M), Jianneng Wu (Stony Brook).
USHA President LeaAnn Martin presents the Sabo Scholarships to Pecaut and Camacho with USHA's Matt Krueger.
The Sabo Scholarship Committee has awarded this year’s scholarships to Christina Pecaut of Missouri State and Esteban Camacho of Arizona State. Pecaut is a junior majoring in accounting and is one of the presidents of the Missouri State handball team. A member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, she plans to pursue a master’s in accountancy after completing her bachelor’s degree.
Camacho is a mechanical engineering student planning to attend graduate school and join the Navy. He is the Sun Devil Handball Club’s travel officer as well as a safety officer who is certified in CPR and First Aid. Camacho is also a Level 2 USHA certified handball instructor and is a student instructor for a handball class twice a week with coach Dan Willeford.
Most Improved Players Awards
This year’s recipients were Sam Matenaer of the University of Minnesota and Tessa DeBartolo of Pacific University. In 2018 Matenaer scored points for the Golden Gophers and finished 109th of 121 players. He came back strong this year and finished 62nd of 138. Even with an increased field size, Matenaer jumped 47 spots in the final standings.
Last year at Missouri State, DeBartolo came in 52nd of 69, whereas in Minnesota, she improved to 29th of 77 players. We want to congratulate them and all the collegiate players who get better each year. As our next generation of players, we know they have bright futures.
Men's Singles (Wednesday Matches)
Women's Singles (Wednesday / Thursday Matches)
Men's Singles (Thursday)