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Cornhole, wiffle ball take over the park

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By Kristen Snyder

                   It’s a battle.

A gauntlet of cornhole boards lay in perfect rows awaiting their competitors.

                    Frank Geers, president and CEO of the American Cornhole Organization, announced teams that would “battle” each other Saturday morning during the “Luck of the draw” portion of HoleHeadz Fest cornhole tournament, which took place June 25-26 at Point Park.

                   “Grab a beer and get practicing, “ Geers said with a grin to a player registering for the tournament.

                   This is the second time the tournament has been held at Point Park. Geers estimated that 60 people of all ages came from around the region, including Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and West Virginia to play in the tournament. Geers said he wishes more people from the local area participated; he said he thought only two people from Carrollton registered to play in the tournament.

                   “The turn out this year was pretty good,” Geers said. “We were kind of hoping for more, but the crowd here is good.”

                   This year’s tournament also saw the addition of Wifflepalooza, a wiffle ball tournament as well as the band “Mays Gone” who performed at night.

                   Five tournaments spanning Friday and Saturday made up the cornhole tournament. The first four tournaments consisted of either “Luck of the draw” tournaments, when teams are randomly picked out of all players that were checked in, or tournaments where players could pick their own partners. The fifth tournament was a singles game. All tournaments were single elimination. Each tournament earns players points and the top 10 point earners each won $250.

                   At the end of the tournaments, there was also the Seven21 Survivor Challenge. All players were divided into equal groups of approximately 10 players per group. To avoid being knocked out of the challenge, you cannot throw the lowest score. The lowest scoring player of each group of 10 will be knocked out of the challenge until there were only five players left in each group. Then the groups were brought together and the challenge continued until only 10 players survive. Each of these players also won $250.

                   Larry Lambert was one of the competitors on Saturday. He said he travels around a lot to play in cornhole tournaments, around the Ohio and will be going to Virginia Beach for a tournament.

                   “I’ve been playing for about a year,” Lambert said. “I like the competition, everyone here is real competitive and I am too.”

                   ACO professional player of four years, Mike Schaffer, was one of the 11 pros attending the tournament for the “ACO-Pro Spotlight” in which professional players played each other to earn points towards their national ranking, Schaffer said.

                   “You meet a lot of really great people here, its enjoyable for everybody,” Schaffer said. “When you get to the level of play here, it gets really intense.”

                   While the cornhole tournament was underway, Wifflepalooza also began its eighth year after a five-year hiatus. Partial owner of ACO, Matt Gray was one of the organizers of the event. He said the group was excited to reintroduce the wiffle-ball tournament.

                   “There are a lot of teams that came and signed up who played before the five-year hiatus,” Gray said.

                   During Wifflepalooza each team had three to four players and played at least four games that averaged 30 to 40 minutes each in a round robin tournament, then teams advanced to a single elimination tournament.

                   “By then, you’re pretty tired,” Gray said. “Teams will have an extra guy so they can switch out when they need to, that extra player can make a big difference.”

                   Gray said it just made sense to make Wifflepalooza part of HoleHeadz Fest. Geers estimated that around 36 people participated in Wifflepalooza.

                   Whether participants were playing wiffle-ball or cornhole, Lambert seemed to encompass the feeling of the event.

                   “We’re here for a little bit of a good time,” he said. “But we’re mostly here for the competition.”