While the National Crokinole Association always officially kicks off their Tour at the World Championships, the New York event has always seemed to be the unofficial start to the Tour, where all of the focus is squarely on the Summer and Fall swing of crokinole tournaments.
With their 4th annual tournament, the Tuscarora Crokinole Club ensured it was a roaring start to the Tour, bringing in a tournament-record 40 players for the 2015 Turtle Island Crokinole Tournament.
The August stop on the NCA Tour, just South of the Canadian border, attracted several strong competitors looking to score big, early in the 8th season of the NCA Tour. The high-class field included 5 World Champions, as well as 4 of the NCA's top 5 Tour leaders.
In the first round of competitive action, Ray Beierling showed himself to be in fine form after the Summer break, scoring 71 points and 103 20s for the top spot. Brian Cook and Jon Conrad also looked very strong, both scoring 64 points. The remaining 5 spots in the A group cutoff were jammed as 6 players fought tooth-and-nail for every point. Roger Vaillancourt and Clare Kuepfer each scored 52 points, while Jason Beierling cut it a little closer with 51, just leaving Tony Snyder on the outside with 49.
Meanwhile in the Recreational group, Neil Cook, Carol Cook and Doreen Sulkye were the high scorers from their group, and Wayne Wolfgang, Janet Diebel and Ray Henry grabbed the top 3 spots on their side.
The Recreational C group playoffs saw Erwin Printup and Stephanie Banks take the top 2 spots with nearly identical scores. After E. Printup defeated Zionne Jong and S. Banks defeated Tiffany Henry, the two met in the finals. But it was Stephanie Banks grabbing the glory as she beat Erwin Printup for the C group final.
In the Recreational B group, NCA newcomers, Derek McKie and Dave Carnahan faired extremely well, both making the playoffs and competing against each other in the semifinals. While McKie would advance to the final, John Ramsey would score an upset victory over Sarah Mason. Ramsey would continue his playoff run, beating McKie in the final to claim the B group title despite only advancing to the playoffs on a 20s tiebreak win.
Lastly, Neil Cook continued his strong play in the Recreational A group, scoring a high 42 points. However, Abijah Jong was able to score the semifinal win over Cook. Carol Cook and Ray Henry met in the other semifinal, with Henry scoring the win to advance to the final. In the A final, Abijah Jong came out on top to win the Recreational title.
In the Competitive group, the fierce battle continued in the second round, with players in the A and B groups fighting for spots in the semifinals. In the B group, Tony Snyder played strong to grab the top seed, but was defeated in the semifinals by former Cameron Heights colleague, Barry Kiggins. Wayne Scott won the other semifinal over Beverly Vaillancourt, while Reuben Jong and Cathy Kuepfer just missed making the top 4 cut off. In the finals, Barry Kiggins continued his playoff momentum to beat Wayne Scott for the B title.
In the A group, Jon Conrad and Brian Cook were the class of the second round, scoring 36 and 35 points respectively for the top 2 spots. The Beierling brothers, matched each others scores with 29 points to finish 3rd and 4th, just ahead of Roger Vaillancourt and Roy Campbell.
It was the third consecutive top 4 appearance in New York for Brian Cook, Ray Beierling and Jon Conrad, while it was Jason Beierling's first. Brian Cook beat Ray Beierling in the first semifinal, in what was another instalment of one of crokinole's greatest gladiator battles. Jason Beierling's play, true to form, improved significantly throughout the day, as he defeated Jon Conrad to make the final. It was Jason Beierling's first final since the Ontario Doubles Championship last October, and Cook's first final since he won the Turtle Island title the year before.
Interestingly, it was the first time J. Beierling and B. Cook had met in a final since the 2012 Ontario Doubles Championship (won by Cook and Fred Slater), and the first time they had met in a singles final since the 2006 World Crokinole Championship (won by Beierling).
In the final, Brian Cook successfully defended his New York title, and began his 2015-2016 NCA Tour with a cool 50 points.
Speaking of the NCA Tour, here's a look at the current standings after 3 events.
|6||Tony Snyder||Cameron Heights||3||105|
|10||Rob Jr Mader||Preston||2||80|
Ray Beierling's consistent finishes so far have him in a slight lead, with Jason Beierling and Jon Conrad close behind after the New York event.
Before the NCA Tour moves on, it should be mentioned that tournament organizer, Dale Henry, often works tirelessly in his promotion efforts for the event, usually sending out tournament information 6 months in advance. It is astonishing to think that the club itself is only 4 years old, and the tournament has grown to its large size from the modest start of 10 in 2012. This popular Tour stop once again brought in players from Ohio and Ontario, and several from the local club.
The next event on the NCA Tour is the Belleville Crokinole Challenge, put on by the Quinte Region Crokinole Club, taking place on September 19, 2015. More information on the tournament and how to register can be found here.