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Beierlings Return for US Open Victory

Nathan Walsh May 26, 2023

Defeated in the semifinals in the prior year the Beierlings returned to Voorheesville with the goal of becoming 2-time US Open Champions. While the chants of USA rang out from time-to-time, it was two newly formed all-Canadian teams that the Beierlings defeated in their quest for the title.

The trophies

The 3rd edition of the US Open Crokinole Championships promised to be the best yet with a full house of teams selling out the competition slots well in advance of event. With 32 teams in attendance, players came in from southwestern Ontario, Baltimore, Charleston, Chicago, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Maine, Brooklyn, Houston, and Dallas. The crokinole tournament might be better described as a festival of crokinole that celebrates the community that can forged from the game. And all players were welcomed warmly into Voorheesville crokinole scene.

The weekend’s itinerary unofficially kicked off when out of town players started arriving Thursday night, and quickly finding themselves called upon for crokinole action. The first official agenda item for the weekend was a Friday disc golf tournament, of which Voorheesville’s Jason Molloy appears to be successfully recruiting more and more crokinole players to partake each year. (I was told, by others Molloy had converted, that I should take up the sport no less than three times over the course of the weekend.)

Poster at the brewery

However, the bulk of players arrived in time for the Friday night social held at the local brewery, which also featured live music, a Bruins game on TV, and about half a dozen crokinole boards that were quickly in use. A little while later the first official crokinole event of the weekend took place with 52 people participating in a hole survivor tournament. The competition involves players starting out with a pre-set number of discs (it was 4 in this case), and attempting to sink open-20s. With each made shot the player retains their disc, and with each miss the player loses the disc, until eventually only one player has any discs remaining. Mike McTague, certainly one of the top Voorheesville players, won the event, extinguishing any Canadian-thoughts that victory at the US Open would be a certainty for the northerners.

Friday night at the brewery

More crokinole and socialization followed the hole survivor conclusion. Even with the brewery closing early on the Friday night, there was a few more hours of crokinole action after players returned to their accommodations.

The American Legion in Voorheesville has warmly welcomed the crokinole activity that has been spurred on in the town over the last few years. The US Open participants gobbled down breakfast sandwiches on the main floor of the Legion before collecting each collecting their own US Open emblazoned drinking glass, paint brush (for collecting wax in the ditch) and pen (affixed with a light for inspecting whether discs are touching the boundary lines).

The preliminary round split the 32-teams into 3 pools (designated as Ales, Lagers and Ciders). The pools had been drawn up randomly via a live stream in the week leading up to the event, and from that point there was wide agreement that the Ales group looked the toughest. However, all 32 teams would proceed to the playoffs, so the preliminary round was only used for seeding.

Preliminary round action

The top 2 seeds from the preliminary round came from the Lagers group as Beierling/Beierling and Hutchinson/Walsh finished 1st and 2nd. The Brooklyn team of Marc Ponzio/David Jefferson finished 3rd in the group and got the 8-seed for the playoffs. Out of the Ales group came the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th seeds which were Jason Molloy/Mike McTague of Voorheesville, Paul Brubacher/Ron Langill, Nick Ozmore (New Hampshire)/Roy Campbell, and Reid and Jeremy Tracey. The 4th, 9th and 10th seeds were all Voorheesville teams coming from the Ciders group with Brian Christofel/Kevin Jobin-Davis in 4th, Matt Hotopp/Tyler Reynolds in 9th and John Powell/Tom Ensslin in 10th.

Before the playoffs began the Extra Pint Crokinole Club had a quick ceremony where they awarded Travis Keener and Justin Frerich their own club banners. Keener (Toledo, Ohio) and Frerich (Dallas) both recently started their own chapters of the Extra Pint Crokinole Club, and with the ceremony complete were now formally apart of the Extra Pint Crokinole’s extended family.

Keener and Frerich pose with banners

With all teams seeded, the playoffs began. A 32-team bracket was established with single elimination format to determine the US Open champion. The first round only saw two cases of the lower-seeded team advancing in the 16 matches that were played. The 20th seeded team of Seth Frank/Brian Monaco beat the 13th-seeded Dwight Anderson/Justin Perry by a score of 7-5, while the 18th-seeded Larry Stafford/Michael Stafford won 8-6 over the 15th-seeded Ben Harding/Michael Barth.

Into the round of 16 the 20th-seeded Frank/Monaco team pulled off another upset, beating 4th-seed Brian Christofel/Kevin Jobin-Davis 8-2, while the 11th-seeded team of Chet Boehlke Jr/Ehern Lewis also scored an 8-2 upset over Nick Ozmore/Roy Campbell.

That brought the action into the quarterfinals. The top-seeded Beierlings continued to look strong earning the 3rd-straight 8-0 victory by defeating Brooklyn’s Ponzio/Jefferson. In the all-Canadian quarterfinal Reid and Jeremy Tracey won a convincing 8-2 over Andrew Hutchinson and Nathan Walsh. There was also and all-Voorheesville quarterfinal where Jason Molloy/Mike McTague won 8-4 against Chet Boehlke Jr/Ehern Lewis. The last quarterfinal pitted the 5th-seeded Brubacher/Langill against the red-hot 20th-seeded Frank/Monaco. Brubacher/Langill narrowly ended the streak of Frank/Monaco, winning by a score of 7-5.

There were consolation brackets for all of the teams eliminated in the playoffs, and all of the teams taken out in the quarterfinals were in the running for what was a secretive and much-hyped 5th place award. The award, designed and featuring Seth Frank, was unveiled in the morning to much fanfare.

Seth Frank himself remained in the contention for the award when Frank/Monaco won 8-4 against Ponzio/Jefferson. Hutchinson/Walsh defeated Boehlke/Lewis 8-2 in the other consolation semifinal. The battle for the 5th-place award drew a bit of a crowd and Frank put on a show with some spectacular round-winning shots, but it was Hutchinson/Walsh who would take the match 8-6 along with the one-of-a-kind 5th place award.

The 5th place award

In the morning there was also the announcement that the crokinole board that the championship match would be played on would be raffled off. The board, manufactured by Tracey Boards, was advertised by the tournament organizers as “a good starter board.” (A line which was repeated several more times throughout the day whenever a Tracey was within earshot.) When the raffle was drawn, Lizz Donnelly of Brooklyn became the owner of the 2023 US Open Championship board.

The trophies

Shifting back to the championship action, the semifinals were set. An all-Canadian semifinal of Beierling/Beierling against the first-time pairing of Brubacher/Langill began play to few spectators as the crowd gathered around the other semifinal. In the other match Reid and Jeremy Tracey played the hometown favourites of Molloy/McTague.

Brubacher/Langill began their match (now playing first to 9 points) with a 4-0 lead as they were superior in open 20 shooting. They even had an advantage in the 3rd round with hammer and two discs on the board, until the Beierlings managed to use one Brubacher/Langill disc as a guard, while they hid their own disc behind it. Brubacher tried to make the combination-takeout through his own but failed to do so and the Beierlings took advantage to win the round, and tie things up at 4-4. Leading 6-4 Brubacher/Langill put pressure on late into the round on the Beierlings’ hammer, forcing Ray Beierling to have to make an open 20 to win the round, which he did to make it 6-6. From there the Beierlings were the superior team in 20-shooting and they captured the last two rounds to win the match 10-6.

One year earlier Molloy/McTague earned an emphatic victory in the US Open semifinal when the beat the Beierlings, and now the crowd were hoping they could repeat in defeating another Canadian team. The Tracey’s were leading 5-3 when a nervy 5th-round took place that looked like it could be decisive for the match. Both sides narrowly missed on 20’s attempts leaving four discs on the board (2 for each side) on the Tracey’s hammer. The door was opened for Molloy/McTague to win the round following a missed shot from Reid Tracey, but he redeemed himself with a double takeout on his next shot, setting up a 7-3 lead for the Traceys. In the 6th round the Traceys looked to be on the verge of victory as they still led by a 20 even after McTague made a brilliant rebound-20. But Jeremy Tracey lost his shooter on successive takeout attempts, and Jason Molloy respond with the open-20 to salvage one point for 8-4. Things got even more intense when a well-played round from the Traceys left them a shot to win the match, but Reid missed on the final shot takeout and the score was 8-6. But Reid Tracey redeemed himself once again in the following round, first scoring a 20 on his second-last shot to tie the round, and then making a double-takeout on his last shot to guarantee the semifinal victory.

The last match played at the Legion was a 10-4 3rd place victory for Molloy/McTague over Brubacher/Langill as the crowd headed back to the brewery for the championship match.

The championship would have the Beierlings going for their 9th NCA doubles title, which would tie them with Fred Slater for most all-time, and keep both of them in the hunt for the 2022-2023 NCA Tour victory. For the Traceys, a win would mean the exacting of some revenge in distinct ways. For Reid, his best ever doubles finish was a 2nd place at the 2019 World Championships, missing the world title by one point to the Beierlings. For Jeremy, the Beierlings had defeated him and Andrew Hutchinson by a 12-10 score at the Ontario Doubles Championship back in November.

The final match

The tournament organizers set the stage of the championship, affixing a spot-light above the championship board, running a digital scoreboard, and relaying an overhead video feed of the action to TVs inside the brewery. The first half of the match was well-played, but featured 6 mostly-comfortable holds of hammer, and the score was tied 6-6 in the race to 12 points. The hammer teams hadn’t found themselves under any pressure until a ricochet-20 from Jeremy Tracey went unanswered following two Beierling 20-attempts, and the Traceys had the first steal to go ahead 8-6.

The 8th round looked like it could go either way late into the round, but Jason Beierling got a break-through rebound-20 that returned the match to level-pegging at 8-8. Into round 9 the Traceys won the early 20-race, but the Beierlings responded twice with takeout-20s. The Traceys responded the first time with an open 20, but missed the second and the Beierlings held the hammer to lead 10-8. In the 10th round it was the Beierlings winning the 20-race, but this time the Traceys weren’t able to generate the necessary 20 to tie the round. Jason Beierling missed an open 20 chance to seal the victory, but it still left Jeremy Tracey with a very tough follow-through-20 to extend the match. When he missed, it clinched the Beierlings 12-8 US Open victory, and confetti rained down on the board as the players shook hands.

Confetti rains down


With the victory complete the Beierlings took part in the Extra Pint tradition of downing the yard to cap off the 2023 US Open Championship. But even then the night was not complete. Players remained jovial and socializing, and of course playing crokinole well into the night. Representatives from various American crokinole clubs swapped stories, ideas and visions for how they wanted to further grow the game of crokinole in their respective cities. Each of them, and in Voorheesville especially, seemed to be on the right path. The enthusiasm for crokinole, and the effort some individuals have put into establishing their own clubs is reminiscent of the energy of the early days of the NCA. However in the early days of the NCA there was no road map to follow, and some energy went mis-directed as people were still figuring out how to run a crokinole club or tournament. With a greater support base and collective knowledge of how to run crokinole gatherings, combined with this level of zest for the game, crokinole’s growth in America is not inevitable, but it is extremely promising.

For more stories about the US Open, Andrew Hutchinson’s latest podcast episode includes many interviews from the event. Ryan Kaczynski of the Brooklyn Crokinole Club commentated the Tracey/Tracey v Molloy/McTague semifinal here. Other vides are appearing the Extra Pink Texas YouTube channel, and CrokinoleCentre also has a semifinal and championship match. The full results from the tournament can be viewed on the Extra Pint website.

Poster of Ben Hogan
As seen in the Legion bathroom, the homage to Hogan's Alley.