MB9: #CANTBEATDEAN — Allen Wins 6th World Title

IMG_0617A new challenger stepped up to the plate, but as he has done the previous five times, Dean Allen (Redford, M) dispatched of his opponent to win the Monkeyball World Championship.  18th ranked Matt Danely (Logansport, IN) took Allen to three games, but in the end the Hall-of-Famer was too much.  Dan Kidle (Ann Arbor, MI) topped Andy Frushour (DeWitt, MI) in the consolation match.

Gold: Dean Allen (Redford, MI)
Silver: Matt Danely (Logansport, IN)
Bronze: Dan Kidle (Ann Arbor, MI)

# of Players: 83
Results/Brackets (PDF)
MB9 Previews: Sun | Mon | Tues | Wed | Thurs

OFFICIAL RECAP

Just like last year, the day started with a National Anthem flyover and finished with a Dean Allen world title. But other than that, there was a whole lot of different at MB9. We had great weather, finally. We had Lions Club hot dogs. We brought our own beer. And most importantly, we played at a new location.

Erickson Park was a FANTASTIC first-time host. And, BREAKING NEWS: Erickson will also be the host for MB10. So go ahead and mark your calendars – MB10 on Aug. 2, 2014. I hope to have more Monkeyball news for you in the coming months, as 2014 promises to be the “Year of Monkeyball.”

You already know Dean Allen won his sixth world championship, but here’s the story of how MB9 started with 83 players and whittled its way to the final two….

MORNING QUALIFYING

TOP 16
The best ballers in the world gather on the Center Courts during the annual morning qualifying bloodbath. And while no one wants to run into Dean Allen in the afternoon, have we finally learned it’s Eric Trinoskey you want to avoid in the morning? Eric’s game Improved throughout the morning, finishing the commish with a 12-Monkeys to reach the semis and nearly skunking Dean (15-1) to win the top seed. Eric (aka Monkeyball Jesus) has been in the Top 16 all five years and has a 15-5 record in the morning. My unofficial stats have Dean at 14-6 in this same time period. Can anyone find me a better Top 16 record? Ryan LePeak and Dan Kidle finished #3 and #4 in what was an ultra-talented semifinal field.

Not only did #16 Joe Frushour call off his MB retirement talks, but he also delayed wrist surgery so he could play in the Top 16. Carp shook off the rust and won his last three games to get the #9 seed. Let’s not forget the plight of the four ballers who went 0-2. Sean Dameron, Joe Pudil, Brent Morrow and Manuel Tello were the unlucky and winless four that had to play in what has become the most nerve-wracking game of the morning: a one-game playoff against the 8th best player from an outside court group. Take a deep breath, fellas.

JON ROSS’S MONKEYBALL MEMOIRS
I asked Jon Ross to share some MB9 memories with me. Throughout this recap Jon will share with you his thoughts and deepest feelings – just look for the italicized paragraphs:

Carp Shorts“Started the day throwing a few practice ones by myself on court A. Threw both sets of colors and didn’t do so hot. Walked down and picked them up and got ready to throw all 8 back. First 4 I threw, all 3 pointers. My first ever 12 monkeys. Raised my arm in accomplishment, looked around to see if anyone noticed my feat, realized no one did and felt a tinge of sadness. I hoped this wouldn’t be the highlight of my day. Later in the morning, threw a few practice rounds with Joe Frushour, who bravely put off surgery in order to compete. I told him he should wear a fake bandage on his wrist and seconds before his first match, rip it off and pull a Willis Reed. If nothing else, it would draw attention away from his shorts/socks combo (photo at right). We wrapped up warm-ups and I was ready for Court C.”

GROUP A
A trend has started for Matt Danely. The day before Worlds he plays, and loses, every warm-up game. This MB-Eve the Commish beat him 15-0, 15-0, 15-0, 15-3, but Danely would get the last laugh on Saturday. First thing’s first, though, as Danely rolled through Group A winning a group stage for a second time (MB7). Adam Schrauben has become somewhat of a morning qualifying all-star, in addition to his runner-up spot at MB9, he made the semis at MB8, finished as the #2 seed at MB7. Jeff Van Schaick, our first ever competitor from Maryland, was invited by the “Toledoball” Kubacki Trio. Van Schaick battled back from an opening round loss and topped buddy Dave Kubacki for the #3 seed. Rex Danely left his Indiana fire station early Saturday morning and arrived in time to beat Alex Schrauben for the five seed.

The biggest Erickson Park drama occurred during the 7th place game in Group A. Sisters Melanie Salmon and Missy Dameron battled for an afternoon spot, with Mel winning. This set up a play-in game between Missy and her husband Sean Dameron. The Dameron family has been the center of much (tense) discussion on this website over the years. Missy could have made it a long (and silent) drive back to Alabama for the Damerons and their four children, but Sean took care of business and grabbed the last q-fying spot (but, damn, Sean: you could have let her score a point – welcome to the couch, my friend).

Tom Wiel missed the afternoon by a game last year, and he missed out again at MB9. 7-year old Quentin Danely is only a few years away from possibly joining his dad and grandpa in the afternoon. There was a lot of trash-talk from Yooper Mark Mattson coming in to MB9, but after two quick losses for he and Laura Roberts and they realized this wasn’t your standard back-yard ladder ball tournament.

GROUP B
The Whitfield brothers have started making a name for themselves in the Monkeyball world. With last year’s quarterfinalist Matt Whitfield bailing on us to go to a wedding, younger brother Josh Whitfield was left to uphold the family name. A first place finish in Group B was a good way to start the day. The world’s top traddy, Andy Kidle, took second. Andi Osters seems to have found her MB legs the last two years, but she would be looking for more than just the Group B #3 seed. 4th seed Joe Zimmerman is a vet of this event, unlike rookie #5 Kristine Reigler who I’m sure will be a force in future years. Katie Kidle continued her streak of strong morning performances in getting the six seed (how about that big comeback against younger sister Clare McFadden?), but would she continue her solid play into the afternoon? Two other rookies battled for the seven seed, with Shannon Barr qualifying for the afternoon, leaving Curtis Frye to take on Joe Pudil in the play-in game. Frye, a future NHL star goalie (no pressure, Curtis), was peppered with points by Pudil and couldn’t save himself from elimination.

random-toledoballsFor the second year in a row, Jonah Allen won the Big Rack Challenge (an amazing feat if you ask me). The good news is he also won a Spikeball set in addition to the $64 BRC prize, the bad news is he did not qualify for the afternoon. Sierra VanDenHeuvel did not win a game, but she did set the record for most capital letters in a last name. Tom and Heidi McFadden were depressed after they each went 0-2, but cheered up by hosting the first-ever kids tournament (won by Skyelar Salmon). The kids tournament was briefly derailed by the collecting cans game, during which kids collected all of our empty (and not so empty) cans, which were promptly traded in for candy. The Jello-shot tandem of Paige Winne and Heather Wenzel both got skunked in game one, and then they faced each other in a loser’s bracket marathon match with Wenzel winning, 16-14. I think it’s safe to say that neither of these two will ever strike fear in the heart of Dean Allen.

GROUP C
Group B’s winner had a brother who was a no-show. The same happened in Group C where Joe Wenzel represented the family name and won the group over Jon Ross (who also got the #2 seed at MB8). We’re still not sure if David “Malibu” Fiyalko and Dennis “Lazer” Callovi were gladiators or Chippendales. Malibu finished as Group C’s #3 seed, while Lazer excelled in the Big Rack Challenge (including throwing a 9, and a 3, in OT to defeat the commissioner). “Don’t mess with a mother” was heard during one of Bobbi Duchene’s games on her way to the #4 seed, while vets Brett Thiel and Neil Ver Planck finished five and six. Rookie Matt Paison advanced as the #7 in his first worlds, while Laurie Karsten knocked out Top 16 (and frequent quarterfinalist) Brent Morrow to get the last qualifying spot from Group C.

The quality of depth of our female ballers continues to improve. Christy Price and Amanda Wenzel are examples, but both ran into a tough draw and both fell just short of the afternoon after losing to another tough female.

From the Ross Memoirs: “First two matches were against two competitors with the combined age of about 24. Almost felt bad drinking in front of them. Definitely didn’t feel bad about giving them a Monkeyball whipping. Real life kids. No participation ribbons.

“Match 3… had to play someone roughly my own age/size, Bretty Thiel. Brett jumped out to a big lead, but I was able to battle back and win. Setting up a #1 vs #2 showdown on Court C. I did not live up to my ranking as Joe Wenzel wiped the floor with me. He could have stopped at 15, but he ran it up to 17. I think it was an extra point for each teeny-bopper I wrecked. The new father was making me pay for beating on kids. But, I had done enough to secure a spot in the afternoon.

“As one of the defacto bracket monitors of group C, I was allowed the opportunity to yell “Malibu and Lazer. Malibu and Lazer – you’re up, let’s go!” Probably as close as I’ll get to being on American Gladiators. Next year, everyone should do nicknames.”

GROUP D
Ryan-Big-LadderI think Mike Van Antwerp took some notes after his first world championship last summer. Mike came into MB9 focused, and rolled through three MB vets to take the top seed in Group B. Jillian Kubacki won her group last year (including an opening round win over Van Antwerp) and finished second at MB9. Casey Frushour always makes the afternoon, and he topped NYC resident Jamie Price for the fourth seed. Dan Kubacki sported a GoPro camera for the day and finished #5 (still waiting on those vids, DK!) Does anyone remember MB1, where a 7 year-old Ryan Hintz was manning the keg and filling all the red party cups? That 7-year old is now 15, and he is now advancing to the afternoon Worlds with a #6 seed. Dr. Annie Kirk found Jill Hintz’s secret sauce (aka sangria), which powered her to her second trip to the afternoon as a seven seed. Corey Fulton opted to attend Worlds instead of competing in the Lansing City Golf Championships, and he was rewarded with an afternoon slot after topping Top 16 Manuel Tello in the play-in game.

Jill Hintz and Jen Wurm led a group of crazy-socks-wearing ballers. Even though they didn’t qualify, they were having fun. It was also nice to see almost-Dr. Jed Blanton and future-Dr. Eric Martin taking a break from academia to enjoy some time at Erickson Park playing MB.

AFTERNOON SESSION

Eric Trinoskey continued his hot morning into the afternoon, dispatching of Brett Thiel and two games before being taken to three games by Andy Kidle. Kidle took out MB5 champ Chuck Trinoskey in three games, before bowing to MBJ.

Although a #1 seed from the morning, Matt Danely still needed to prove himself to the rest of the field. He started making his MB9 noise with wins over Corey Fulton and then Jamie Price to advance to his first-ever quarterfinals. Price had surprised Keith Hagen to make the Sweet 16.

See Ross’s Memoirs at the end of this section to see how Dan Kidle advanced to the quarterfinals without breaking a sweat.

Sure, Andi Osters had no problem getting rid of Sean Dameron and Mike Van Antwerp to start the afternoon. And Andrew Alexander had a ho-hum win over Matt Paison to reach the Sweet 16. But those matches didn’t come close to getting on the excitement radar compared to the Osters-Alexander battle to reach the quarters. Osters and Alexander, who coincidentally have been “Facebook official” for a number of years, showed up to the Park an hour later than scheduled and only minutes before the Opening Ceremonies. This battle of best-ies would certainly be a dogfight (or catfight?), right? Nope. Osters killed him to advance to the quarters for the second straight year.

IMG_0551No one said it would be easy for Dean Allen. Back at MB5 Jason Salmon knocked Dean out in the quarters. At MB9, they would meet in the Sweet 16 after Dean beat Neil Ver Planck and Jason beat Jillian Kubacki. In a match few watched, Dean Allen was taken to three games by Salmon before advancing to the quarters for the ninth time in nine years.

Brett Boden is a good dude, plain and simple. He topped another good gal when beating Dr. Annie to advance to the Sweet 16. Boden reached the semis of MB8, and he was back to the quarters (at least) after beating Joe Wenzel.

Ryan LePeak is scary-good. He also likes neon. The lone member of the orange-garb wearing Prison City group advanced to the quarters after beating Toledoballer Dan Kubacki, and then Mike Price on Price’s own home turf. Price had a couple opportunities to put LePeak away on the last throw, but couldn’t make it happen.

I’m not sure if it was a surprise win, but Josh Whitfield bested Casey Frushour to reach the Sweet 16. Meanwhile Andy Frushour outlasted Bobbi Duchene to set up another Whitfield-Frushour match. The commish beat older brother Matt in the MB8 quarters, and did the same to Josh in the Sweet 16 to reach the quarters for the seventh straight year.

From the Memoirs…“After the Big Rack, I ran to the restroom. On my way back to the courts I passed Joe Frushour who was heading to the concession stand. I asked him how he’d been playing and he said, ‘Lost to Andy in my first match, haven’t lost since.’ I told him I hoped I didn’t have to play him in the next round. I walk over to the board to check out my matchup and I see ‘Ross vs. Frushour, J.’ Great.

“We head back over to Court A to commence with the afternoon session. I’ve never won an afternoon session match. Never come close. Don’t think I’ve ever even won a game. I’m not an afternoon player.

“First game, Joe beats me pretty easily. Something like 15-12. And that was a misleading 12 by me. Joe got after it and I was ill prepared. Second game, Joe jumps out to a 3-0 lead. It wasn’t going to be 0-2 BBQ, but it was going to be close. Then it happened. Down 3-0. Throwing from the tree line towards center courts, I start to feel it. One 3-ball. Then another. Then a third. Joe matches with a three of his own. I think I said ‘nice shot’ but I wasn’t thinking about his balls. (Phrasing!) I release a high arcing shot and nail a 4th 3-pointer. A 12 monkeys! I go to high five Joe, but then quickly think better of it. Did Jordan high-five Ehlo? Does Tiger high-five Phil? (I’m Jordan and Tiger in this scenario). I felt bad, but Joe high-fived me anyway. I took a 9-3 lead as fast as you can say Erickson Park. I went on to win game two, I believe 15-11. I had done it! I won an afternoon game! And squared things up with Joe. It was on to a deciding third game. Two gladiators who had warmed up together, who studied the other’s entire repertoire all day, who knew when the other would zig instead of zag, were set for one last battle to 15 points. Glory to the victor. A $1.25 hot dog to the loser.

“There were no 12 Monkeys in game 3, but I steadily pulled away from Joe and won. Might’ve been 15-9? Didn’t matter because for the first time in 4 years I had won an afternoon match! I was riding high! I was a win away from the unlikeliest quarterfinal spot since George Mason went to the Final Four. I was ready.

“My sweet 16 match was against Dan Kidle. After I asked him if he was really skipping the USA/Mexico match in September he proceeded to beat me 16-0, 15-0. So ummm… I wasn’t really all that ready. But still, for a brief moment in time… as my fourth set of golf balls united by rope swung over the bottom bar giving me a coveted 12 Monkeys, I was truly better than anyone who was playing Monkeyball at that precise second. Don’t think I won’t remind people of that over and over.”

QUARTERFINALS

The first quarterfinal pitted the #1 seed from the Top 16, and arguably the #1 seed from the outside courts. Matt Danely had never made it this far at Worlds, and I’m sure his nerves were on edge. This was Eric Trinoskey’s fourth trip to the quarters, but that’s as far as he had ever been. I can only imagine the loud support MBJ would receive if he — everyone’s favorite MBaller — ever made the semis. We’ll have to wait another year to find out because this was Danely’s time to shine. This was the match that kick-started his hot streak, and certainly gave him the confidence he belonged with Monkeyball’s elite. Danely won in straight sets: 15-9, 15-5.

Kidle-OstersIn what was described by both combatants as the most intense match of the day, reigning silver medalist Dan Kidle and the top female baller Andi Osters went at it. Dan had to be looking forward to a potential finals rematch against Dean, and Osters was seeking her first semifinal appearance since MB3. It started out all-Osters as she took the first game 15-0. But then vintage Dan Kidle showed up – focused, no nonsense, and deadly – and took the second two games 15-8, 15-4 to move to the semis. (At right, Osters needed this blue rope to hit to stay alive – you can see that she didn’t catch the break.)

When Dean gets going, he’s hard to stop. In last year’s semis he topped Brett Boden, 15-8, 15-4. This year wasn’t any better for Monkeyball’s favorite kindergarten teacher, as Brett lost quickly – 15-2, 15-4. Boden has made it to the quarters, semis and quarters the last three years, so don’t sleep on him when you see him in the Top 16 at MB10.

Ryan LePeak and Andy Frushour have made a habit of running into each other in the knockout stages of big tournaments. They first met in the Top 16 at MB7 with Frushour winning the opening match of the tournament. LePeak won the next matchup at the 2012 Mason Indoor Tournament, and Frushour won in the Sweet 16 at MB8. LePeak’s stock (and rank) has continued to rise, and he has become one of the toughest opponents in the game. After a back-and-forth, big-rack-throwing first game won by Frushour (15-13), Frushour stayed hot in game two while LePeak fell just off the pace. A 15-1 win put Frushour in the semis for the fifth time in six years.

SEMIFINALS

I think everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion that Dan Kidle would have no problem disposing of Matt Danely in the semifinal. Well, everyone accept for Matt and his loud supporters: dad Rex and son Quentin. After losing game one 15-12, Danely continued his string of big racks to win the second two games 15-0, 15-13. For the first time ever a player outside of the Top 16 would be playing for the Monkeyball World Title.

On paper the second semifinal was a battle of heavyweights — two former champions and a rematch of the MB4 final won by Dean Allen and the MB7 final won by Andy Frushour. Had they paid for tickets, I’m sure Monkeyball fans would have been asking for a refund. Frushour’s 4s, 5s and 6s could not keep pace with Dean’s 6s, 7s and 8s+. It wasn’t a bad showing, but was a recipe for a beat down on the scorecard. The five-time champ dispatched of Frushour in record time, winning 15-2, 15-1.

In the who-cares consolation match, Dan Kidle needed only three racks to trash Frushour, 15-0.

FINALS

If there was ever a David vs. Goliath Monkeyball match, this was it. The five-time champ against a guy who had never made it past the sweet 16. I’m not sure anyone thought this would be a match, but all those people were wrong.

Game one was very competitive, with Dean winning 15-11. If Danely was feeling the pressure, he didn’t show it. Game two was another back and forth affair. With the game tied at 11, Allen was +3 on the rack when Danely dropped a 3 to tie it and then a 2 to take the 13-11 lead.

With a game two victory in sight Danely showed some nerves with a wide-right second toss, but the rest were money as his 6 versus Dean’s empty rack knotted up the match at one a piece.

Game three was for all the marbles. Did David have one last stone in his sling? Unlike the biblical tale, Goliath won this Monkeyball battle. Trailing 7-4, Danely’s sling came up empty at the worst possible time. You can’t have an empty rack against Dean, and he made Danely pay by dropping 9, including a game-winning 3, to take his sixth world title.

It was a great battle by the unheralded Danely, but you have to tip your hat to Dean Allen. That dude is a freaking robot and magician with Monkeyball ropes in his hands. I know we’ll all have our hands full as we all try to keep Dean from winning his seventh world title at MB10.

SHOUT-OUTS

MB9-SpikeballI’m sure you all noticed that weird volleyball-looking game being played just outside the center courts. Well, that’s Spikeball, and it’s almost as awesome as Monkeyball. Thanks to our friends at Spikeball for donating two free sets for our MB9 champion and to our Big Rack Challenge winner.

Another big THANK YOU goes out to our friends at Inside Tailgating. If you ever need to buy something for the hard-to-gift person, look through the magazine we gave you at check in, talk to the folks at Inside Tailgating, and get that special someone some sweet BBQ or tailgating gear.

To the 17 rookies: please come back next year. To the 83 participants: did you realize you played 257 games at MB9? To the Junior Monkeyballers: I expect big things from you in the coming years.

4-Women-SocksCasey: awesome t-shirts again. Damn, you’re good. To the set up and tear down crew: your work does not go unnoticed. Thanks for getting up early and helping make this event a great success. Mom and dad: who knew you host 30 people in your home? Thanks for letting all those crazies stay at your house. Em, Abby and Kate: thanks for letting me live in my Monkeyball fantasy world for a few months each summer. I couldn’t do this without your help.

See you in 2014 – the Year of Monkeyball!

 

 

 

 


Comments

  1. Kevin Singleton says:

    Congrats Dean.

  2. Carlos Danger says:

    I love you Dean!

  3. AO says:

    Congrats to Dean. Again.

    Forgot my blow dart gun and it bit all of us in the ass.

  4. On the couch in Alabama says:

    Congrats to Dean and Matt! And thanks to the Commish and The Frushours for hosting the best party of the year!

  5. Malibu says:

    Had a blast! Malibu and Lazer will be hitting the eliminator course hard in the offseason and expect us to be gunning for the title in 2014!

Leave a Reply