MB4: Dean Allen Three-Peats

The MB4 preview article highlighted three issues/questions for at the Old Orchard. In short: 1) the center court arena setting, corporate sponsors and 100+ players were great for the growth of the game; 2) the First Family of Monkeyball – Andy, Casey and Joe Frushour – filled three of the eight quarterfinal spots, and 3) Dean Allen had little trouble winning his third straight World Championship.

Champion: Dean Allen
Runner-Up: Andy Frushour
Third Place: Joe Guzowski
# of Players: 111

Results/Bracket (PDF)

FINAL FOUR

Let’s start at the end to begin this review. Dean Allen did it again. For the third straight year, Dean earned the Golden Monkeyballs. He didn’t dominate like he did in 2006, but he didn’t scrape by like he did at MB3 either – he was consistent, workmanlike and didn’t lose a single game all day, quite an impressive feat. The Commish, Andy Frushour , had himself an afternoon.   After a so-so morning session, Frushour caught fire when it mattered and swept his way to the championship match. There’s no doubt that the Top Rookie Award goes to Joe Guzowski. Qualifying seventh from Group D, Cinderalla fought his way to the semis. After racing to a 12-0 semifinal lead on Dean, reality set in and Dean raced to the Finals in two straight games. The other semifinal was never in doubt, but Kevin Gunns made it entertaining nonetheless with his siren entrance and bathroom exit.

AFTERNOON QUALIFIERS

Joe Frushour capped his best-ever Worlds appearance with a loss to Dean in the Quarterfinals. That match was highlighted by a rack of Dean’s 12 Monkeys and Joe’s 3-threes – 21 points on one Limb! Casey Frushour debuted his pinch and won Group D before falling to former U-M housemate Guzowski in the quarters. It’s been quite a run for Brent Morrow. After finishing fourth in ’06 and ’07, Brent Morrow had another great day in the ’08 World Championships. Morrow won Group A before falling in the Quarterfinals to a hot Andy Frushour. In the quarter few knew was happening (they played in virtual obscurity on the Group C courts), Kevin Gunns topped Chuck Trinoskey in a three-game match. Chuck finished second in the inaugural World Championship, and this was his best result since. I think the earphones helped him focus throughout the day (I hear the Eagles were the music of choice).

The Jonker brothers, Zach and Travis, had a great first trip to the Old Orchard, both losing in the Sweet 16. 2005 champ Jim Blair was knocked out in the Sweet 16, as was Jeremy Foco who had made the Quarterfinals at MB3. Dan Kidle FINALLY lived up to his expectations after consecutive poor Worlds performances, taking Brent Morrow to three games in the final 16. The Monkeyball Jesus, Eric Trinoskey, made the Sweet 16 after beating ordained minister Josh Vis – I swear to God that match happened. (While on this topic, I received this text from a hungry Monkeyballer minutes after the completion of the event:  “The cashier at burger king asked me about my shirt. I spread the gospel like john or paul or one of the others”.) Andy Kidle continues to excel at Worlds using his unique Traddy-style toss – fast, low and lefty. The last member of this year’s Sweet 16 is also the top Southern Monkeyball Conference performer, Jason Salmon. Salmon won Group C in the morning, and I’ll bet he makes an even deeper run next year; don’t be surprised if this baller knocks off Dean Allen at MB5 (yes, this is my first prediction for the 2009 Words).

We’ve been hearing for over a year that Snoop Wenzel was a stud “Horseball” player; apparently those skills are transferable to M-Ball. Scott Salmon reached the afternoon session by winning successive Group C Losers bracket games 16-14, 16-14, 16-14 and 15-13. (Ironically, Scott’s SoMoCo buddy and Doppleganger, Jay “Sofa” Lomenick, lost his only two games of the day, 16-14 and 16-14.) Jordan Cobb proved that IT guys can play MB, too, making a surprise run into the afternoon (Jordan: live stat streaming next year, OK?). Lost in the Dean Allen spotlight was the performance of his wife, Tina Allen.   Tina won 5 matches in the morning en route to a #5 seed. One of her two morning losses was to Dean. Andy Dressler finished 2nd in Group C, but fell one match short of playing his potential brother-in-law in the Sweet 16. Andrew Alexander continues a three-year run of the defending Worlds Runner-Up crapping out early: Chuck T lost early in 2006 after winning silver in ’05; Curtis McFall was out early at MB3 after his second place finish at MB2; and now Andrew Alexander loses earlier than expected after his epic three-game final loss to Dean Allen last year. Chuck Giller and Todd Byers carried the flag for the Meadow Woods (Grand Ledge, Mich.) contingent of ballers by making it to the afternoon. Dan Renner survived a nasty hangover (the same can’t be said for wife, Julie – she didn’t die or anything, but I’m sure she felt like it) and made the afternoon session for the second straight year. Props to Matt Young for making it to the afternoon, and more importantly, inventing new MB hand gestures – make it rain, Matt. Finally, the championship forecast for Andi Osters wasn’t quite accurate. The top seed in Group D, Osters was pushed in every match and finished the day by losing five-straight games, including the MB3 rematch with Andy Frushour to start MB4’s afternoon. Osters will certainly be back with a vengeance at MB5.

MORE PLAYERS

Four players fell one game short of reaching the afternoon: Chuck Salmon, Scott Engelsman, John Griffith and Curtis McFall. This should feed their fire in preparation for MB5. The Biggest Trash Talker award goes to Mary Ann Thayer. Here’s a sampling: after knocking off Zach Jonker in her first match of the day, she was pitted against Zach’s wife Sara. She greeted Sara by saying, “I already bagged your husband this morning. He was quick and he was easy.”   Hilarious. Remember how we said rules officials may cut some long matches to 11 points, or you could voluntarily play to 11. I didn’t think it would actually happen, but it did. Two of SoMoCo’s finest opted to play the day’s only shortened game, with Michelle Salmon beating sister-in-law Melanie Salmon, 11-0. The Wenzel crew was led by Snoop, but Joe and Amanda PersonWenzel represented as well – a great first-time showing for this new Monkeyball family. Add Tony Bihn and Tony Fuller to the not-feeling-so-hot participants. Both were expected to challenge for a spot in the afternoon. I understand Mike Roy had the intimidation factor working in his favor, but the big guy fell just short of the afternoon session.  Sean Dameron may have given Dean a run for his money in terms of time spent preparing for MB4. The Dameron family took a week to drive from Alabama on the way to Michigan, stopping at a number of attractions along the way – and Sean busted out his M-Ball ladders at their resting place every night. What happened to Tony Olds? Thanks for the music, buddy, but your two-and-out day made my quarterfinal prediction look really bad. Bill Mills didn’t last long in Group C, but he has invited us down to Birmingham, Alab., in May for a SoMoCo Derby Day tournament and party. Kari Dressler finally got a favorable draw and won three games, while Paul Mountain again just missed the afternoon with two tight losses. Carl Swan and Rex Danely are masterful car parkers, but both were eliminated in the morning. The Schrauben family disappointed: Kyle got one win, while Al and Adam were both 0-fers.

A POST-MB4 STORY

As we were about to leave the Old Orchard, I was walking to my car with arms full of stuff. My mom was next to a cooler of bottled ice water. I said, “Mom, can you put a water in my pocket?” She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “In your pocket?” I said, “Yes, my arms are full. Just put it in my shorts.” I made it to my car and emptied my arms. I was hot and I was parched. I reached into my pocket to grab the water, but it was full of freaking ICE. She thought I asked for ice in my pocket – who would want that? My shorts were soaked, my phone was sitting in a pool of cold water, and I didn’t get to have my bottle of water on the way home.

OTHER NOTES

  • Biggby Coffee and Casey’s Head were Monkeyball’s first corporate partners. Thanks for helping make this year event another great success.
  • Many people changed to the pinch for the first time. Kevin Gunns even switched to the pinch during his semifinal – that doesn’t mean much though as he ultimately opted for the dangerous and unsuccessful overhand traddy.
  • The top three competitors – Allen, Frushour and Guzowski – all utilized the pinch.
  • The red SoMoCo shirts featuring the mullet wearing Monkey were awesome, too bad they didn’t get the memo that the rules committee were supposed to stand out with their own red shirts.
  • There were numerous reports of Obama’s bus passing by the Old Orchard at 9:30. Did you see it? I’m thinking it was just his advance team preparing for Monday’s campaign stop. It’s probably not a good sign for the Obama campaign that his message of “change” did not reach MB4 – we have had the same winner three years running.
  • Of the 111 players, approximately a third of the competitors were from the Lansing area, another third from elsewhere in Michigan and the last third from out of state. In addition to Michigan, the eight other states represented at MB4 included Indiana, Illinois, New York, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and 15 players from Alabama.
  • Only two females reached the afternoon – Andi Osters and Tina Allen. Where were you Chrissy Lane, Jo Kidle, Maggie Olds, Jill Salmon, Kari Dressler, Amanda Person, Sara Jonker, Katy Hinz and Mary Ann Thayer? I’m expecting many more qualifiers next summer.
  • I predicted two of the final four, and more impressively (pat on the back) I predicted two of the four 8th place finishers in the morning session. I also correctly prognosticated 21 of the final 28.
  • How did Group D get so far behind in the morning? The group featured two red shirts and a former red shirt, one high school athletic director, one major youth soccer tournament director and the assistant to the Monkeyball Commissioner.
  • A Team Monkeyball match was played at Carp National after MB4. Team SoMoCo won quite handily. Embarrassing.
  • By the numbers: 5.5 hours of Monkeyball, 277 games played, 111 participants, 18 courts, 40 pizzas consumed,132 ice cream sandwiches devoured and 3 kegs cashed.

THANK YOU

Thank you again to Jim and Deb Blair for hosting us again at the Old Orchard. Thanks, too, to all of the folks who stayed at Carp National and arrived early to help park cars, run registration, construct tents and everything else you did to get the grounds ready for the event. Thanks to Joe Frushour for leading all the construction projects, Becky Frushour for leading all hospitality projects, and to Casey Frushour for leading all the design projects. Finally, the biggest thank you goes to my wife Emily Frushour for dealing with me and all this Monkeyball nonsense for the last few months.


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