MB7: Monkey Off His Back, Frushour Wins Worlds

The photos says it all: seconds after the gold medal winning toss, Andi Osters and Jason Salmon join Commissioner Frushour and his girls for hugs and high fives.  Fun times.

Champion: Andy Frushour (DeWitt, MI)
Runner-Up: Dean Allen (Redford, MI)
Third Place: Jason Salmon (Marietta, GA)
# of Players: 101

Complete MB7 Brackets (PDF)

HEADLINES

Although we were missing a few Top 20 players, it was the deepest Worlds field ever.  The play on our 18 courts was worthy of the world class moniker – especially the quarterfinals and beyond.  Rain may have been an issue prior to MB5, but after the MB5 deluge a little rain storm here or there doesn’t faze us.  We had about an hour’s worth of showers at MB7, but no one even batted an eye.  Thanks in large part to some amazing Jim Blair BBQ, we raised $1,000 for Grace’s Gang.  That money bought an insulin pump for a needy child – how amazing is that?  (If you want your tears jerked, watch Grace’s video again.)  And in the end, the Commissioner finally won the World title by beating the most decorated player in the game. Here are some clips from MB7.



PREVIEW VIDEOS

In case you missed it, Andi and Andy once again filmed a weeks-worth of video previews for MB7.  This year they put over 80 minutes of HD video onto YouTube, and they had some additional videos on top of that (kudos, again, Dan and Matt).  You can watch all the videos here: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Or, you can spend five minutes watching the highlights in this week in review.

MORNING QUALIFYING: TOP 16

It’s always hard to recap the Top 16 morning matches.  There is so much high quality Monkeyball on the courts, but really, it’s without the pressure of the afternoon knockout stage.  With that said, some items did stand out.  For the second year-in-a-row top-ranked Jason Salmon won the morning session, and for the second year-in-a-row he beat Andy Frushour in the Top 16 championship.  Chuck Trinoskey rolled over four-time champ Dean Allen en route to the #3 seed.  Dan Renner won his first matches again in 2011, highlighted by many runs while wiping away the competition – he was rarely #2 on the MB courts in the morning.  Eric Trinoskey has a history of hot starts at Worlds.  Last year he threw a 12 Monkeys on his first rack of his first match.  This year he skunked the highly-touted Keith Hagen in game one.   Speaking of Hagen, he may have provided the most excitement on the Center Courts.  After dropping three 3s on Kevin Gunns, he pulled off his shirt revealing a Hagen-sized Union Jack undershirt, and then he promptly hung another triple for the day’s first 12 Monkeys. (The picture at the right has been blurcled to protect whatever dignity he has left.)

There are actually four Top 16 players who felt the pressure of the morning – the four players who lost their first two games and were forced into a play-in game to make the afternoon.  Andi Osters was just terrible.  She said it, and so did everyone else.   Rex Danely actually had an excuse – he couldn’t see.  He was a little late to the Old Orchard after a morning trip to Urgent Care to take care of the Poison Ivy in his eyes.  Brent Morrow was a surprise recipient of two-straight losses, but everyone knew he’d pick up the pace in the afternoon.  And poor Sean Dameron; the guy just can’t catch a break at Worlds.  One of these years he’s going to sweep the competition – because he IS very good – but it hasn’t yet happened in Dimondale.  For the first time, though, all four Top 16 won their play-in games to make the afternoon.

MORNING QUALIFYING: GROUP A

After taking MB6 off, Andrew Alexander came back on fire.  Alexander won his first three games by a combined score of 45-0, and then only gave up three in the Group A championship when beating Brett Boden.  Boden made the afternoon in 2010, only to get shutout in the Round of 32.  He must’ve practiced a lot with his boy Hagen in the past year, because he came to play at MB7.  Big brother got all the pre-Worlds attention, but little Joey Wenzel proved he’s got game of his own, finishing third in Group A.  I wonder if ‘lil Little Joey will also be a baller?  Todd Byers was in the Top 16 at MB5, so it’s no surprise this member of the Grand Ledge crew qualified fourth from Group A.  Sheri is the overlooked Gunns baller (husband Kevin is a former semifinalist) but she made it to her second straight afternoon session with a fifth place finish.  Sheri’s co-worker Amanda Wenzel continued MB’s streak of a pregnant woman making the afternoon.  Wenzel battled her baby’s daddy at one point, prompting many to ask me to never again put husband and wife in the same group.  The final Group A qualifier is a professional Cornholer who would no doubt kick all of our asses if we were throwing bags instead of ropes.  Bernie Nabors traveled with his American Tailgating League cohort from North Carolina, and after a night in the D, we were just happy they found their way to the Old Orchard.

Melissa Baldwin was oh-so-close.  Under the tutelage of Andi Osters (this may have been her problem) she’s come a long way since MB6.  She just needed just one more win to make the afternoon, but that one win would be tough.  Byers and Nabors bear her, and it came down to a play-in match against the Top 16’s Rex Danely.  Fighting poison ivy in the eyes and a kicking in the ass, Danely took out his aggression on poor Baldwin and advanced to the afternoon.

Matt Anderson advanced to the Big Rack Challenge championship, but his luck wasn’t as hot during Group A qualifying as he failed to reach the afternoon. Jim Ziehmer and his wife-to-be Megan Carmody (on 9/10/11 – see MC, I won’t forget) put up valiant rookie efforts.  I’m sure the Pennine Ridge crew in Grand Ledge will whip them into shape before MB8.  Shannon Nobles was back for a second year at the Orchard, and if she sticks to a practice regimen with Baldwin, she could win a few matches in 2012.  J?  I love J Mankowski’s enthusiasm for MB.  One of these years it will pay off with a trip to the afternoon.  Speaking of J:  J, Amanda and Erin Hagen were all essentially playing doubles at MB7 – it can’t be easy playing pregnant (and good luck with the babies!).

MORNING QUALIFYING: GROUP B

Carl Swan is the lovable loser of Monkeyball.  He’s always on the verge of doing something big at Worlds, but never quite gets there.  At MB7, though, Carl swept through Group B to take the #1 seed.  It should also be noted that Carl is a wife beater, besting his wife in the winners bracket, 15-1.  Adam Schrauben is always ready for playing sports while drinking (I saw him and his tight-ass coaches shorts dominate a wiffleball tournament this summer, all while downing numerous PBRs), so it’s no surprise he’s advanced to the afternoon in multiple trips to the Worlds.  Although her husband gave her a whoopin’, Misty Swan otherwise went undefeated in locking up the #3 seed (and a 10-1 morning record for the Swan couple).  Matt Wright followed up his 4th place morning finish from a year ago with another 4th place qualifying performance.  A semifinalist at MB1 and member of the Top 16 last year, Andy Kidle was out to show his poor MB6 performance was a fluke.  He finished 5th in Group B, but advanced to the afternoon.  Manuel Tello of the Prison City Bandits helped show the MB community that Jackson ballin’ is no joke.  Jo Kidle advanced to the afternoon yet again, this time toping newcomer, but heralded, Bobbi Duchene to get the 7th seed.

Unfortunately for Bobbi, she was matched up against MB TV’s Andi Osters in a play-in match to reach the afternoon.  AO had been horseshit all day, but finally woke up long enough to win the match going away, 15-5.  I’m sure we’ll hear more from Bobbi in the coming years.

Dawn Jenkins had the best entrance to the Old Orchard for MB7.  Seeing Osters unload her car, Dawn stopped in the middle of driveway and gave AO a double finger salute (I’m guessing she was delivering that message from her aunt. Elaine: I kid, I kid.).  Jamie Price flew in from Brooklyn for MB7 festivities, hoping to see the afternoon like he did at MB6; but like his mom Bobbi, he was unable to advance.  The cutest high school couple at the Orchard also didn’t advance, but Clare McFadden and Casey Binder are already talking about hosting a tournament of their own this fall.  Although Joe Zimmerman, Liz Stomski, and Kate McPherson didn’t make the afternoon, their grilled breakfast sandwiches competed with the smoker for the best smells of the morning.  And although 6th-grader Emma Hintz was 0-2 BBQ, her help in the food tent did not go unnoticed.  Thanks for all the help, Emma!

MORNING QUALIFYING: GROUP C

So who’s the best from the Prison City Bandit crew?  Joe Pudil made a case for himself in Group C qualifying.  Morning wins over the highly-touted Matt Young and Jackson brethren Ned Huestis led Pudil to the #1 seed.  Pudil topped Jon Ross to win the group, but only after Ross led 9-0 in the winners bracket final.  We’ll talk more about Ross’s collapse a little later.  The aforementioned Huestis took the three seed, although A & A still haven’t figured out how to say his last name.  The Godfather of Monkeyball, Joe Frushour, made it to the afternoon with his fourth place finish.  Matt Young had an up-and-down morning, but advanced with a #5 seed.  After being dubbed the biggest disappointment at MB6, Tony Olds got his groove back and received the six seed.  After her coach ordered 100-throws-per-night the week of MB7, Katie Kidle was more than prepared for her time at the Orchard; three morning wins got her to the afternoon.

Mary Ann Thayer didn’t catch any breaks with her play-in game opponent – Brent Morrow.  Morrow had reached the quarterfinals in each of the last five years, and even Thayer’s trash talk couldn’t keep him from going for a sixth-straight appearance in quarters.  Morrow won handily, 15-3.

A pregnant Maggie Olds was fantastic at MB6, but the un-pregnant Maggie couldn’t get it together in 2011. Jillian Kubacki won three games, and she won those by a combined score of 45-3, but she fell one W short of reaching the afternoon.  Her partners-in-crime, Dave and Dan Kubacki, also went home early.  The Kubacki Bros. drove all the way from Ohio, only to face each other in an elimination game (sorry guys, you figure the Commish would match you up with one of the other 99 ballers you’d never played before).  After a breakout tournament at MIS last fall, Jason Quaine couldn’t keep up the momentum and once again failed to advance to the afternoon.

MORNING QUALIFYING: GROUP D

At MB6 Matt Danely was a win away from the afternoon, losing to Top 16 Scott Salmon in the play-in game.  Danely didn’t sweat it this year in winning group D.  Brett Thiel had to work his way through the losers bracket in 2010 before qualifying for the afternoon, but this year he took the easy route in taking the #2 seed.  Josh Whitfield survived a winners bracket game against his brother Matt to make the afternoon, and then topped big bro a second time to get the #3 seed while Matt finished #4.  By my count, there were seven members of the Price/Duchene/Schultz clan at the Old Orchard, and all eyes were on Mike & Jamie Price and Bobbi Duchene to make the afternoon.  Who would’ve guessed all three with be trunk-slamming before the afternoon?  Christy Price, though, represented for the fam in taking the #5 seed.  A & A had their eyes on Jedidiah “Not a Duggar” Blanton to make the afternoon (which he didn’t) – but we should have been watching his girlfriend Annie Kirk.  Annie won five morning matches to take the six seed.  Battling for the seven seed were two of mid-Michigan’s most connected people – John Hill and Mike Price.  Hill, still stinging from that crazy loss to Kevin Singleton at MB6 made short work of Price to qualify for the afternoon for the second year-in-a-row.

The loss to John Hill dropped Price into the dreaded play-in game against Top 16 Sean Dameron.  The #3 ranked Dameron doesn’t have a good history at the Orchard, and it continued with his 0-2 record leading into the Price match.  With an afternoon berth on the line, though, Dameron beat Price 15-5.

I think Al Schrauben was still resting on his laurels after beating Chuck Trinoskey in a game at MB6.  Or maybe he was just tired as he was spotted taking a nap during the afternoon rain showers.  Heather Hill had a chance to show who’s the best of the Hills, but unfortunately she finished one win away from the afternoon (but she’s always good for MB  love on Facebook and Twitter).  Aimee Trinoskey drove the Commish, Casey and MBJ to Founders and Bells on Thursday, so nothing of ill repute will be written about her.  Megan McCool is another one of Monkeyball’s biggest supporters, but yet again, it was a quick day for her at the Old Orchard.  And Stacey, Stacey, Stacey – I was pulling for you.  Stacey Moore is the brains behind the American Tailgating League and last winter’s MegaGate event in Vegas.  I was hoping Stacey could get at least one win in his Worlds debut, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Look for MegaGate 2012 info coming soon, right Stacey?

BIG RACK CHALLENGE

The Big Rack Challenge made its debut at MB6 to rave reviews, so we brought it back for year two.   This quick competition simply pits one baller against another, with each getting only four throws at the rack.  Whoever scores the most points wins.  64 players paid the $1 entry fee for the winner-take all tournament, and as an added bonus, the American Tailgating League doubled the pot to give the winner a $128 payday.  Casey Frushour beat Jamie Price in one semi, while Matt Anderson knocked off Andy Kidle in the other.  In the final, Casey threw a six-point big rack to take down Matt.  And almost immediately, Casey announced Grace’s Gang would receive all of his $128 winnings.  Classy move, C-Frush.  (At right, Casey, Jim Blair, Stacey Moore from the ATL, Andy Frushour and Bernie Nabors for the ATL.)

AFTERNOON CHAMPIONSHIP SESSION

The afternoon really heats up in the Quarterfinals, but there plenty of storylines before reaching the final eight.  After bailing on MB6, Matt Young came to the Orchard with high expectations.  He beat world #1 Jason Salmon in the game one before falling in three.  Salmon then went on to beat Gunns to reach the Sweet 16.   Quoting Hagen: “Put Gunns in the same category as Scott Salmon – a good player and a riot”.

Lots of story lines helped determine our second quarterfinalist.  Sean Dameron had another early exodus from Worlds, losing to Ned H.  Ned dropped a 12 Monkeys on Andrew Alexander, but still only scored 8 points in the game and fell in straight sets.  On the side other of the bracket, two of our pre-tournament sleepers battled in a three-game match with Jo Kidle besting Matt Whitfield.  Jo followed up that win with a huge three-game win over Casey Frushour.  Andrew then made quick work of Jo to make the quarters, but it has to be asked: is Jo now the top female MBaller in the world?  The Commish says yes.

Remember when Jon Ross was up 9-0 in the Group C championship, only to lose 15-9?  He followed that loss up with a 15-0 Monkeystomp from Ryan LePeak, and then he was down 9-0 in game two before ultimately losing 15-4.  Quoting Jon Ross: “I lost 42 points in a row. Forty-f***ing-two.”  (And don’t forget that first-round loss in the BRC. Hehehe.) Dan Renner continued his hot hand beating Andy Kidle and advancing to face LePeak with a quarterfinal spot on the line.  LePeak unveiled a new throwing technique on the day, and for the most part it was a success – until it rained.  And then nothing stuck, but it did for Renner, and Renner advanced to the quarters for the first time.

Dean Allen didn’t have a problem making the quarterfinals again.  It’s no surprise since he’s been in the final 8 at EVERY World Championship.  To get to the afternoon, Dean handily beat Poison Ivy Face Rex Danely.  But for Rex to make it that far he had to beat his daughter and son in succession (Misty Swan and Matt Danely).  Finally, props again to Katie Kidle for making the afternoon – all that work paid off.

Tony Olds wasn’t a disappointment this year, but he did lose in the afternoon’s first round to Sheri Gunns.  Gunns and Andy Frushour then battled in the rain, and they were aided by two naked 2-year-olds helping to retrieve ropes at the end of each rack (it’s no surprise that they were the kids of Gunns and Morrow, right?).  Dan Kidle advanced to face Frushour, but it was no contest.  Kidle hung on early, but Frushour overpowered his opponent with what may have been his highest-scoring match of the tournament.

John Hill couldn’t get back his magic from MB6 and fell to Matt Wright in three games.  And playing Jesus is never easy, as Wright succumbed to Eric Trinoskey in three.  Osters and Joe Wenzel battled in a three-set opening rounder, but Wenzel finished off the voice of Monkeyball TV in three games.  I’ll say it again, it was an awful day for Osters – and we won’t be seeing her on the Center Courts in ‘12.  Jackson’s Joe Pudil was the second member of the Prison City Bandits to make the Sweet 16, but he, too, fell to His Holiness.  For Trinoskey, this made his third-straight trip to the quarters (with no semifinal appearances).

We all expected a Price or two to reach the afternoon, but surprisingly, Christy was the only Price rep left standing after morning qualifying.  Jackson’s Manuel Tello took care of her in the opening round before falling to former World Champ, Chuck Trinoskey.  The other side of the bracket featured a grudge match between practice partners Keith Hagen and Brett Boden.  Boden has had nightmares for the past year after his 15-0, 15-0 dismissal at MB6, and Hagen came into MB7 as THE hot pick (which was backed up by many purported 12 Monkeys in practice). It was the perfect setup for Hagen to roll into a match against Chuck T.  Boden wanted nothing to do with that, going on a four-game tear and dropping mad racks on both Hagen and Chuck to make the quarters.

The final quarterfinal spot was anybody’s guess, but those with the smart money would’ve opted for Brent Morrow since he reached the quarters in the five preceding years (and yet, somehow, always comes in under the radar).  Morrow swept Josh Whitfield and a survived a three-game match against Carl Swan to set up a match with Joe “Carp” Frushour.  Carp had beaten everyone’s favorite Cornholer Bernie Nabors, and another pre-tournament favorite Jim Wenzel, to get to the Morrow match.  Morrow takes a lot of unnecessary abuse because of his deliberate style, but the guy is good, and he beat Carp to get to the quarters.  Again.

QUARTERFINALS

The first quarterfinal pitted a couple guys who had been there before.  Andrew Alexander finished second at MB2, and he was back after a one-year hiatus from Worlds.  Jason Salmon also has a silver medal in his trophy case (MB5), and he finished 4th at MB6.  In the end the lopsided score line of 15-10, 15-6 wasn’t nearly indicative of the dogfight between these vets, but Jason Salmon moved on to his third-straight semifinal appearance.

Everything was going right for Dan Renner in the second quarterfinal.  He was dumping big racks on four-time Champ Dean Allen, and led 10-2 early in the match.  Renner got the match to game point (up 14-11) and then the momentum shifted.  With Renner already +8 on the rack, Dean dropped a three and knocked Renner’s three off (a 6 point swing) .  After Renner missed on is final toss, Dean landed another triple to keep the game alive – it was a real stomach punch.  You could feel Renner deflating, and it was over.  Dean went on to win game one 16-14 before coasting through game two and back to the semis.

For the third time in three years, cousins Eric Trinoskey and Andy Frushour met late in the afternoon.  For the second time, it was for the right to play in the semis.  Monkeyball vets know that nothing fazes MBJ, he just keeps throwing…and drinking.  His MB balance with red party cup in hand is impeccable.  Game one saw Frushour get out to a big lead, before MBJ fought back to make the game respectable.  Both players threw haymakers in game two, and Eric topped Andy 15-12.  Game three was quick and painless, as the Commish stayed undefeated against cuz and reached the semis for the third time in four years.

You couldn’t ask for two nicer guys in the last quarterfinal matchup – Brent Morrow vs. Brett Boden.  But what you could ask for is a quicker pace!  In a three-game match that seemingly took forever, Morrow outlasted the preschool teacher and reached the semis for the third time in his Monkeyball career.  Boden has a goal of playing in the Top 16 next year, and his skills at this year’s tournament proved he belongs with the big dogs.

SEMIFINALS

All four members of the final four had been there at least two times before.  The first semifinal was a rematch of a 2009 quarterfinal game between Jason Salmon and Dean Allen.  SoMoCo’s Salmon won a back and forth first game, 15-13, and was surely thinking he had the four-time champ on the ropes.  But like all great champs, Allen came back swinging and taking the last two games by identical 15-6 scores.

On the other Center Court, Frushour continued his hot Monkeyballin’ with a quick 15-7 win over Morrow.  Morrow will tell you (and Frushour will agree) that the Commish always seems to get some lucky slop when playing Morrow.  The luck stopped in game two as Morrow jumped out to a 14-2 lead.  On his heels, Frushour started dropping bombs, and just like that, he scored the next 14 points to advance to his second Monkeyball World Championship match.

While the Commish was in the porta-john listening to “Lose Yourself,” Jason Salmon won the bronze medal match and Brent Morrow was sent home without any hardware for the third time in as many tries.

CHAMPIONSHIP

So it came down to the Commish and the Champ.  Some years the championship doesn’t live up to the billing of the best versus the best – this time, though, the crowd got its money’s worth.  It was back and forth, huge rack after huge rack, triple after triple, crazy breaks and oohs & aahs from the crowd.  This match had it all, but unfortunately I don’t remember much of the whirlwind.  Thanks to some great video work from Jason Salmon, though, you can all relive the last two racks of game one and the last three of game two.  It was some world class Monkeyball from two of the game’s best.

Game 1: Frushour (blue) leads 11-9
Game 1: Allen (green) leads 14-11
Game 2: Allen leads 11-8
Game 2: Frushour leads 12-11
Game 2: Allen leads 13-12

The 16-14, 15-13 win gave Frushour his 20th tournament title, but more importantly his first world championship.

For 4,000 words I’ve been trying not to gloat, but in the interest of keeping an accurate history of this event I feel it necessary to say “screw the modesty” and let loose for 100 words… I was effing on fire almost the entire day.  When it first started raining (against Sheri Gunns) things went cold for a few racks; otherwise, it was easily my highest scoring day of Monkeyball ever.  Even in my two losses (Salmon and MBJ) my opponents just happened to be more on fire.  It was ridiculous, and it felt awesome.  And it happened in crunch time, too.  In the five racks shown above, Dean scorched the ladders with 24 points – but I dropped 30! Damn, that felt good.

FINAL WORDS

Ok, back to being humble…

By most accounts it was the best Worlds yet.  We had 101 players, including 15 rookies, play 294 games on 18 courts.  We raised $1,000 for Grace’s Gang.  We ate some ridiculous meat from the smoker.  And, once again, we didn’t let the rain keep us down.  I can’t wait for MB8.

One last thing… lots of thank yous to go around… to the Blairs for hosting us yet again, and to Jim for cooking up the meat… to my extended family for all the help setting up the Old Orchard… to mom, Nancy and Emma for serving lunch… to AO for her brilliance in the preview videos… and to by my bride of 10 years (!) who has let me/us have a lot of fun with our fake sport.  See you all in 2012!


Comments

  1. Fka "#1" and "Webster" says:

    Mad props to the Commish for the win; well done. This was the best competition I have seen at Worlds in the last several years. Matt Young and Andrew Alexander came to play, and I bet, will make some noise next year.

  2. #9 says:

    Well said Webster. The field was deep. Time to go Tiger Woods and redo my mechanics. I doubt my wife will go for that plan.

  3. Mb evangelist says:

    Well done, Commish! Thanks to you & your family for the hospitality, & for hosting another incredible event.

  4. Brett Thiel says:

    CONGRATS!!! It’s about time 😉

  5. Mary Ann Thayer says:

    Yeah! My dollar was well spent! I knew you could do it!

  6. dren says:

    Congrats comish! Well deserved win.

  7. Runner up says:

    Nice job frush, best match I can recall ever playing in.

  8. Runner Up says:

    Wow, when playing u never really remember the scores and the big throws. I didn’t even know I lead late in both games! Crazy back and forth action. Kudos to the commish again:)

  9. Dren says:

    won his first matches again in 2011, highlighted by many runs while wiping away the competition – he was rarely #2 on the MB courts in the morning.

  10. Elaine Dameron says:

    I promise I didn’t ask Dawn to deliver the double finger salute on my behalf. I think that was for the “Golden Girl” hairdo remark!
    Congratulations again to you Andy for the golden balls and for heading up another stellar event.

  11. two blind ivy says:

    Thanks again for a great weekend…wish I could have seen it!!

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