Robinson, Larson, Childress & Fullerton Crowned 2015 BEF Junior National 9-Ball Champions.
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) presented its 27th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships August 4-7, 2015. 130 billiard student-athletes represented 31 states at the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for this year’s event which took place in conjunction with the 2015 BCA Billiard & Home Leisure Expo.
Of the 54 competitors, this year’s title of 18 & Under Boys Champion went to California Jr. State 9-Ball Champion Chris Robinson of Ventura, CA. The arena exploded as he pocketed the winning 9 ball in the finals against Atlantic Challenge Cup U.S. team member Josh Franklin from Creve Coeur, IL. Robinson came from the one-loss side after losing his third match against former World Junior U.S. team member, Manny Perez from Kansas. Newcomers Nick Kline from Prescott Valley, AZ and Zach Gurganus of Marietta, GA both made a huge splash and all four boys will be representing the U.S. at the upcoming WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships.
In the 18 & Under Girls division, 15-year-old April Larson went undefeated to continue her reign as girls champion. Minnesota’s star won 9-6 in a single-set finals against 15-year-old Emily Herpel from Freehold, NY. Third and fourth place went to junior nationals first-timers Amber Jackson of South Carolina and Hannah Hohn of South Dakota. All four ladies will be invited to represent the U.S. at the upcoming world championships.
From the field of 46 14 & Under Boys, 12-year-old Nathan Childress of North Chesterfield, VA returned with his sights set high after last year’s third place finish. With proud mom and coach present, the VA junior state champion played a near perfect set against IL & PA junior state champion, 13-year-old Kaiden Hunkins of Waukesha, WI. Both boys will also be invited to be a part of team U.S. at the upcoming world championships. Connecticut’s Lukas Fracasso-Verner and Daniel Sardoncillo of Washington both had notable third and fourth place finishes.
The 14 & Under Girls division went to 12-year-old Ashley Fullerton of Lake Park, MN but not without a fight. 12-year-old Tatum Cutting from Diamond, OH was down 8-1 in the finals ultimately losing the set 9-6 but she never gave up. Massachusetts’ players Vivian Liu (first-timer) and Keila Perez finished third and fourth respectively. Fullerton will be representing the U.S. at the upcoming world junior championships.
Interestingly, all the finals finished with a score of 9-6.
18 & Under Boys Division: 1st – Chris Robinson, 17 (Ventura, CA); 2nd – Josh Franklin, 17 (Creve Coeur, IL); 3rd -Nick Kline, 17 (Prescott Valley, AZ); 4th – Zach Gurganus, 17 (Marietta, GA)
18 & Under Girls Division: 1st – April Larson, 15 (Bloomington, MN); 2nd – Emily Herpel, 15 (Freehold, NY); 3rd -Amber Jackson, 15 (Clover, SC); 4th – Hannah Hohn, 16 (Ethan, SD)
14 & Under Boys Division: 1st – Nathan Childress, 12 (North Chesterfield, VA); 2nd – Kaiden Hunkins, 13 (Waukesha, WI); 3rd – Lukas Fracasso-Verner, 13 (Wallingford, CT); 4th – Daniel Sardoncillo, 14 (Puyallup, WA)
14 & Under Girls Division: 1st – Ashley Fullerton, 12 (Lake Park, MN); 2nd – Tatum Cutting, 12 (Diamond, OH); 3rd – Tatum Cutting, 12 (Diamond, OH); 4th – Tatum Cutting, 12 (Diamond, OH)
Newly implemented this year was the Sportsmanship Award presented by Lindenwood University. Players, spectators and staff all voted for players they believed showed remarkable sportsmanship during their matches. This year’s recipients were: Nick Kline 17 (Prescott Valley, AZ); Serena Black 17 (Warensburg, IL); Nathan Childress 12 (North Chesterfield, VA) and April Czarnecki 14 (Urbandale, IA).
Girls, 14 & Under Boys and 14 & Under Girls) received academic scholarships, custom engraved trophies and sponsored prize packages valued at nearly $2,000. Along with their victories, they also earned an opportunity to represent Team U.S.A. at the upcoming 2015 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships in Shanghai, China in November. The top four finishers also received trophies and prize packages.
Polo shirt sponsors: CueStix International & Presidential Billiards; Goody bag sponsors: Kamui, Billiards Digest, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Professor Q-Ball, Tweeten Fibre, Aramith, OB Cues, Pechauer Custom Cues, PoolDawg.com, Simonis, CSI, Specialty Incentives, Downtown Las Vegas Visitors Center and Las Vegas Visitor’s Authority; Winners’ Prize Sponsors: Predator Group, Worldwise Imports, Dr. Dave, Bullseye Billiards, Ricky Bryant & Omega Billiards, Pool Hall Plushies and Championship; Premier Sponsors of the 2015 Junior National 9-Ball Championships: Iwan Simonis, Inc, Billiard Congress of America, Diamond Billiard Products and Aramith; Official Media Sponsors: AzBilliards.com, Billiards Digest, InsidePool, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Professor Q-Ball and, NYCGrind.com
Links to online brackets CLICK HERE courtesy of Bad Boys Billiard Productions. Live stream (courtesy of Rail2Rail.tv) and live scoring (courtesy of ScoreSaloon.com).
Forty billiard student-athletes with GPAs of 3.5 or higher were recognized at the event’s banquet as this year’s BEF Academic All-Americans. Banquet guests were also treated with special guest speakers “Dr. Cue” Tom Rossman and Hall-of-Famer Allison Fisher.
New this year was the new Kamui Quest for Excellence award given to eight recipients this year with a 4.0 GPA. These outstanding student athletes were each presented with a custom Kamui award along with a sponsorship package from Kamui. This year’s recipients were: Serena Black, Joey Bourgeois, Jr., Michelle Jiang, April Larson, Vivian Liu, Andy Poutry, Katlin Schilling and Evan Swett.
Staff and volunteers: tournament director Earl Munson; tournament & event assistant Tammy Jo Leonard and husband Mel; National Head Referee Rick Doner and National Referee John Taylor. Additional support from: Gina Sinlao, Irene Bautista, “Dr. Cue” Tom Rossman, Allison Fisher, Marc Vidal, Jerry Tarantola, Jason Secor, Ross Smith and Tim Chin.
Photos Courtesy of JP Parmentier & Billiard Education Foundation
Any young players interested in participating in next year’s BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championships or State Championships should visit the BEF website at BilliardEducation.org or call the office at (303) 926-1039.