Wednesday, October 23, 2019

TCL Mansfield Signature Series

When I think of the name Mansfield I think of a small town just south of Shreveport, LA where I was raised. Possibly the most recognizable person from Mansfield is former MLB Pitcher Vida Blue. Some of you youngsters may not be familiar with Vida but trust me, back in the day he could bring it!

Jayne Mansfield was a Motion Picture Actress in the 50's and 60's and I couldn't tell you much about her. Well I could but I choose to just move on to the next

Mansfield, TX is a suburban city not far from Arlington and as far as I'm concerned is most notable for a softball and baseball complex named Big League Dreams. BLD has several MLB replica fields but more importantly it has an indoor soccer pavilion. That is where my interest is because that is the location for this week's TCL's Signature Series Event.

Texas Cornhole League has fired up it's 10th season with many leagues and tournaments already in the books. This weekends event will be the first of four Signature tournaments held throughout the season and this one will be a good one folks!

Many of us took some time off from throwing bags following TCL's 9th Conference/State Tournament this past June in Abilene while others continued to work on their games and attended various events across the state. Each year the TCL experiences tremendous growth with new players catching the fever of the sport of cornhole. With this being the 10th season of cornhole for TCL, it appears to be more of the same with many leagues across Texas welcoming a slew of new players. I used to go to a tournament and feel like I knew most of the people there but not anymore. On top of all the new players, there are several very talented up and comers! One look at the current point standings validates this as there are many new names in the mix.

The usual top players like Brandon Gregor, Eddie Grinderslev, Daniel Vinson, Josh Groce and Stuart Foster, just to name a few will all be in Mansfield gunning for the top prize. There will also be several up and coming players who will have their eyes set on making their presence known. Some of those players are Grant Upchurch, Edgar Cardenas, Kaleb Batson and Blake Holly. All of these guys have been throwing very well and will definitely be forces to be reckoned with this coming weekend. There have also been some impressive performances from the ladies here of late as Jesusa Rodrigues, Brittney Arrington, Amy Valdez and Isabella Surprenant have been on fire. There are others who also are playing really well and I'm certain we will see them this weekend.

There will be many strong Doubles teams present with Groce and Batson, Gregor and Vinson and Grinderslev and Kenneth Johnston who are some of the bluebloods and usually finish near the top. Looking at the results from the State Tourney in June there are several teams who can make some noise including Mark Rubio and Eli Gonzalez and Peyton Welch and Tristan Janca who made great runs in Abilene and will also be tough to beat this week. Earnest Herrera and Grant Upchurch are teaming up for the first time and they will be a hard out for anyone.

There are so many others that have improved so much and will make this event extremely competitive. Each year the depth of talent just gets deeper and deeper and this year is no exception.

Like I mentioned earlier, this weekend will be awesome with many outstanding players in attendance. Safe travels everyone and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Until next time, "throw 'em straight"!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Player Spotlight - Daniel Vinson

When you think of legendary athletes born here in Texas there are a few names that may come to mind. Babe Didrikson Zaharias...wait...who? Sorry, I saw a documentary on her one time and she had some legendary accomplishments including winning two gold medals in the 1932 Olympics. She then went on to win 31 Professional Golf titles. Very impressive! Ok I'll mention some a little more obvious like Nolan Ryan and Earl Campbell. Ryan threw 7 no hitters and amassed 5,714 strikeouts in 27 seasons. That in and of itself is amazing! Campbell affectionately known as "The Tyler Rose" won the Heisman Trophy in 1977 while wearing the Burnt Orange for the University of Texas. Campbell  then went on to lead the NFL in rushing 3 times with the Houston Oilers and twice was named the NFL MVP.

If you have played cornhole the past few years with The Texas Cornhole League, you undoubtedly are aware of the legendary Daniel Vinson. Daniel has quite the impressive resume with TCL winning a State Title in Singles, Doubles and being the Player of the Year. Only one other player has matched that feat in the Open Division and that is Brandon Gregor, a TCL Legend as well. Vinson started his cornhole career at a tournament at O'Sheas and basically hit the floor running. In his very first time to play, O'Sheas had a bonus for making a Big Tex and maybe that bucket of beers was just the motivation Vinson needed! Daniel indeed won a bucket or two and the rest is history as he has been draining 12's ever since.

Before Vinson took up cornhole, he was an accomplished Horseshoe player being ranked as high as 3rd in the state. Daniel pitched shoes for about 15-20 years before changing his arsenal to bags. The 44 year old Kaufman resident has been playing for about 7 years and says one of his favorite memories was playing in his first Ryder Cup. Vinson who was a fairly new player at this time, hit a huge Big Tex to win a critical game to help his team grab second place behind a tough Roanoke squad. The first Ryder Cup that I attended Daniel was on the East Dallas team that won that event and would also add another Cup win this past January.

One of the things that Daniel said he had to overcome early on was his ability to throw airmails with confidence. In watching Vinson the past few years I've noticed he is very methodical in his approach and strategy. He will rarely rush a meaningful shot as he puts a lot of thought and analysis into his process. A calm looking player during the game Daniel doesn't often show emotion but don't let that fool you. He is super competitive and will throw out an occasional fist pump.

Like many of us, Daniel enjoys the camaraderie and hanging with friends during and away from events. He is a fun loving guy that is well liked and respected by his peers. I've seen him helping new players many times including myself when I was a new player. That's just how he is and TCL is very fortunate to have him around.

Best of luck to you Daniel as you continue to etch your name in the TCL history books as a true legend.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Player Spotlight - Stuart Foster

I've been trying to remember the first time I saw or met Stuart Foster and I really can't nail down the exact moment. I'm pretty sure I heard him at my first Signature Event in Mesquite back in late Summer or early Fall of 2015 and I suppose my very first time to actually be around him was that same year when I joined the Forney League at the River Club. I eventually got to know him and man, what a player. Foster, who doesn't lack confidence is one of the top players in TCL and somewhat jokingly proclaims himself as "Number 1 in the world". Stuart is a fun loving guy when off the boards and when playing he would step on your throat in a heartbeat, demonstrating a massive competitive spirit.  A year or so ago several of us went to Las Vegas to play in one of the ACL National Events and all he did was walk through several really good players to make the Main Stage for a live feed. He was smack dab in the middle of his element as Foster lives for the big moments and thrives on playing against top players. Speaking of top players, did I mention that Foster finished this most recent season as TCL's Player of the Year, a feat he has pulled off 2 previous seasons. Next time you see him just call him "Three Time"!

The 42 year old has been playing for 7 years and the fact that he has won Player of the Year 3 of those 7 seasons is pretty awesome. Stuart told me recently that initially the hardest thing for him to overcome playing cornhole was the slide shot. I was a little confused and then he told me he used to throw only airmails which explains how he can be pretty deadly with his airmail game. He added that the Las Vegas experience making it to the Main Stage was probably his favorite cornhole memory. At this event he had been throwing TCL 450's throughout the tournament and had to change when he made the broadcast because both sides weren't the same color. I'm not saying he would've won his match against Ryan Windsor if he had those 450's but I would've loved to have seen him use them.

The Forney, Tx resident says he'd like to improve on his ability to maintain his focus and deal with fatigue better when making late runs in tournaments. I'm not so sure I would want to be someone who has to deal with the wrath of a focused Stuart Foster as he can get hot and when he does, look out. His spirited and animated displays of enthusiasm are sometimes fun to watch. A healthy Foster fist pump after a great shot is a fairly common occurrence when he gets fired up.

Congratulations Stuart on a great season.

Until next time, y'all throw 'em straight!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Player Spotlight - Eddie Grinderslev

When I first started playing in Texas Cornhole League events, I soon became familiar with who the top players were. Mostly by having them crush me but nevertheless, I was finding out who they were. One of the top players that I met was a slender young guy named Eddie Grinderslev.  A few years ago, before each Texas Cornhole League Signature Event everyone had to throw a SCR which included 13 rounds of 4 bags. I got a glimpse of Eddie's score sheet and I was blown away. He had no rounds of less than a 10 and at that point I knew this guy was special.

The 28 year old Grinderslev grew up in Lexington, TX, a small town of around 1200 people just about 50 miles northeast of Austin. One of Lexington's claims to fame could be Snow's BBQ which was tabbed as the best BBQ in Texas by Texas Monthly. After the season that Eddie recently had, I would have to say he could be the most well known person from Lexington! This past season Eddie was named ACL's mid season Rookie of the Year and finished it off as the number 1 ranked ACL player in the nation. That's kind of a Big Deal folks considering he beat out many ACL blue bloods like Cody Henderson, James Baldwin, Frank Modlin and hotshot young guns like Noah Wooten, Matthew Sorrells and fellow Texas Stud Josh Groce.

The Hutto, Tx resident is a 3 time Texas Cornhole League State Singles Champion and says his favorite memory is winning his first title which allowed him to get "over the hump" which he added wasn't easy! By watching him play I can't help but notice how easy he makes it look!

Eddie not only is a superior cornhole player but a top notch person as well. The first time I approached him he was very courteous and took the time to visit with me briefly. The soft spoken Texan is a fierce competitor but off the boards he is as nice as they come. I can't think of anything negative to say about him and I doubt I know anyone who could either.

Congratulations Eddie, you've made Texas and all of us players associated with TCL very proud of you. Best of luck to you Champ as you continue your career!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

2019 TCL Conference Tourney Observations

By now most of us have gathered our senses and caught up on some rest from the Texas Cornhole League's 9th Conference Tournament held recently in Abilene, TX. I am not so sure I can put my old self in that category as I still have lingering issues...I call it my "Cornhole Coma"! There is so much to talk about with this event I'm not so sure I know where I want to begin. I suppose I can start with Friday which had the Singles Events as well as the Women's Doubles. One thing I've noticed the past year or so is just how good everyone has become. Men, Women, it doesn't matter, everyone can flat out play it seems. If you don't throw well, there is a good chance you will be looking for your keys so you can make your way to your truck! In the Open Singles there were some early round upsets including Stuart Foster losing his 3rd round match and John Watson scoring a big 2nd round win over Johnny Seymour. In the Social Singles Chase Jackson the number 1 seed lost his 2nd round match to Sean Weatherford and Phillip Richardson the number 2 seed also lost his 2nd round match. In the Senior Singles the top 4 seeds made it to the winners bracket semis but maybe the most impressive performance may have been the run Dean Parker made. After losing his first round match to Johnny Seymour, Parker made a bag change and proceeded to win 6 straight loser bracket games to reach the finals. Christina Espinosa again won the Women's title beating Debra Odum who threw very well losing only to Espinosa. A couple of other ladies had very good runs as well including Amy Valdez and Leeann Hartline. Valdez in her first state tourney lost in the 3rd round to Debra Odum then won 4 elimination games before losing to Odum in a game that would have put her in the finals had she won. Hartline also lost to Odum early in the winners side then won 5 in a row before losing to Valdez. This was Friday folks!

Saturday was..well, Saturday. I arrived at the venue early to find the parking lot fairly full and I thought it was odd that this many players would be there this early. I soon found out that there were several...I mean several people already dressed in Renaissance type garb and others were getting dressed either in they're vehicles or putting on the final parts of their costumes outside their cars. As I walked towards the front door I saw many others in full blown musketeer outfits and medieval dresses. For a moment I thought I may have been in the wrong building but I eventually made my way to the tournament, without having any run ins with any wooden sword toting dudes or having any Knights wanting me to joust!

Saturday was mostly filled with Doubles Events along with some drop down Singles Events and ending with all the Championship matches. Mark Rubio and Eli Gonzalez had the most impressive run finishing second to Josh Groce and A J Sims in the Open Doubles. They took out several really good teams including Stuart Foster and Joe Arrington, Eddie Grinderslev and Kenneth Johnston and a hot throwing duo of Peyton Welch and Tristan Janca. In the Social Doubles Brittney Arrington and Toni Cranford made it to the winners bracket semi finals before losing to Ernest Monarca and Mitch Ryan. I'd say this would be the best finish for Arrington and Cranford in a TCL Signature Event. In the Open Singles Josh Groce beat Todd Bridgeman to get the win after losing to Bridgeman on Friday. These performances were what I'd say were the top highlights from the weekend.

Abeline provided us with many exciting moments and was once again a great host. I personally enjoyed my weekend getting to see many friends from all across the state and meeting new players as well. This was the end of the 9th TCL season and man it was a good one! Lots of new players stepping up and competing as well as all the top players who continue to get better. Have a good summer everyone and I look forward to seeing you all again soon at the next event!

Throw 'em straight y'all!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

State Championships

Sometimes when I write I like to start out with something informative, clever or maybe even nostalgic. I really just want it to be entertaining and interesting in hopes of having people read more than just the first paragraph! As you can tell by the title of this blog, I'm writing about State Championships. With the Texas Cornhole League's State Tournament in Abilene looming this week, I figure it would be fitting to write about some of my past State Tournament experiences, including my first TCL State Tournament.

Many of you know that for the past few years I've been a regular in the Texas Cornhole scene. I love the game, competing and maybe more than anything, seeing the group of friends that this game has introduced me to. The game provides me with the ability to satisfy my competitive urges that I have in my blood! I've been playing organized sports for around 50 years...yep, I'm not a spring chicken! I started out with little league baseball and was fortunate to be a part of a really good team that included a friend that I still talk with a few times a month. He and I played many various sports together including our first Championship team, a Shreveport City Basketball title in basketball as 6th graders at Atkins Elementary. I scored 1 point all season...and it didn't even count as my foot crossed the line on a free throw. We had a couple of real tall guys, Jimmy Blackwell and Keith Grant and some guys that could handle and shoot the ball well making our team very strong. I got to play late after those guys had built up big leads...mop up duty or whatever you want to call it, I didn't care, I was on the team and we were good!

I went to Woodlawn High School which had a tremendous athletic tradition. In the 60's Terry Bradshaw led the Knights to the State title game losing to Sulphur and couple of years later Joe Ferguson led them to the State Title with a perfect 14-0 season. That same year the basketball team fueled by Melvin Russell won a basketball title. The Track team won the state title that following spring and in 1972 Robert Parish led the Knights to another State basketball title. As a sophomore I watched as our team lost in the state semifinals to Covington High on a last minute interception touchdown return. My senior year I thought we had a chance for a title as our basketball team lost in the State finals and a few months earlier our football team made another run losing in the semifinals. The 70's were filled with many sports memories but most of which were sports I wasn't participating. That would soon change!

In the 80's I played softball and flag football...a lot! I was lucky enough to be a part of a few state title softball teams as well as 3 flag football championship teams. The first is probably my favorite as I finally won one as a player. I remember the long drive home back from south Louisiana and being exhausted but inside I felt so proud. Our team was a close knit bunch of rag tag guys who simply outwilled most of our opponents that weekend.

In 1990 I was a part of a National Championship flag football team that was loaded with talent. I really don't even remember how I got to be on this team but Coach John Lewis gave me a spot on the team as a defensive rusher and I took it! Fun times, fun times.

Fast forward to a few years ago with a body that wouldn't allow me to play softball much less try to run, I bowled some to satisfy my competitive cravings. The beatings my wore out body took from playing sports most of my life were taking it's toll. Everything seemed to hurt so much that I wasn't able to compete like I felt I could. That's where cornhole came into play!

In late 2014 I went to a friend's birthday party where they had some boards set up. I didn't know much about the game but I liked it. A few weeks later I built some boards and started playing some. I found a guy in the Longview area named John Towery, who allowed me to play in his weekly random draw events. After a couple of weeks he asked me if I would want to play in a big event in Dallas called the Ryder Cup. Not sure what I was getting into, I eagerly said yes! Not ever having played in any type of event like this I really didn't know what to expect. Once I was there, I realized very quick that I was a long shot.

That was in January and I knew I wanted to play in more of those type of events against those type of players. I also knew that I wasn't good enough at that point to compete. Mission accepted. I practiced as much as I could and played locally when I could and felt as if I was somewhat ready to give it a try against the best that Texas had to offer. Being a new player I didn't really get to play against the best and that was a good thing at that point! I did however play in the Social Division winning a State Title in Doubles and it was on baby! Now I wanted to get even better and play more which I did. Starting that next season as a "newby" I played in the Open Division at my first Signature event in Mesquite. I won a game or two until being matched up with a guy I knew was really good. I really didn't even know him or why I thought he was good other than he was wearing one of those jerseys and when I watched him throw, his bags kept going in the hole! I lost that game to Jason Andrews by 21-12 or something like that but I can remember being very nervous. The next event I attended was the Houston Signature where I felt deja vu. I won a game or two then played Adam Utz who beat me but again, I was super nervous. I came home that weekend and told my wife, Betty that I had to try to do something to get over my nerves. I figured I had to play more and against the better players. I joined the Forney League and each week I went up against guys like Stuart Foster, Daniel Vinson, Jason Andrews and Joe Arrington. I got crushed… a lot...but I was getting better at tuning out my nerves. I still couldn't beat those guys but it wasn't because I was nervous, I just wasn't good enough. I had more work to do!

Fast forward to now as the State Tournament is upon us and I still can't beat most of those guys but now I can score a few here and there!

This State Tournament is loaded...I mean loaded with talent. The field is as deep with good players as I've ever seen. Let me see...Josh Groce, Eddie Grinderslev, Stuart Foster, Daniel Vinson, Todd Bridgeman, A J Sims, Brandon Gregor, Eric Weathers, Christina Esopinosa, Jason Andrews, J C Nekuza, Adam Utz, Chad Jacobson, Justin Fowler, Joe Arrington...whew. Then we have guys like Earnest Herrera, Greg Kilmer, Mark Rubio, Mark Bitner, Nik Gemmiti, Kenneth Wright, Justin Gore, Justin Bennett, Justin Winschel, Nick Knabe, Jeremy O'Connell, Steve Stowe, Dallas Berthuime, Buddy Gotee...I mean Beaird, Frank Stockton, J D Thompson...the stinking list goes on and on with people that are really good!

That's not including the Senior's with guys like Tom Allen, Steve Wendling and Ken Wright. The Women's field will be super competitive as well with Espinosa, Betty Seymour, Jennifer Young, Trista Zonker, Veronica Vinson, Allison Appleton, Taylor De Leon, Amy Sledge, Ashley Conway...easy Rogge...Brittney Arrington, Amber Groce, Tracey Chamberlain and Caroline Johnston. This will be fun to watch!

All the years of playing sports has allowed me to compete but it has also introduced me to many wonderful people, some who have become life long friends that I consider family. I look forward to every event as I get to see my TCL family!

If you like competition, and I do, then you will love this year's State Championship in Abeline. It's going to be a great time and like many of us, we are on a mission to grab the title and hoist the hardware proclaiming ourselves as State Champions!!

Good luck everyone and be safe in your travels.

Sunday, June 9, 2019


 A few short years ago I attended my first TCL event which was the Ryder Cup. I was blown away by not only how good everyone was at playing the game but also at how smooth the event was being ran. People behind the score table were super busy calling out matches, tending to people who were reporting results and various other things that I really didn't understand. Organized chaos was a thought that came to mind and I realized that it must take great effort to run these things and especially large events like the Signature Series and State Events. Someone was responsible for coordinating it all including setting up all the boards and score towers and all the electrical equipment. Then there was the registration process which took time and effort keeping up with who all had signed up and paid. Entering all the names of the players and getting the brackets ready was another daunting task. The easy part, if any, may have been calling out the matches and after I had the opportunity to run some events, I realized that wasn't a cake walk either! What I'm getting at folks is the Texas Cornhole League has a lot of people who do a ton of work to allow us the chance to play this game. They do it so well it seems as if it magically just... happens! These people are what TCL calls Regional Directors and they are the backbone along with Chad Jacobson, Jason Andrews, Justin Fowler, Adam Utz and J D Thompson. They are simply put, awesome. Id like to mention them and hopefully I won't leave any of them out.

When I initially considered doing a blog about all the directors I intended to write a sentence or two about all of them, however, I got a list and realized it may be a short book! Instead I will mention as many as I can and may share a brief story on a few.

Out in West Texas we have Anthony Elliott leading the growth in the Abilene area. Southeast Oklahoma is led by Jason Gambill and Allison Appleton is the Director for the Midwest Oklahoma Baggers while Adam Acton runs the Oklahoma City Region. Anthony is a new Director and I look forward to seeing him in a week or so! Adam, Allison and Jason have done a great job growing the sport in Oklahoma and I hope to be able to attend some of their events soon, also.

Rob Mikalonis heads up the Alamo City Region, Eric Weathers is the 979 Director and in Austin Chase Hunter runs the Austin Airmail Region. These guys have done great work in these Regions and I've enjoyed playing in their events.

Jeff Robinson heads up the Midlothian Region and James Sledge is the 35/45 Director. I've played in several of their events and they do a great job.

J D Thompson when he isn't helping TCL with the Signature Events and keeping up with points and leagues this guy is amazing, he also runs C4C in the Mansfield area. J D has ran several events at Mansfield's Field of Dreams and as a veteran of TCL, he simply is one of the best!

Fort Worth is ran by Chad Jacobson including a massive league at the Mule Barn. Chad. Does. A. Lot. Chad gets help from Adam Utz and these guys are huge with all the things they do for us regarding leagues, Tournaments, equipment sales and basically all things TCL!

Rolando Rios and John Henderson lead RoRo's Cornhole Express out of Johnson County and Ray Roberts Region respectively. I haven't had the privilege of playing in any of their events but both of these guys are top notch men and I'm certain they do great work.

Nick Knabe is the Denton Region Director and Nick is always helping out and a seemingly tireless worker who not only creates awesome barn doors and such, but has put on a couple of awesome Big Money events. North Texas Region is run by Taylor Stone and I've enjoy playing in his events which are always well ran.

Rob Ochoa leads the Dallas Region while veteran Jason Andrews heads up the East Dallas Region. Jason is highly involved in everything regarding TCL including running the Forney League and tournaments in the East Dallas area.

East Texas Region is led by Holly Saxon and Craig Conser runs Rose City Cornhole. In their first year of being Directors, these two have done fantastic work growing cornhole here in East Texas. They ran several events including multiple leagues this year and are always doing what they can to provide a fun, successful experience for everyone.

I think this is all of them! Big respect to all of them and all they do and the next time you see them, give them a handshake or a hug and tell them thanks, they deserve it!

Till next time, throw em' straight y'all!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Denton Signature Series Recap

Each year the Texas Cornhole League puts on 6 major events. The Ryder Cup, the State/Conference Tournament and 4 Signature Series Events. This past Friday and Saturday TCL hosted the seasons forth and final Signature Series Event in Denton, Tx at the Denton Convention Center. I feel safe in saying that everyone thought highly of this venue. I mean, free beer during happy hour, who does that!! The food that I ate was good and affordable and the beer must have been good as I heard they sold out of Coors Light!

Things got rolling Friday with the Singles Events highlighted by the Open division. Veteran Steve Vanderver who has played many big events showed his worth as he got past Mark Bitner to claim the win. Bitner won his first 7 games to gain a seat in the finals and was throwing darts all night. Vandever lost in the winners bracket semis to a white hot Tom Allen before rattling off several wins to get back to the finals. Vandever wouldn't be denied as he double-dipped Bitner in a couple of well played games. Chad Jacobson threw well all night and was able to nab a 3rd place finish while Johnny Seymour placed 4th.  

In the Tier 1 drop down Singles Greg Kilmer defeated Justin Winschel for the win while Earnest Herrera and Grant Upchurch finished 3rd and 4th respectively.

The Tier 2 Singles had Casey Young delivering more than bread as he defeated Ryan Littlejohn to grab some 1st place hardware. Jonathon Perez came in 3rd and Matt Martinez came in 4th.

In the Social Singles Josh Heilman went undefeated beating Earnest Monarca to grab the win. Monarca lost in the 3rd round of the winners bracket then reeled off an impressive 9 straight wins to get back to the finals. Chase Jackson finished 3rd while Jason Newport came in 4th. Randy Fowler defeated Cory Clower to win the Backyard Singles with Troy Slover and Dakota King finishing 3rd and 4th.

Open Doubles gave us more Vanderver...well ya see, Steve teamed up with his wife Jenn and came away with the win defeating Chad Jacobson and Daniel Vinson to complete a weekend sweep for Steve. Jason Andrews teamed up with JC Nekuza to finish 3rd and Stuart Foster and Joe Arrington ended up in 4th.

Tier 1 Doubles was won by Dallas Berthiaume and Grant Upchurch as they defeated Nick Knabe and Dan Rogge. The Cornhole Killaz also known as Jason Robertson and Roel Salinas came in 3rd and Tristan Janca and Peyton Welch finished in 4th.

Tier 2 had Donnie Marshall and Mark Cordes winning as they beat Tyler Weaver and Steve Sheffield for the win. Rolando Rios and John Brady won 3rd and David Robinson and Brian Cranford slid  in to finish 4th.

Social Doubles was won by Sean McManus and Anthony Long as they got past Sean Weatherford and Jeff Hughes. Finishing 3rd was Steven Youngblood and Troy Slover while 4th place was won by Randy Fowler and David Cavins.

The Backyard Doubles had Clayton Brewer and Brittney Arrington taking home the win as they beat Lane McManus and Travis Sutton. Zach Williams and Brad Hughes came in 3rd and Anthony Hudson and Jim Hughes finished 4th.

Overall I'd have to say this was a great weekend of cornhole. Great venue, great games and great people. Speaking of great people, the folks that put this event on need to be mentioned. Chad Jacobson, Jason Andrews, Justin Fowler, Adam Utz and J D guys are amazing. Most people don't realize what all it takes to put on an event like this but I do. I know there are gazillions of hours that go into planning and organizing a tournament this size and for it go off without a hitch is a testament to your value. It is appreciated tremendously. Also, we thank your wives and families who allow you guys to put forth the time and effort to make these events happen for all of us.

Next up will be the State/Conference Event next month. See Y'all in Abeline!!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

TCL Points Race 2019

Recently the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby was won by Maximum Security...ahem, no wait, actually the official winner was a 65.1 long shot named Country House. The 3 year old Chestnut was determined the winner because of an "Objection" that occurred as a group of horses making a dash to the final stretch kinda got "out of whack" so to speak. Race Stewards, who we frequently consider them Officials or Umps, or Refs or Blue...anyway,  the officials claimed Maximum Security obstructed some horses or something like that by basically impeding the route another horse was wanting to travel. See, out of whack. Exciting nevertheless and that brings me to the TCL Race for the Top 60!      

The 2018-19 Texas Cornhole League Season 9 is thundering down the stretch with many players jockeying for position. As is the case in most seasons, there is typically a good amount of movement as many players are chasing points with the Top 60 being their primary goal. Every year finishing in the Top 60 is one of the most sought after achievements and with it comes a cool jersey and an invite to the end of season Top 60 Tournament. Some of the top players are battling it out with hopes of finishing first in points and being able to proclaim themselves the 2018-2019 TCL Player of the Year. With the 4th Signature event and the State tournament looming, points and where you rank can be critical since this is where the seedings are determined for these events. 

As of April 26 the most current points rankings are basically a "who's who" of TCL players. Stuart Foster certainly isn't a stranger at the top of the rankings and leads everyone with 3803.0 points. Foster has had another great year with a near perfect Regional card and very good finishes in the previous 3 Signature Events. Eddie Grinderslev is right behind Foster with 3686.7 points and may need some help in order to make any positive movement. Todd Bridgeman, the current TCL Player of the Year is 3rd and has posted top 5 finishes in the previous 3 Signature Events but hasn't finished with a full Regional card. Brandon Gregor, a former Player of the Year and State Champion is in 4th with 3604.7. BG has a decent Regional Card but not as good as he would prefer with two 2nd place Regional Singles finishes and 2 Doubles wins. The previous 3 players, Grinderslev, Bridgeman and Gregor will miss the last Signature event in Denton due to the ACL Tournament in Arizona, giving others a chance to slide ahead of them. Johnny Seymour who has a near perfect Regional Card is in 5th with 3550.0 and will need to do well in Denton to increase his position. Daniel Vinson is in 6th with 3465.0 and seems to be on a mission here of late. He has added a second league win and a couple of Regional Doubles to his card and with a strong Singles finish in Denton he could make a considerable jump. Josh Groce is in 7th with 3450.0 points boasting strong Signature finishes to date but not as many Regional wins on this year's card. Christina Espinosa is in 8th with 3440.0 and once again leads all the ladies. Adam Utz comes in 9th at 3410.0 sporting a good Regional Card and will be looking for good finishes in Denton. Jason Andrews with 3400.0 points rounds out the top 10 and has a good shot at moving up with a good weekend in Denton.

There have been a slew of tournaments the past few weeks giving players several opportunities to grab wins and those all important points! Many players are trying to improve and maintain their ranks and the movement will be crazy. As I scan the Top 60 and beyond, it will be very interesting to see who can sneak in with late season charges. Even as I'm writing this the standings have changed considerably and just like the announcer at the Kentucky Derby bellowed..."And down the stretch they come"! 

Stay tuned y'all, this finish will be a good one.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

St. Louis National Recap

In my last post I mentioned a few things that I experienced while attending the National event in St. Louis. Something that stood out while I watched the end of the Advanced Singles tournament, was simply how tired everyone was. With the walking from hotel to the event location, playing games and watching others play after a while we just wear down. Similar to a Signature event with TCL, playing multiple events over a couple of days takes it's toll and you simply can't avoid the "fatigue factor".  It's a grind and speaking of grind, aren't those the first five letters in the name Grinderslev?

Watching Eddie Grinderslev finish 3rd overall in the Advanced Singles Division was tiring in itself for me, I can imagine that he was worn out as well. Eddie won his Bracket playing several games. I tried to count looking at his bracket but I wasn't sure if he played 10 or 11 games before advancing to the final 4. Along the way he beat some very heavy hitters including fellow Texan Josh Groce. Eddie also disposed of 2018 ACL Player of the Year Cody Henderson, Robert Guthary, Isidro Herrera, Ashton Speas and Leston Allen. Grinderslev then lost to one of the young hot shots Trey Burchfield who eventually lost to Ryan Windsor in the finals.

Many of the Texas players hung around and watched Eddie and lend support to him which seemed to energize him, especially in critical moments. It was one of my favorite parts of the weekend seeing players from different areas of Texas come together to support one of our own. It was special.

Since I've been a part of TCL, Eddie has always been one of the top players but the roll that he is on right now sure makes him look a little harder to beat. He is throwing the Player Advantage Reynolds bags and throwing the mess out of them! At the time of this post he not only is the number 1 player in Texas Cornhole League, he is also the number 1 ranked player in ACL. That's pretty impressive folks!

Additional results of players from Texas include Josh Groce and A J Sims both with 9th place finishes in their brackets. Eric Weathers with his team of Josh Groce, Eddie Grinderslev and Brandon Gregor finished 7th in their crew cup bracket. In Womens Doubles, Christina Espinosa and Betty Seymour grabbed a 5th place finish in their bracket. In Senior Doubles Steve Wendling and Johnny Seymour finished 4th losing twice to the eventual champs. Eddie drew Ryan Windsor in the Advanced Blind Draw and defeated James Baldwin and Noah Wooten in the finals. In that same event, Stuart Foster teamed up with Lester Price to finish 3rd in their bracket. Eric Weathers and Sebastion Schafferford came in 5th in their bracket and A J Sims and Phillip Hayden came in 9th. Christina and Colby Usry also finished 9th in their bracket. In Pro Doubles, Josh and Eric ended up 2nd in their bracket while Eddie and BG finished 4th in theirs. In Advanced Doubles, Eddie and BG came in 3rd in their bracket, Josh and Eric 4th, Nik Gemmiti and AJ 5th and Daniel Vinson and Stuart finished 7th in their bracket. Competitive Singles had Mark Rubio finishing 5th and Eli Gonzales coming in 9th in their brackets. In the 2nd Chance Blind Draw, Foster grabbed the win with Louis Dugas while Christina finished 5th with Anne Vogel.

With so many great players at these type of tournaments, finishes like these are quite remarkable. Needless to say Texas is catching up with the rest of the country and before long you will be seeing some of these players on the big screen! Congratulations everyone, way to grind!

Until next time, throw em straight y'all!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Things I learned in St. Louis

There is a saying..."I never lose. I either win or I learn". Not that I don't mind learning, but I really like winning! This past weekend in St. Louis, I was pretty realistic with my chances of winning which allowed many learning opportunities. Here are a few things I learned.

The nations top players are really good. If you play them and throw 10's, you will lose...slowly. They just seem to put the bag in the hole more often than not.

There are a lot of young players in this sport. I know a large majority of players are younger than me so I may need to explain myself! When I say young, I mean in their 20's...and they all can play...very well! I must mention that the team that won the Pro Doubles just happen to be in their 50's...touche!

The arch in St. Louis is really tall. Busch Stadium is impressive, even when closed. Many of the buildings we saw have a lot of cool architectural design and character... that's a mouth full. Speaking of mouth full, Sauce on the Side serves up some really tasty Calzones. The barbque that we ate was good. Not Texas good, but good. Having a Starbucks less than 100 yards from the venue is awesome, if you like coffee. Some Uber drivers are informative, some are not. Medi, from Frankfurt, may very well be my all time favorite waitress.

I like how Texas Cornhole League separates players by tier ranking. Seeing players throw 12's and 10's on a regular basis is what I expect in the Advanced Division...not the Social Division.

Eddie Grinderslev isn't human. Neither is Ryan Windsor, or any other players at their level. These guys threw so many bags in the hole I nearly fell asleep watching some of their games. Not really but when you see so many bags fall in the hole over and over, it kinda gets a little boring.

Playing cornhole against different players from all over the country is fun. Most of the players I played against were pleasant and the top players that I spoke with were cool. Most were willing to chat and if you didn't already know, Jay Dotson is a hoot.

Not the best idea to watch a 2 hour movie on a 1 hour 20 minute flight. Thanks Todd Bridgeman for the movie suggestion. I. Can't. Get. That. Song. Out. Of. My. Head!!

I learned that TCL has some really fast boards compared to boards we played on in St. Louis. Now I know why we see a lot of the players throwing slick side.

I consider St. Louis a learning experience and I'm not sure what type of grade I earned but I do feel that I did not fail.

Till next time, throw 'em straight y'all!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Houston Signature Open Division Recap

Well folks I must offer an apology for the delay in getting this recap completed. You see, after almost every Signature event, I seem to come down with a serious case of Cotardimus Delusiotisis. Well not really, I just kinda made that up but I did have a serious case of TCL Cornhole Coma! Being a older player, I just don't recover like I used to and it doesn't help allergy issues kicked in while I was in Houston. Nevertheless, here is the recap for the Houston Signature Series Open Division.

Starting off with the Open Singles, I must say that this was one of the most talented and decorated fields I have seen in recent years. Eddie Grinderslev, a multiple time TCL State Champ was in one of his zones as he went undefeated including a big win over Jamie Graham in the finals. Grinderslev, the soft spoken Austin resident rarely missed and seemed to have an answer for every challenge he faced. Graham, one of the nations top players and former King of Cornhole, put on quite a show himself making many clutch shots. Noah Wooten, the young gun from Georgia who wowed the crowd with some outstanding bags, finished third just ahead of A J Sims. Josh Groce and Brandon Gregor tied for 5th while Daniel Vinson and Mo Rhadbane tied for 7th. Placing 9th were the group of Ernest Herrera, Shawn Anderson, Chris Paul and Johnny Seymour.

In the Tier 1 drop down bracket, crowd favorite Dan Rogge outlasted Greg Kilmer for the win while Kenneth Wright placed third. James Sledge beat Chase Hunter to win the Tier 2 Division with Tyler Weaver finishing third.

The Open Doubles final matched Jamie Graham and Noah Wootan against Josh Groce and Eric Weathers in a battle of titans. Graham and Wooten are arguably two of the top players in the country while Groce and Weathers have been two of the best in Texas the past year and a half. Jamie and Noah came out blazing in winning the best of three match in two games to win the championship. Josh and Eric unfortunately were a little off this match and gave Jamie and Noah too many scoring opportunities. Possibly the weekends biggest surprise was Todd Bridgeman and Justin Bennett getting hot after a bag change to take third. Bennett who had been struggling, changed bags and found his stroke allowing he and Bridgeman to win 8 straight games in the losers bracket to narrowly miss playing in the finals. Eddie Grinderslev and Kenneth Johnston placed forth while Daniel Vinson and Johnny Seymour tied with Stuart Foster and Christina Espinosa for fifth. Another surprise in the Open Doubles was the disappointing finish for Chris Paul and Travis Welch. These two were expected to make a run at this event however a first round loss put them in the losers bracket and they never recovered.

In the Tier One Doubles, Mark Rubio and Eli Gonzales defeated Darren Bell and Celeste Ibanez to grab the win while Cory Gann and Taylor Wayne placed third. Tier Two Doubles was won by Casey Young and Kirk Martin as they defeated Tyler Weaver and Jonathon Perez. John Watson and Chuck Coia finished third.

It was a long and exhausting tournament but man it was fun! We saw some great games with a great display of talent from all divisions. I must thank and mention those who helped put this event on. Chad Jacobson, Jason Andrews and Justin Fowler spent many hours prior to this tourney to organize and plan everything out and they did a remarkable job. J D Thompson. This guy was awesome. Running a bracket for one tournament can be challenging especially with this many participants but he ran several, multitasking like a champ. Well done sir! Thanks to all of these guys and thanks to all who played and supported everyone and I looked forward to seeing everyone in Denton!

Let 'em fly y'all!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Texas Cornhole League Houston Signature Recap - Social Division

Ricky Henderson is considered by most to be baseballs greatest leadoff hitter. Some of his numbers include a .400 or better on base percentage in 16 different seasons as well as having 7 seasons of over 100 walks. Back in the Babe Ruth era, Earle Combs was also considered one of the best, doing so on several World Series teams. These are just a couple of many who are what baseball heads call "table setters". Getting on base and "setting the table" for the third and forth batters in the lineup to "knock em' in"!

This past Friday a video was shared by Dan Rogge which was simply called "The Poachers" It basically showed Chad Jacobson's reaction to finding out the Poachers were coming to Houston. It. Was. Epic. It also "set the table" for what would become a great weekend of TCL Cornhole!

Friday evening the Social Singles led off and it didn't take long for everyone to take notice...these folks can play! I had mentioned that I didn't know all of the social players and there would be someone that I failed to mention who would step up. Justin Ordonne from South Louisiana rolled all the way to the winners bracket finals where he defeated John Edwards. Edwards then had to face a red hot Ryan Littlejohn who had lost to Ordonne earlier in the winners bracket quarterfinals. Littlejohn won several elimination games including the game with Edwards setting up a rematch with Ordonne. Littlejohn blistered Ordonne in the first game forcing a sudden death game to determine the champion. In the final game Ordonne regained his touch and won 21-9 to win the TCL Houston Signature Social Singles title. Ricky Fowler placed 4th, Justin Manley and Travis Dungan tied for 5th. Allen Thorne and Gina Pruski tied for 7th while John Brady, Brian Probst, Dakota Crawford and Julian Portilla all tied for 9th.

In the Backyard Singles, Phillip Richardson bested fellow East Texan Cory Clower to win his first TCL Singles title. Tracey Chamberlain finished third followed by Jeff Black, Johnny Ordonne and Kristen Talkington. Other Top finishers include Brittany Arrington, Brady Forshey tied for 7th, Trel Jones, Toni Cranford, Ashley Conway and Patrick Crook all tied for 9th.

Saturday some familiar faces were in the hunt as Justin Ordonne and John Edwards who battled in Singles, were at it again in the Social Doubles finals. Ordonne who teamed up with his father Johnny were undefeated and in the finals facing Edwards and Tracey Chamberlain. Edwards and Chamberlain having previously lost to the Ordonnes in the winners bracket semifinals, battled back through the losers bracket securing a win against Daniel Kline and David Collins to set up a rematch with the Ordonnes. When the dust settled, Justin and Johnny were the champs as they held off a strong effort from John and Tracey. This gave Justin a Houston sweep as he also won the Social Singles title. Clint Tacker and Steve Fergia defeated Mark Mann and Jacob Mann to win the Backyard doubles with Keenan Steele and Rob Beard finishing third.

There were many exciting and highly contested matches in the Social division and this only leads me to think that some of these players may be looking join the Open division soon!

My next blog I will highlight the Open Division results from Houston.

Till next time, Throw em straight yall!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

TCL Houston Signature Series Open Preview

As I continue my preview of the Texas Cornhole Leagues Houston Signature event, this story will focus on the Open Division.

With a depth of up to more than 200 feet, Lake Travis is one of the deepest lakes in Texas. Pecos, Tx is the home of one of the deepest oil wells at over 29,000 feet. Everyone knows that Blue Bell Ice Cream is made right here, "Deep in the Heart of Texas, and that my friends is deep!!

So when I mention that the field for Texas Cornhole League's Houston Signature is deep, you may get the idea. This one is deep yall!

Most will agree that Josh Groce, Eric Weathers and Eddie Grinderslev from Central Texas are three of the best there is. Groce and Weathers have been close to dominate in most of the TCL major events the past year and half running roughshod over many of the TCL's finest. Grinderslev too has been one of the most feared players over the past several years with multiple State Titles. All three of these players can without a doubt be strong contenders for this weekends event. Other Central Texas players who have had some success in previous Signature events are AJ Sims and Chris Paul. Both are fully capable of putting folks "in the truck"!

The Dallas Forth Worth area has several strong players as well including current TCL Player of the year Todd Bridgeman. Once the "Rainmaker" gets in his groove, watch out because he can hang with anyone. Stuart Foster, Brandon Gregor and Daniel Vinson all are top players that are all throwing very well right now, just in time for Houston. Foster is having a great season so far and is making a serious push for this seasons Player of the Year. Gregor who is a former State Champion and Player of the Year is always in the mix and regularly makes deep runs in these events. Vinson who also is a former State Champion and Player of the year, is also throwing a good bag here of late and is looking to get back onto the podium. Other DFW players of note who should be considered are Chad Jacobson, Adam Utz and Jason Andrews.

Did I say this field was deep?

Several other players not mentioned earlier that may be considered sleepers are Christina Espinosa, Earnest Herrera, Joe Arrington and Greg Kilmer. All of these are very strong players and have proven there worth in big events.

In Doubles, I'd say the obvious favorites would be Groce and Weathers as they have been so good in these tournaments. However there will be some strong teams that may provide some credible competition, starting off with Stuart Foster and Christina Espinosa. We all know Foster can bring it and Espinosa has big game experience as well. Chad Jacobson and Joe Arrington are teaming up and will try to regain their hot throwing form that won them a State title a couple of years ago. I think we all heard the phrase "Yeah buddy" at least 3 or 4 times!!  Jason Andrews and JC Nekuza have played together in the past and quietly had some success. Some others that may make some noise will be Brandon Gregor and Justin Fowler, Eddie Grinderslev and Kenneth Johnston, Adam Utz and Nik Gemmiti, AJ Sims and Tristan Janca as well as Shawn Anderson and James Jackson. Anderson and Jackson had a very good showing back in December at the Tyler Signature. Oh yea, there is another pair that may have something to say about who reigns and that is none other than Chris Paul and Travis Welch. No typo folks...Travis and Chris are back and boy oh boy look out Irene! These two once dominated TCL as the "Poachers" winning several events in a row. Not the pair you want to draw right out of the gate!

There are a couple of names that are supposed to be making a appearance that you may recognize. Noah Wooten from Georgia is signed up along with Jamie Graham from North Carolina. Both of these guys are big time players and will be another duo you wont want to face early...or late for that matter. Kyle Malone is also signed up to play this weekend and looks to be playing with fellow Floridian Scott Schultz. All of these guys have experience playing on a big stage in national events and will certainly be a strong challenge.

The competition in Houston will be strong and deep...kinda like the pockets of a Texas Oil tycoons pockets!. I look forward to seeing you all and I hope you all have safe travels.

Throw em straight yall!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

TCL Houston Signature Preview

This past October, Texas Cornhole League and a whole bunch of players loaded up and dropped in on Oklahoma for the first Signature event of the 2018-2019 season. It's hard for me to sometimes say Oklahoma without thinking of the late college football broadcaster Keith Jackson. I can still hear him with his trademark "Whooooa Nellie" phrase. Greatness!

Then in December, one of the largest turnouts of players invaded Tyler, TX for the second Signature event. As a sports fan, I often related Tyler as the home of the "Tyler Rose", the great Earl Campbell. His combination of speed and bruising style of running was like none I had ever seen at that time. His demolishing run right smack through a Ram linebacker is a image I always remember. This tournament was one of TCL's best events as far as the number of participants, venue, and competition. One we may always remember!

This week the TCL will be heading to Houston, Tx for it's third Signature event of the season. In 1965 when I was just a youngster, the famous Houston Astrodome was built. A few years later my family made the trip from Shreveport to see a Astro game there. I can still remember Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn, Denis Menke, Jesus Alou and Doug Rader as some of the players I saw that day. To me the whole day was big...the dome seemed huge...the players all seemed big, even though we sat really far away I could tell they were big. And the moment of just being in a atmosphere like that, pretty big for a young fella attending his first MLB game!

With Houston being our nations 4th biggest city, it's only fitting to say that this tourney has the potential to be just as big. The list of players who will be there will be one of TCL's most talented fields. 

Previewing some of the Social players who have stepped up their games recently, It's rather difficult to keep up with all the up and coming players with the major growth this sport has experienced recently. So please understand if I fail to include some of you, I'll get better!

Due to their success at the previous Signature events, many players have moved up and no longer play in the social division. Donnie Greer, David Robinson, Cory Gann, Mark Rubio and Eli Gonzales all who have done well in previous Signature events, are now playing in the Open Division. The list of the players who I think will be competitive in the Social Division in Houston include John Edwards and Tracy Chamberlain who play in the College Station area. Another player from that area, Dakota Crawford who recently won a ACL Regional Singles title will look to contend as well. Others include David Collins from Ft Worth, Gina Pruski from Austin and Brian Probst and Jeremiah Hayes from East Dallas. I'm certain there are others who are capable of making some deep runs through this division and we soon will know who they are! 

Folks, Houston is going to be a good one so go ahead and get your favorite Orville Redenbachers flavor of popcorn ready! My next post will be a preview for the Open Division and I cant wait to put it together!

Till next time, "Throw em straight"!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Some have a nice flat flight and some may be a bit tilted or wobbly. Either way they all have a common destination. Im talking about a cornhole bags folks. This blog that Ive named "As the Bags Fly", will be where I write about Cornhole. More specifically, Cornhole played here in the great state of Texas.

With its tremendous growth the past few years, Cornhole is a game that is sometimes played in parking lots of sporting events by "tailgaters". The game has gotten so big, its now a televised sport with huge purses being paid out to the winners.

Founded in 2009, The Texas Cornhole League has over 1000 players making it one of the nations largest cornhole organizations. Though the majority of players are from Texas, TCL also has players competing from Oklahoma and  Louisiana. Regional tournaments are held frequently all across the state and TCL hosts 4 Signature events throughout the season. These Signature events bring out the states best players and typically have very large payouts.

The next "big" event will be held Feb 22-23 as Houston will be the host city for TCL's 3rd Signature Tournament. There are multiple divisions for all skill levels allowing anyone the opportunity to play.

My next post will be a preview for the Houston Signature and I will talk about some of the top players who will be there. I will also talk about some of the up and coming players from the other divisions.

Thanks for following this blog and I look forward to hearing some of your input!

Throw em Straight Y'all!