November 22-23, 2019
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Handballers from all around Minnesota and the Midwest, including dozens of collegiate players, recently gathered at the U of M's Recreation and Wellness Center for Minnesota's big Fall event. The 2019 Gopher Classic featured some of the region's best talent and best competition. Balance was a major theme, with many close matches and most participants taking part in tidy 8- and 16-player brackets.
This year's pre-Thanksgiving trimdown saw U of M alum Ryan Pesch punctuate his recent domination of the Minnesota handball landscape with the Open title. It was a rematch/repeat of last year's final, with MNSU grad Tyler Stoffel forcing a 2nd annual tie breaker. 2017 Gopher Classic champion Michael Gaulton, battling illness and one of the state's worthiest adversaries in Quinn Foley, was denied advancement from the first round but surfed his own monstrous wave of talent to become the consolation champion. Foley ultimately disproved the fluke, however, taking down Chicago phenom Ray Ure for 3rd place.
Division A was claimed by Mankato statesman John Stoffel, who survived one of the tournament's longest matches in a semifinal against Open entrant and #2 seed Abdul Ghandi (21-20, 21-19). #4 seed Andrew Burkhart upset another Open entrant, Henry Arneson, in the other semifinal. In the end, Stoffel's knowledge of the game and enduring fitness would be too much for Burkhart to match in the championship. Ghandi had just enough left in the tank after the Stoffel semi to squeak by Arneson for 3rd place. Nathan Stoffel was able to claim another championship for the family in the consolation bracket, defeating Joseph Lallier. Upsets would prove crucial, with only the Stoffels, Burkhart, and Ghandi posting victories over higher seeds in this 16-player division.
Fargo natives Adam and Jay Spooner would sweep the B and 60+ divisions, respectively, without dropping a single game. Ed Simonet would fall valiantly to Adam and Brett Broxey to Jay in these championships. 3rd place would go to up-and-comer Antonio Flores in B. Wisconsinite Pete Kaehler won the consolation draw in 60+ and journeyman Tom Ure (Illinois), in one of his six matches, claimed the B consolation title.*
*Only Ure knows which of his finals he wanted more, but he would feel the exhaustion and eventually the sting of defeat against MNSU's Tanner Hadler in the C championship. This entertaining match, decided in a tie breaker, was the last to finish and probably drew the largest crowd in the entire tournament. Earlier that day, MNSU's Andrew Christianson prevailed over the U of M's Jacob Ogden for 3rd place, and the U of M's Matthew Bundy took the consolation championship.
Claiming titles in round-robin divisions were Greg Taylor (70+ singles), Bill Hickey & Mat Langhorst (90+ doubles), and Richard Stevens & David Wells (100+ doubles).
The University of Minnesota Handball Club would like to thank everyone for participating and making this fundraising event an especially fun one. The Club would also like to announce that it will be hosting another Gopher Classic this coming Spring, and hopes the community will be able to support the effort. With the MSHA State Singles Championships moving to the Fall in 2020, the U of M hopes to sustain a Spring singles event for the community and allow the calendar year to close out naturally with the state's biggest event.
Full results can be found at R2Sports: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/divisions/listDivs.asp?TID=31702&display=YES&link=../drawsOut/drawOut.asp
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