Racquetball team dominates doubles brackets at final MACRC Tournament at NC State
In its final preparations for next weekend’s March 15-18 USA Racquetball Collegiate National Championships at Ohio State, Liberty University’s racquetball team traveled to North Carolina State University over this past weekend to compete in the season’s fourth and final MACRC Tournament.
Entering the event, the Flames ranked first in the MACRC regular-season men’s (2,839 points, ahead of UNC Chapel Hill’s 1,824) and combined (3,613) standings (ahead of NC State’s 3,050) and third behind those two schools in the women’s standings.
Playing in NC State’s Carmichael Gym, the Flames and Lady Flames continued to experience success against the rest of the conference competitors, especially on the doubles side of the draw. Graduate Garrison Walker teamed up with senior Trevor Melton to win the men’s doubles Division I bracket while the sophomore sibling duo of Alex and Andrew Bugnacki captured first place in Division II doubles, defeating Liberty’s junior tandem of Luke Hagberg and Timothy Adams in the final.
The doubles success continued in men’s Divisions 3-4, where Nathan Cook joined forces with fellow Flames freshman Matthew Cook to win the Gold division and senior Malachi Aviles teamed with Malcolm Whitfield from an opposing program to place third.
In men’s singles play, using an Olympic format, Melton topped Walker in the Division I final while Alex Bugnacki downed Andrew Bugnacki in the Division 2 Gold final. Adams defeated Hagberg in the Division 2 Blue bracket final and Matthew Cook and Aviles placed first and third, respectively, in Division 3 Gold while Nathan Cook won the Division 3 White bracket.
The Lady Flames also held their own in the women’s doubles draw, with sophomore Paige Jordan and junior Sylvia Growden finishing first and the tandem of sophomore Brandi Gill and freshman Natalie Blank third in Division 3-4. In singles action, Growden won the Division 3-4 Red bracket and Jordan defeated Blank in the third-place final while Gill won the Division 3-4 White championship match.
Head Coach Danny Rodriguez and assistant coaches Herman Lewis and Pamela Passburg will take eight men’s players (Melton, Walker, Adams, Hagberg, Andrew and Nathan Cook, Alex Bugnacki and Aviles), and three women (Growden, Jordan, and Blank) to Columbus, Ohio, where they will compete in a field of approximately 100 players over the last half of their spring break.
“There should be more players there than last year, but still not as many as there used to be,” Rodriguez said, noting that Liberty could make up more than 10 percent of the players.
Then, from April 13-16, the Flames and Lady Flames will host players from around Virginia and North Carolina in the Liberty University James River Open, an annual event in the LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center that serves as one of the team’s major fundraisers. That facility will also host the annual Commonwealth Games racquetball tournament in July. With only four courts available, those tournament fields are capped at 70 players.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video edited by Kylee Lilge/Club Sports Video & Media Coordinator