Springfield, MO, WPH Press, 11/10/19- The 2019 Bear Bash was held on the Dr. Tommy Burnett Courts at the Plaster Sports Stadium on the campus of Missouri State. The 2019 Bear Bash featured 120 men’s and women’s players, with the majority of the players collegiate handball stars from Missouri State, Mankato State, and the University of Texas.
Tournament director and defending champion Sam Esser headlined the Men’s Open field. Esser was joined by collegiate teammate and rival Max Langmack, current collegiate All-American Michael Gaulton, and MO State stars Ross Colyer, Matt Vollink, and Garrett Bacon.
Esser survived two tiebreakers en route to the final, overcoming MO State teammate Matt Vollink in the quarterfinals and R48 #29 Michael Gaulton in the semis.
R48 #25 and Next Gen star Max Langmack was dominant en route to the final, dropping Denny Schmidt and Garrett Bacon in straight sets.
Esser would need another tiebreaker in the final, dropping the first game 21-17, rallying to win the second by the same score, and surviving a thriller in the third to raise the Bear Bash trophy.
“The final was tough all the way through,” stated Langmack. “I controlled the first game but Sam used his back wall in the second to win it. Sam took the lead in the tiebreaker and pushed out to 10. I tried a late run but couldn’t catch up. I played good. I made a few errors and mistakes that he capitalized on and those cost me big today.”
“It was a great match,” stated Esser. “Like most of our matches, it went tiebreaker and came down to the end. We were both shooting the ball well the whole match and in the tiebreaker I was able to convert a few more of my setups than he was and that was probably the difference.”
Esser def Gaulton 14-21, 21-10, 11-3
Langmack def Bacon 21-15, 21-16
Final: Esser def Langmack 17-21, 21-17, 11-8
Women’s Open Singles
The Women’s Open Singles field featured the Taylor Rumping and Kristen Hughes – the best rivalry in women’s collegiate handball, as well as MO State’s Christina Pecaut, Laura Blankenship, and Meghan Mudd.
Rumping had little difficulty advancing to the final in the upper bracket, defeating Blankenship in the upper bracket semifinals, while Hughes was dominant in the bottom bracket, overcoming Pecaut in two games en route to the final.
Rumping dictated play against her collegiate rival in the final, keeping Hughes in the back court and sweeping the Texas star in two games.
“It was a really fun match,” stated Rumping. “Kristen is definitely one of my favorite opponents to play because I know that it’s always going to be a good, competitive match. I thought I played pretty well today! We usually go into a tiebreaker, so it felt good winning in two games.”
Rumping def Blakenship 21-0, 21-11
Hughes def Pecaut 21-16, 21-10
Final: Rumping def Hughes 21-15, 21-15
Follow all of the results from the 2019 Bear Bash HERE
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WPH Senior Writer