34th Annual Wheelchair Softball National Championship Print
Written by Peter Quartuccio   



Nebraska Continues Their Wheelchair Softball Dominance, Winning Their 4th Consecutive Division I National Championship


FLUSHING, NY—They were challenged early and often, but the Nebraska Barons finished this past Saturday, August 21st where they have the previous 4 years: at the very top.  The Barons were among 14 teams from several states that competed in the 34th Annual National Wheelchair Softball Tournament, a 3-day event that took place at Citifield, home of the New York Mets, who also acted as one of the tournament’s major sponsors.  Nebraska’s squad was a veritable all-star team, with seven of their ten starting players (John Morse, Greg Suing, Paul Krabbenhoft, Doug Bargman, Lance Perez, Brent Rasmussen, and Matt Johnson) being named to the Division I All-Tournament team, and short fielder Johnson winning MVP honors thanks to his clutch play.  With their most recent Championship, Nebraska has solidified its status as a true dynasty in the sport, laying claim to 6 titles in the last 8 years.  While no opponent was a pushover, Nebraska’s two greatest challenges came from Chicago: the RIC Cubs from the Northern Chicago and the Midwest Flyers from the South Side.  Each proved to be worthy adversaries; the Flyers gave what ended up being Nebraska’s sole loss in the tournament, beating the Barons 11-9 in the first day of competition thanks to some late-inning heroics by the Flyers’ Jimmy Jackson.  Nebraska, however, showed the heart and grit of a true champion, bouncing back and winning their final three games—all of which were tightly played and hotly contested—including a rematch win over the Flyers and two consecutive victories against the Cubs on the final day of the tournament to win the Division I National Championship.


            In Division II, the Rolling Red Sox took home the Championship, going undefeated in the Consolation Division bracket.  Like the Barons, they too had a multitude of All-Tournament performers: George Norton, Bill Hannigan, Greg Dutram, Bill Hill, Ron Gendron, and Mac Williams were all named to the Division II All-Tournament squad.  Other Division II standouts included Eddie Jorge and Joe Mendez of the New York Mets, Pat Driver of the North Carolina Tar Wheels, and Nate Miller, Jay Baker, and Nate Hintz of the WPVA Warhawks, the latter of whom received the Division II Most Valuable Player award.  At the post-tournament banquet, several awards were distributed, including two new inductees into the National Wheelchair Softball Association Hall of Fame: Jeff Gustafson of the Courage Rolling Twins and Kurt Smith of the RIC Cubs.  Both Gustafson and Smith have had highly decorated careers, both of whom are Division I National Champions, MVP award winners, and multiple All-Tournament team selections.  Victor Calise richly deserved his George Kiefner Jr. Volunteer Award, as there was nary an activity in which he was not involved, and did everything possible to ensure that all went smoothly.

Thank you to all of the sponsors who made this terrific tournament possible, and congratulations to the Nebraska Barons and Rollin' Red Sox, and to all of the athletes. 

            For more photos  go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/48379941@N06/sets/72157624738166117/ courtesy of Carter Farmer.  

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 September 2010 18:12