Story by KJ Williams, CueSportBilliardAcademy.com
The 2015 Illinois Junior State 9-Ball Championships kicked off on May 23rd at Racks on the Rocks in Peoria, Illinois with a field of 22 players and tournament operator KJ Williams of CueSport Billiard Academy. The largest field was the 18 & Under Boys. The 18 & Under Girls only had 3 entrants, therefore we ran a round-robin tournament with them and also allowed them to buy into and participate in the 18 & Under Boys double elimination bracket. All 3 girls bought their way into both events and definitely got the most bang for their buck all day and night. The 14 & Under Boys division had 4 players in a double elimination bracket. The 14 & Under Girls had 3 players ready to rumble in which were also put into a round-robin tournament format.
18 & Under Boys Division
|1st Place||Josh Franklin, age 17||Creve Coeur, IL||Gold trophy + $50 scholarship + State Title certificate + $40 tourney winnings|
|2nd Place||Tyler Howell, age17||Davenport, IA||Silver trophy + $25 tourney winnings|
|3rd Place||Timmy Bly, age16||Decatur, IL||Bronze medal + $10 tourney winnings + Paid entry to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
|Colton Adams, age16||Cerro Gordo, IL||Invitation to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
|Zachery Johnson, age 16||Mount Zion, IL||Invitation to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
18 & Under Girls Division
|1st Place||Kindra Hurlbert, age18||Northfield, MN
|Gold trophy + $50 scholarship + State Title certificate + $10 tourney winnings + Paid entry to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
|2nd Place||Serena Black, age 16||Decatur, IL||Silver trophy + $5 tourney winnings|
|3rd Place||Katelin Ballou, age15||Granite City, IL||Bronze medal|
14 & Under Boys Division
|1st Place||Brandon Roady, age13||Alton, IL||Gold trophy + $45 scholarship + State Title certificate + $15 tourney winnings + Paid entry to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
|2nd Place||Joshua Goodknight, age 13||Davenport, IA||Silver trophy + $5 tourney winnings + Invitation to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
|3rd Place||JJ Kogel, age 9||Decatur, IL||Bronze medal + Invitation to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
14 & Under Girls Division
|1st Place||Christian Kogel, age 13||Decatur, IL||Gold trophy + $45 scholarship + State Title certificate + $10 tourney winnings + Paid entry to 2015 BEF Jr Natls|
|2nd Place||Jaylen Hentz, age 9||Peoria, IL||Silver trophy + $5 tourney winnings|
|3rd Place||Pia Schoenbein, age 8||Deer Creek, IL||Bronze medal|
The 14 & Under Boys saw Josh Goodknight face off against JJ Kogel, where Josh sent JJ to the left-side. The other half had Brandon Roady battling against Asher Franklin, in which Brandon won and sent Asher to the one loss side. On the left one loss side we had JJ and Asher go back and forth to see who would be going home and ultimately JJ took the match to eliminate Asher from the tournament. Josh and Brandon fought it out in the winner’s side final to see Brandon take the hot seat and wait patiently for his opponent in the final match. Josh then went back to the west side of the bracket on the one loss side to match up with JJ for the 2nd elimination bout. Josh took out JJ and earned another chance at Brandon in the finals. JJ finished the tournament with a beautiful Bronze Medal for 3 place. The final match of the 14 & Under Boys was intense with some excellent runs and strategic safeties and a few rolls back and forth, the in the end Brandon sank the final 9 ball to win the Gold Cup, IL State Title and courtesy shake hands with Josh on an excellent 2nd place Silver Cup finish. Brandon also won a $50 BEF college scholarship and a paid entry in to the 2015 BEF Junior Nationals in Las Vegas during August 4-7th, 2015.
The 14 & Under Girls round robin tournament had each girl playing one another twice and earning 1 point for every game they won to be accumulated at the end for final results of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. After 6 hard fought matches back and forth with every girl winning some matches, Christian Kogel came out with the highest score of 24 points and total games won to take home the Gold Cup and State Championship! Jaylen Hentz placed 2nd and won the Silver Cup with 14 total points and games won. The energetic Pia Schoenbein came in at a very close 3rd place earning herself a shiny Bronze Medal with 12 points and games won. Pia then went on to perform some trick shots setup for her by Master instructor KJ Williams for all of the parents and kids to see. Christian also won herself a paid entry into the 2015 BEF Junior Nationals and $50 scholarship. Jaylen and Pia didn’t receive a paid entry, but they both received official invitations to BEF Junior Nationals as well!
The 18 and Under Girls round robin was very intense with all 3 girls playing one another twice and having some really tough matches. Katelin Ballou and Kindra Hurlbert started off with a really tight hill-hill race to 7 with Kindra sinking the final 9 ball to win 7-6 and serve Katelin her first loss. Katelin played very well, but missed a few 9 balls and completed her run in a hard fought 3rd place Bronze Medal finish! Serena Black also played well winning 2 of her 3 races including the final race between her and Kindra. The only problem was Kindra went into the final match with a score of 21 and Serena had 19 with a race to 7 yet to go. Then the nearly impossible happened when Serena won by exactly 2 games with her 7-5 victory over Kindra and this brought both of their cumulative scores to a dead even 26 points! So, we then had to play a sudden-death tie breaker race to 3 to see who takes home the Gold! This set was all you could ask for in a final set, let alone it being a tie breaker as each girl played well and also traded back and forth some missed opportunities they would’ve made with their eyes closed had there been less pressure. All the while this match is being played on the Live Stream TV table for everyone in the world to see and they both had plenty of friends and family sweating their match both in person and back home! Kindra started out looking like she was going to sweet Serena as she jumped ahead 2-0 going to 3, but then Serena dug deep and showed some real heart while clawing her way back to a dead even hill-hill score of 2-2. The final game was tough as each girl played the layout differently than they had intended, which definitely increased the difficulty and caused shots to be passed back and forth for almost 10 minutes. Finally, the smoke cleared and Kindra managed to run the final few balls to win by a single game in the end with a score of 29 to Serena’s 28. Kindra overcame her 2nd place finish in Indiana with a 1st place title of the BEF 2015 Illinois Junior State 9-Ball Champion! Serena Black had previously finished 1st when she won the Missouri State 18 & Under Girls title only 1 month prior. Kindra finished off the day with a 1st place Gold Cup, $50 BEF scholarship to put towards her schooling at the University of Evansville, Indiana and of course a paid entry to the BEF Junior Nationals. Serena took home a very nice Silver Cup for her 2nd place finish and well fought match of the ages with Kindra!
The 18 & Under Boys event was also an open division in which all 3 of 18 & Under girls also entered to bring the total to a nearly full field of 15 players in a 16 player bracket. There were so many talented young men in the field competing from 5 different states total. Tyler Howell bested Justin Swank to play the winner of Timmy Bly in his match defeating Douglas Tuttle both from the same hometown of Decatur, Illinois. Zach Lafferty then made it past Katelin Ballou to play Mario Mendoza after Mario squeaked by Zach Johnson. Chase Wright fought back and forth to send Colton Adams to the one loss side and play another hometown local of Ian Lucera after Ian sent Serena to the left side of the bracket. At the end of the 1st round, we saw 2 more local Peoria players go head to head with Josh Franklin getting the win over CJ Majors. Kindra Hurlbert drew the only lucky spot in the first round of a Bye and advanced to round 2 without ever having to shoot a ball. It’s always funny when these players travel to great length to meet up in the 1st round with players from their very own hometown that they probably see every other weekend. Tyler Howell and Josh Franklin were the last 2 on the winner side when all of the smoke cleared and patiently waited to play the hot seat match while the rest of the players on the one loss side of the bracket duked it out to stay in the tournament and stave off elimination. Kindra Hurlbert let Zach Lafferty squeak by again with an astonishing 4 hanging 9 balls to finish 5-6th and also as the highest placing female. Timmy Bly eliminated Ian Lucera to advance to the one loss side semi-final with Zach Lafferty to fight for 4th place. Timmy had the momentum and shots falling for him as he sent Zach out in 4th and earned a 2nd chance at Tyler Howell whom beat had sent him to the left side of the bracket in the 2nd round. Tyler hit a gear and once again overcame Timmy’s excellent play and strategic safeties. Tyler was just on fire as he sent Timmy home with a 3rd place Bronze Medal finish and exclusive invitation to the 2015 BEF Junior Nationals. All the while hot seat winner Josh Franklin is warming up on the next table over to prepare for the Final match! In typical fashion, the finals started out with a twist as Tyler jumped up 4-0 on Josh and looked poised to double dip Josh in the true double elimination finals. Then, all of the sudden the momentum shifted once Tyler made a mistake on a routine shot during the 5th game. It was as if Josh had then woken up as he made sure to take advantage of this rare chink in Tyler’s armor when Josh ran rack after rack after rack. Soon enough it was tied at 4-4 with a race to 3 left to decide whether or not Josh would win or Tyler would force a 2nd set to decide the ultimate fate of the tournament. Josh just kept his foot on the gas and allowed Tyler only 1 more game as he almost flawlessly shot his way to a 7-5 win over his very good friend and QC Young Gunz teammate Tyler Howell. Tyler went home with the Silver Cup, Timmy earned a Bronze Medal and both also earned an invite to the Junior Nationals in Vegas. Josh won the Gold Cup trophy, a $50 BEF scholarship and a paid entry to Las Vegas for the 2015 BEF Junior Nationals!
It was a VERY good event all around with lots of fun, everyone making new friends and parents enjoying watching their children enjoy their passion in this wonderful sport of 9 ball billiards! See ya again next year!!!
For more information on sponsoring, hosting, or participating in a Junior State Championship, visit billiardeducation.org or call (303) 926-1039. Complete list of nationwide junior events listed here: http://billiardeducation.org/events/