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Texas Thunder

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Despite some decidedly un-Texan weather the 3rd Annual Texas Thunder tournament went on with minimal disruption February 4-6. San Diego’s Sharp Edge was bemused with the frigid weather while the Denver Harlequins, St Louis Rugby Rams and Michigan Storm mocked how less than an inch of snow managed to shut down Central Texas. The North Texas Cowboys were unable to make it to Austin for the tournament so a variety of at-large teams were compiled to fill in the gaps.
Sharp has been the Division I National Champion two years running and the loss of Ryley Batt and Brent Poppen for the season did not slow them down. Paralympians Sam Gloor and Andy Cohn lead a strong team that came out undefeated through the weekend. Coach Troy McGuirk is out of retirement this season and his many Team Force players in attendance took unseemly glee in chasing him up and down the court. Denver finished second despite some tough play by gold medalists Chance Sumner and Jason Regier.
The hometown Texas Stampede struggled without their Japanese import Shin Nakazato, who was back in Japan for the week at a Japanese National training camp. The Stampede lost by nine points to Denver for a 56-47 finish.
Fourth-place St Louis lost a key player to weather/flight disruptions but featured Kerri Morgan fresh off her gold medal win at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships. Kerri had spent the previous week in Christchurch, New Zealand where she won silver in the 100m, 200m and 400m along with a gold in the 800m. Congratulations, Kerri! Meanwhile, Michigan brought half the players of any other teams but fought hard over the weekend in a near-Ironman. New 2.0 Eric Chase showed some excellent potential and matched up well with veterans Andy Zimmer, Dave Mengyan and Nick Long. Nate Schout rounded out the team.
The barbeque and fajitas of Josh Cogar, Gabe Garcia and Crystal Castillo were greatly enjoyed by all. Portland, take note – your status as the premier tournament location for home-cooked food is being usurped! Bob and John from St David’s used their vacation time to drive everyone around all weekend; you guys rock! The Cedar Park Recreation Center might not have been too enthused with the state of their floors by the end of the tournament but all their staff were hugely helpful and supportive. A giant collective THANK YOU goes out to the above-mentioned as well as Title Sponsor SAIC and other sponsors including C and R Medical, Austin Sports Center (specifically Ryan Brotherton) La Quinta, Holiday Inn Express, Budget and all the volunteers, referees and players who pitched in to make this such a successful weekend. A special shout-out goes to Carolyn Boebinger who somehow managed to pull everything together with style and the patience of a professional coordinator.
Final scores and results:
Sharp v Denver: 59-41
Texas v St Louis: 49-28
Sharp v Michigan: 61-43
Texas v Michigan: 66-40
St Louis v Michigan: 43-41
Denver v Michigan: 59-52
Sharp v St Louis: 67-36
Texas v Denver: 47-56
Sharp v Texas: 57-46 
Denver v St Louis: 47-40
Best Low-Pointer: Jason Regier
Best Mid-Pointer: Andy Cohn
Best High-Pointer: Jeff Odom

MVP: Andy Cohn
Sportsmanship: Emily Shryock

1st: Sharp
2nd: Denver
3rd: Texas
4th: St Louis
5th: Michigan

February 15, 2011 — 8:14am