ACUI Nationals 2008 Wrap-Up Article

Daniel Rakin, Redante Rakin and David Allen

The conditions: newly felted AMF 9' tables with electric blue Simonis cloth, Brunswick Centennial billiard balls, Delta 13 customized racks, and a group of enthusiastic college participants prepared to play. In all honesty, this year was hard for me because I was stuck behind the desk running the tournament and not out on the floor competing having competed in the last 5 ACUI Nationals. Despite that, it was refreshing to see both new and familiar faces. A lot of memories were coming back to me and it made me excited for all the ACUI players preparing and vying for a chance at the championship.

The fields consisted of the top women and men in the country who earned their seats qualifying in their region. With 15 regions total, 14 women and 39 men came up on top representing a broad range of universities and traveled to the University of Arizona in Tucson for their attempt to earn the title of ACUI's 2008 National Champion.

The road to the finals was not easy for either division. Milica Kozomara (Northern Illinois University) and Alison Fischer (University of Wisconsin) met in a final race to ten for the women's bracket. Milica suffered a first round loss to Sasha Roberts (University of Texas, Austin) 3-7 then fought her way back on the one-loss side defeating Delia Moccanu (New Mexico Tech) 7-4, Naoko Saiki (Idaho State University) 7-0, Kristin Wilburn (Saint Philips) 7-4, Sasha 7-3, Melanie Weatherford (Virginia Tech) 7-2 and Taryn Capizzano (Sacramento State University) 7-4 to face Alison. Entering the finals undefeated, Alison received a first round bye then faced Stephanie Sevigny (North Dakota State University) 7-2, Sasha Roberts 7-2 and Taryn Capizzano 7-4 to get onto the hot seat.  Milica and Alison played a nerve wrecking match. Both players traded racks back and forth until the score was tied at 5-5. From then on, Milica dominated the match and won the set 10-5.

For the men's division, it was yet another twin final. The ACUI Nationals has a history of twin siblings meeting up in the finals. Redante and Daniel Rakin (California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo) played a race to 13 for first and second. The twins actually met up playing the hot seat match. Daniel came up on top bringing Redante to the one-loss side where he faced David Allen (University of Maryland). David suffered a loss and gave Redante a chance to beat his brother in the finals. The two were ecstatic that they ended up taking first and second, but only one would be given the 1st place trophy.

Daniel remained undefeated through the tournament winning over Darrin Hunter (University of Cincinnati) 9-2, Shintaro Morita (University of Texas, Arlington) 9-2, Lars Vardaman (Southern Illinois University) 9-7 and his brother Redante for the hot seat 9-3. Redante matched up against Nolan Simiano (California State University, Los Angeles) 9-8, Jack Moore (Idaho State University) David Allen (University of Maryland) 9-8, lost to his brother Daniel for the hot seat 3-9 and won against David again 9-4 to earn his place in the championships.  Both have a fairly quick-paced playing style which made their match exciting to watch. The match reached 10-10 when Redante switched gears and took over winning 13-10. “This is my first National win,” exclaimed Redante. He continued stating “I never beat Daniel so this means a lot to me.” His father and sister, Redante Senior and Mary watched and were proud to witness the brothers' accomplishments.

A Best Break competition was held this year too. Each participant was given ten breaks and the number of balls made per break was tallied. The honors were given to Tyra Lalor (Morgan State University) and Justin Cromer (University of Northern Texas). A Best Sportsmanship contest was held as well. This is always a great competition because it is based on peer votes. Ballots are submitted by fellow players mentioning who they feel had the best attitude. After the votes were counted Giovanni Aviles (University Of Illinois, Chicago) and Darrin Hunter (University of Cincinnati) were awarded for being awesome throughout the whole tournament. Congrats to all!

This tournament proved that students participating in the BEF Junior Nationals are able to transition from elementary, intermediate, and high school into college while still participating in a sport they love and want to continue to grow in. Redante and Daniel Rakin, 3-time ACUI National Champion Lars Vardaman, and I are all examples of that having been prior participants in the Junior Nationals and now being involved in the ACUI. I hope the integration of both tournaments continues to be a success in years to come.

I want to thank the ACUI for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the organization even after I've graduated and can no longer compete. It was an honor and a pleasure to be among all of the players and staff. I'd especially like to thank Bill MacKinnon who was the head referee during the ACUI event. I don't think I could it would have run as smoothly without him. I'd also like to thank Betsy Sundholm who was the tournament director a couple years ago who thought of me when this position unexpectedly opened up. I was flattered and accepted because I know how great the organization is and want to see it continue for the college pool players out there. Thanks to all the players for their patience and participation. We had a successful 2008 National event.