Four Columbus teams reach top 10 in billiards tourney

April 10, 2018

COLUMBUS – A total of four Columbus billiards teams placed in the top 10 during the weekend’s Nebraska State Eagle Annual Pool Tournament held at Ag Park.

Among 124 teams that competed, four teams from Columbus – Home 360, Ocean 8, Screaming Eagles and Price Is Right – reigned victoriously. Home 360, led by Craig Whitmore, scored 660 points and landed in fourth place, followed by Ocean 8 in fifth place.

Screaming Eagles led by Kevin Drummond scored 640 points and finished in sixth place. The team has been competing in the tournament since its beginning in the 1980s.

Drummond had to take the backseat this year due to injuries but was able to watch his son, Corey, compete with the team.

In 1oth place was Price Is Right led by Darin Berger with a total of 619 points.

Six other Columbus teams were placed in the top 60, including: The Walking Dead led by Ron Moore. The team scored a total of 551 points and finished 43rd overall.

The team of eight competes in leagues throughout the year and have been playing for approximately 15 years.

“I am excited to play against the other players we don’t see very often that are from all over the state,” said Doug Samuelson, member of The Walking Dead and owner of an Amigos/Kings Classic fast-food chain restaurant in Columbus.

Aside from being able to play pool, the members enjoy the friendships they make during the tournaments each year.

“In a tournament like this, there are a lot of novel players who don’t play that often. They play once a year,” said Scot Rosendahl, member of The Walking Dead. “So a lot of times you get to meet a lot of fun new people. You meet a lot of new friends at this particular tournament. It’s fun, it is a very fun tournament.”

The all-women’s team, Ballbusters, led by Beth Miller, finished 71st with a total score of 499. Members of the team have been competing together for several years and had new team additions this year.

“It’s fun socially,” said Dawn Miller, member of Ballbusters. “It’s fun to be ballbusters. We are super close so friends become family and it is just something we can do together and have fun.”

Ag Park gathered approximately 1,000 players from around Nebraska that included the communities of North Platte, Fremont, McCook, Crete and Omaha. The players have to be members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in order to register for the teams and singles tournament. Admission was $340 per team.

The singles tournament took place at 5 p.m. Friday and consisted of Scotch Doubles and Nine-Ball.

The tournaments are held in different locations every year. Columbus placed a bid in 2016 to host the games and won. The tournament will be held in Hastings next year.

The organization donates the proceeds from the tournament to different state charities each year. The proceeds from this year’s tournament are being donated to breast cancer and autism research centers.

“Our motto of the Eagles’ Club is ‘People Helping People.’ That’s just our nation-wide motto,” said Dennis Micek, co-chairman of the Nebraska State Eagle Annual Pool Tournament. “And we raise money for charities. That’s our goal.”

Doug Wiese and Mike Whiting also served as co-chairman of the annual tournament.

The organization -- all charters -- pledged $25 million nationwide to establish a diabetes research center in Iowa City and succeeded.

“We are hoping someday our name might be associated with the cure of diabetes,” Micek said.

Every state has their own FOE chapter working toward the same goal by hosting tournaments for pool, golf and shuffleboard. Each state chooses its own charity to pledge for.

The president of the National Fraternal of Eagles, Tom McGrath, who is from Florida, attended the tournament as a participant in a team. The tournament began at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday and ran until 5 p.m.

Local businesses were also involved with the tournament. T-shirts were made from a local merchandizer to be sold during the games and a local pool vendor that donated pool sticks to be raffled off.

“The community has just been great,” Micek said. “They love coming out here to Ag Park.”