handball team brings home the hardware from national
REPRESENTING USU: From
left, Kimball Burton, Zach Bateman, Krista Allen, Brady
Adams, Josh Sharp, Jackson Olsen and Ron Bachman. /
Photo courtesy of Jackson Olsen
By Jackson Olsen
Ferbuary 23, 2009 | When Krista Allen began playing
handball last spring, becoming a national champion at
the sport was the last thing on her mind.
Allen, along with the five other members of the USU
handball team, competed in the National Collegiate Handball
Tournament in Minneapolis last weekend, and it was Allen
who brought home the biggest prize of all -- a national
championship in the women's C division.
It was Allen's first trip to a national tournament.
She had competed in two local tournaments prior to this
week (one in Salt Lake City, the other in Pocatello,
Idaho), but had never found her equal in female competitors.
Winning both local tournaments with relative ease, Allen
looked to the national tournament with a combined sense
of opportunity and anxiety. It was here on a national
stage that she hoped to meet her match.
Allen blew through the competition at the national
tournament, defeating opponents from Missouri State,
the University of Florida, San Jose State, the University
of Texas, SUNY-Stony Brook, University of Limerick (Ireland),
and Texas A&M University. In all seven of her matches,
Allen never gave up a game and was never forced into
a tiebreaker. Her closest match was against Bailey Chandler
of Missouri State. Allen won 21-6, 21-2.
"It was our first time going [to the tournament] so
we didn't really know what to expect," Allen said, "but
I ended up doing really well."
The rest of the team didn't cruise to championships,
but still remained competitive and brought home trophies
of silver and bronze from their divisions. Zach Bateman
competed in the men's C division and played in the championship
match. After leading 11-7 in the first game, Bateman
was eventually bested by Kevin Lammi of Lake Forest
College, 21-14, 21-10.
In the men's Challenger division (the division just
below C), Aggies Brady Adams and Josh Sharp both made
it to the semifinals before losing to Chad Bolin and
Simon Hannover of SUNY-Stonybrook and Michigan State,
respectively. After losing his first game 21-14, Sharp
looked like he might make a comeback when he won the
second game 21-17. Sharp dropped the tiebreaker 11-4.
When the dust settled, five of the six Aggies had
won a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Out of the 300
athletes representing 48 schools, the Aggies tallied
620 tournament points, which put them in 14th place
"The results we got out of it demonstrate that they
did exceptionally well," said Ron Bachman, the team's
assistant coach who accompanied the team to the tournament
while head coach Herm Olsen stayed behind in Logan.
"Herm and I are proud papas."
The team will now take a short break before returning
to routine practices. All but one of the team members
will return to USU next year, and all have plans to
compete again in next year's tournament.
The woman who once thought handball was nothing more
than a casual hobby now looks to defend her title at
next year's tournament in College Station, Texas.
Jackson Olsen, left, prepares a return against Marshall
Curtis of Minnesota State University. / Photo by