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Force, Monarchs and Renegades win gold at Southeast Qualifier

Posted May 28, 2024  Goalball

Twenty-two teams went head-to-head at the USABA Southeast National Goalball Qualifier, May 24-26, at the Smyrna Community Center in Smyrna, Georgia. The tournament was divided into an eight-team men’s A division, an eight-team men’s B division and a six-team women’s division.

In an exciting women’s final, the Ohio Monarchs edged the Atlanta Blazers, 7-6. The Monarchs roster featured Tokyo 2020 Paralympic teammates Mindy Cook and Eliana Mason. They were joined by Makalia Lama, Yaqi Schumacher and Leah Smeltzer, and coached by Keith Young and James Wallace.

Members of the Ohio Monarchs women's team pose on the court with their trophy and medals.
Ohio Monarchs (l to r) Coach Keith Young, Eliana Mason, Yaqi Schumacher, Makalia Lama, Leah Smeltzer, Mindy Cook and Coach James Wallace.

Playing for the silver medalist Atlanta Blazers were Kassandra Hernandez, Ali Lawson, Ellashae Maddox, Leanne Merren and Asya Miller. The Blazers were coached by tournament director Hal Simpson. The New Jersey Honeybees, coached by Jake Czechowski, took home the women’s bronze medal behind the play of Lisa Czechowski, Jasmine Murrell, Shelley Palmadessa and Jenna Tiberi.

In the men’s A division, the Atlanta Force were the cream of the crop. Paralympic teammates Matt Simpson and Calahan Young provided the squad with veteran leadership and received exceptional play from Christopher Morgan, Brandon Soncoeur and Tito Vega. They were coached by Wellington DeLuna and Hal Simpson.

Members of the Atlanta Force men's team pose on the court with their trophy and medals.
Atlanta Force (l to r) Coach Hal Simpson, Brandon Soncoeur, Calahan Young, Matt Simpson, Christopher Morgan, Tito Vega and Coach Wellington DeLuna.

The Puerto Rico-based Los Gallos performed at a high level throughout the weekend and captured the silver medal. Team members were Fernando Baez, Christian King, Dominic Lugo and Luis Perez. Los Gallos were coached by Roberto DeJesus. Bronze medalist Manticores featured Zach Buhler, Jordan Main and Josh Welborn and were coached by Bailey Buhler.

The thrilling men’s B division final saw the Atlanta Renegades edge Killer Cobras to claim the gold medal. Coached by Nick Reynolds, the Renegades roster consisted of Sidney Banks, Rasheed Manson, Conway Smith, Felix Walker and Rashad Williams.

Members of the Atlanta Renegades men's team pose on the court with their trophy and medals.
Atlanta Renegades (l to r) Coach Nick Reynolds, Sidney Banks, Conway Smith, Rasheed Manson, Felix Walker and Rashad Williams.

The silver medal-winning Killer Cobras were comprised of Junior Ah-Siu, Jacob Kamaunu, Dylan Pleasants, Antonio Rozier and Adam Young and were coached by Ben Mariano. The Atlanta Wolves claimed the men’s B division bronze medal on a last-second goal by Steven Smith. Other members of the Wolves were George Eaker, Matthew Gavin and Kajain Sheppard.

Spirit of the Game awards were given to Eaker and Lawson at the conclusion of the tournament.

The final USABA National Goalball Qualifier will be held in Haddon Township, New Jersey, June 21-23.