It was a case of deja-vu at the USABA Southeast Regional Goalball Tournament in Smyrna, Ga., over the June 2-4 weekend as the New Jersey Honeybees and Manticores walked away with the gold medals in the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively. It marked the Honeybees’ second regional title of the year and the third for the Manticores. Twenty teams competed in the three-day event that was hosted by Georgia Blind Sports and streamed on the USABA YouTube channel.
The Honeybees put an exclamation point on their undefeated weekend with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Sirens in the women’s final. Team members for the Honeybees were Brittany Breen (Austin, Texas), Lisa Czechowski (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Amanda Dennis (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Jenna Tiberi (East Brunswick, N.J.). They were coached by USA Goalball Women’s National Team Head Coach Jake Czechowski (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Manticores and New Jersey Honeybees went undefeated on the weekend to earn the gold medals in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively.
The silver-medal-winning Sirens team consisted of Adiana Brennan (Jacksonville, Fla.), Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.), Annika Ottaway-Velder (Brookline, Mass.) and Karen Zabel (Yorktown, Ind.). The Atlanta Blazers defeated the Maryland Minks in the bronze-medal game. The Blazers team was comprised of Sara Folsom (Newnan, Ga.), Kassandra Hernandez (Chester, Pa.), Ali Lawson (Jasper, Ga.) and Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.).
In the men’s final, the Manticores team of John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.), Jordan Main (Austin, Texas) and Josh Welborn (Salt Lake City, Utah) defeated the BSO Jawns by a 9-4 margin to claim the gold medal. The silver-medal-winning Jawns featured Jason Capati (Kenilworth, N.J.), Michael Coughlin (Lansdale, Pa.), Andy Jenks (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Josh Schwartz (Fountainville, Pa.).
The men’s bronze medal game saw the New York Empire top the Texas Rattlesnakes, 7-3. Kelvin Atkinson (Essex, Md.), Jahron Black (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Shaduan Kosh (Essex, Md.), Christopher Loadholt (Bronx, N.Y.), Alphonso McFadden (Bronx, N.Y.) and Manuel Puma (East Elmhurst, N.Y.) made up the Empire roster.
In men’s B Division action, the Atlanta Wolves defeated the Atlanta Renegades in the gold-medal final. The Wolves roster consisted of Matthew Gavin (Savannah, Ga.), Julius Lindsey (Jonesboro, Ga.), Rasheed Manson, Kaijain Sheppard (Decatur, Ga.), Steven Smith (Roswell, Ga.) and Felix Walker (Pooler, Ga.). The silver-medal-winning Renegades were comprised of Rickoy Johnson (Macon, Ga.), Kendall Newson (Columbus, Ga.), Conway Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), Terry Smith (Roswell, Ga.) and Michael Spriggs (Charleston, S.C.).
In the men’s B-Division bronze-medal game, the USA Boys Youth World Team defeated the Pool Team, 10-2. The Boys’ Youth World Team roster consisted of Tristan Brennan (Jacksonville, Fla.), Hussam Itani (Jacksonville, Fla.), Christopher Morgan (Douglasville, Ga.) and Jacob Peterson (Washington, Utah). You can show your support for the USA Boys Youth World Team by contributing to their online fundraiser which helps support their travel to the 2023 IBSA Goalball Youth World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 12-19.
Tournament MVP awards were presented to male and female players who represented sportsmanship, leadership and who made those around them better. The male MVP was Kaijain Sheppard (Decatur, Ga.) of the Atlanta Wolves, while the co-MVPs on the female side were Mindy Cook (Columbus, Ohio) of the Ohio Monarchs and Megan Jenson (Logan, Utah) of Code Blue. Full results from the tournament can be found on GoalballScoreboard.net.
The 2023 USABA Goalball National Championships will take place in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sept. 21-24.