Pat Longobardi. Sports Writer:
The Southern Owls Paintball Club has been striving high in this 2011 season, and has become a championship threat with nationals right around the corner.
“We are definitely a team to be feared,” said junior and team president, Eric Sanchez. “Teams go in thinking that they will get destroyed by us.”
Representing the Northeast Intercollegiate Conference (NEIC), Southern is ranked No. 16 in the National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA) rankings, with 253.03 points overall.
Southern’s success¬ful season had the Owls placing in the top three in points on each occasion.
Southern’s finishes includ¬ed third place at the NEIC 2010 Event One, with 74.28 points, and second place at the NEIC 2010 Event Two – the Josh Stim¬son Memorial Open with 88.75 points
Most recently, Southern placed its highest point total of the season with 90 points and a second place finish at the NEIC Frost Bowl on Feb. 19 in Syra¬cuse, NY.
Southern was granted full university recognition status in December 2008. Sanchez was pleased when he said the team’s worst finish this season was no less than third place. Sanchez said the team has grown together from when the club began to ev¬ery tournament that they have competed in this season.
“I feel close to these guys,” said Sanchez.
“It feels good that we are going to nationals. I grew up in my college career. I grew up in competitions.”
Southern paintball wel¬comes all Southern students to come out for the team, with no cuts.
Practices are usually held on Sundays.
“It (making the team) is open call at Hogan’s Alley,” said Southern freshman, Michael Wood.
“We don’t play against you. We just have fun and then we go to Dairy Queen afterwards.”
Southern’s home competi¬tions are located at Hogan’s Al¬ley Paintball in Meriden. Other sponsors for this season includ¬ed Buffalo Wild Wings in New Haven, Academy Printwear in Hamden, and Blake Street Pizza in New Haven.
Wood said he had high in¬terest to come to Southern, and he was interested in paintball even before high school ended.
“I think the team is going in the right way,” he said.
“This team is close. We just chill together and have fun.”
There are currently three paintball teams at Southern, two men’s teams and a new women’s team.
There are two lines for the men, and one for the women. Line one includes seven play¬ers led by captain Eric San¬chez. Line two includes seven players led by captain Craig Desruisseaux.
The female line consists of five players led by captain Jes¬sica Schmidt.
Southern’s men will send eight players to nationals–San¬chez, Wood, Anthony Jordan, Russell Frost, Tyler Smith, Rob¬ert Engengro, Greg Iwerks, and Kenneth Murphy.
The College and High School Paintball National Championships are April 15-17 at Central Florida Paintball in Lakeland, FL.
“We (the team) work with each other to get better and progress,” said Southern sophomore and team building chair, Robert Engengro.
Engengro and Wood both men¬tioned they were recruited by San¬chez during their summers before coming to Southern, to play on the team.
“We picked up a lot of good players like Mike (Wood), and Rob (Engengro),” said Sanchez.
The new paintball campaign be¬gins in August and will be going into their fourth full recognition year.
Sanchez said Southern is show¬ing progress, and is continuously making their presence known on the national circuit.
“We are definitely a force to be reckoned with,” said Engengro.
“I want to give a shout out to the rest of the team and let’s play some paintball.”
Paintball leaving mark across Nation
Pat Longobardi. Sports Writer: