Today: Jul 16, 2024

Paintball club places third at Nationals

PAT LONGOBARDI, Sports Writer-

Those who have followed the Southern Paintball Club this season might agree that their story paints a mere image to the movie “Dodgeball: The True Underdog Story.”
“We did not really believe we were going to do as well as we did,” said Southern junior and team president, Eric Sanchez.
Southern finished in third place in Class AA at the College and High School Paintball National Championships, held April 15-17 at Central Florida Paintball in Lakeland, FL.
Southern started with preliminaries on April 16. Their road included wins over Texas A&M, TCU, and University of Wisconsin-Stout. Southern lost to the eventual champions, SUNY Buffalo, in the semifinals. Southern defeated Georgia Tech in the consolation game to get third place.
According to Sanchez, Southern did not perform well in preliminaries, but stepped up their game after that point with aggressive and crazy plays.
“We were lost, distraught and kind of mad,” said Sanchez, the line one captain, referring to preliminaries. “Then, we stepped it up hardcore. For a team that was kind of put together, it is a true underdog story.”
Southern sent eight players to nationals–Sanchez, Michael Wood, Anthony Jordan, Russell Frost, Tyler Smith, Robert Engengro, Greg Iwerks and Kenneth Murphy.
Southern was granted full university recognition status in December 2008.
“We had good strategies, and everybody gave it their all,” said sophomore and team building chair, Robert Engengro. “No one was ready for us to do as good as we did.”
Representing the Northeast Intercollegiate Conference (NEIC), Southern came into nationals ranked No. 16 in the NCPA rankings with 253.03 points overall. Southern’s season ends with the team placing in the top three in each of its competitions. Their finishes included third place at the NEIC 2010 Event One, second place at the NEIC 2010 Event Two–the Josh Stimson Memorial Open, and second place at the NEIC Frost Bowl in Syracuse, NY.
“It is just about trying to get recognition, and getting our name out,” said club member Patrick Cooney.
Cooney, a member of Southern’s line two team, said a lot of supporters drove down to Florida to watch the team compete. He could not go, but said he did watch the matches online.
“We had a great camera guy in Tyler Smith,” he said. “I’m happy for them all and I hope they can do the same next year.”
Southern’s home competitions were located at Hogan’s Alley Paintball in Meriden. Other sponsors for this season included Buffalo Wild Wings in New Haven, Academy Printwear in Hamden and Blake Street Pizza in New Haven.
Sanchez said a turning point of how close the team had become came during the final point against Georgia Tech.
“He [Murphy] came to me in an exhausted voice and said, ‘Put Rob [Engengro] in,’” Sanchez said. “I told him, ‘We need you,’ and I told him to just run when we start the point. He did it nonetheless, and we won because of him.”
“We sent a lot of good teams home crying,” said Engengro. “We were a team to be feared, and now they know it.”
Sanchez said the mentality going into the national championships was just to have fun. After their finish, sponsors were coming up and asking about the team, showing how much the team has grown in just three years.
“We are keeping the same core,” said Sanchez. “We need to develop skills from others. We want to keep the family as long as possible.”

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