Top Honors Earned at the 2023 USAR National High School Championships in Portland, Oregon
by Jonathan Greenberg
KIRKWOOD HIGH SCHOOL and ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL COME OUT ON TOP!
What a week in Portland, Oregon, with an impressive turnout of 231 athletes participating at the USA Racquetball High School Nationals. Sixteen court saw action at the host club Multnomah Athletic Club and at the Lloyd Athletic Club.
Athletes numbering 231 (158 boys and 73 girls) represented a total of 27 schools and 6 states.
Division entries: 31 in one division; 132 in two divisions; 68 in three or more divisions
Congratulations to Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, on bringing home the overall team title -- their 2nd straight.
Additionally, Kirkwood Girls took home the Girls title, their first in school history!
Congratulations to St. Louis University High School (SLUH), St. Louis, Missouri, on bringing home the Boys title for the 16th time in school history!
Overall Team Champions, Kirkwood High School. Photo by Dan Whitley
Click HERE for a full list of team results.
FORMAT AND MEDALS
This event was structured in Olympic Format with four flights in each age group: Gold, Blue, Red & White, thus ensuring that a player typically had a minimum of three matches per division and eventually competed against similarly skilled players during the event. All Divisions received 1st-4th place National Championship medals.
Players competed for Team and individual National Racquetball Championships in Boys, Girls, and Overall Team Competition. Teams consisted of players in 6 singles divisions, 3 doubles divisions for boys, girls, and 3 mixed divisions. Divisions were numbered 1 thru 6 in singles and 1, 2, and 3 in doubles. The top-ranked player on a team was to enter Division #1, the second-ranked player in Division #2, and so on. Division #6 in singles and Division #3 in all doubles events were open to all players not entered in a higher division. No two players from the same school could play in the same division, except Division #6 in singles and Division #3 in all doubles events. If there were fewer than 6 players, boys or girls, on a team, divisions were filled from the top first, that is Division #1 Singles, then Division #2 Singles, and so on.
All singles players were guaranteed 3 matches, including forfeits and byes. All players earned points for their school toward the Team Championships. Players could enter 3 events, however, they had to be separate events, and the 3rd event had to be mixed doubles. Singles divisions used Olympic Format (Gold, plus Blue, Red, and White).
Doubles divisions were single elimination and had only one consolation round. In doubles, just as in singles, the intent was for the best doubles team from each school to enter Division #1, the second-best team to enter Division #2, etc.
- Boys Singles Gold #1: Benjamin Horner (Iowa) earned the Boys champion title; this is the first time a player from Iowa has won a High School National title. Benjamin defeated DJ Mendoza (Texas) in the final.
- Girls Singles Gold #1: Naomi Ros (Texas) repeated as Girls champion. She plays out of Douglas MacArthur High School in San Antonio. George Bustos’s program continues to churn out top junior talent.
- Boys #1 Doubles: Luke Dannegger & Nicholas Heinlein out of St. Louis University High School (Missouri) took the crown, going wire to wire as the #1 seeds.
- Girls #1 Doubles: Avery Oppermann & Gabbie Roseman (Kirkwood High School – Missouri) also captured the crown as the #1 seed, continuing St. Louis' dominance.
- Mixed #1 Doubles was taken by Naomi Ros & DJ Mendoza (Douglas MacArthur High School, San Antonio, Texas) giving Ros the weekend double.
Congrats to all the teams and to their athletes and coaches! For a complete look at the results and brackets, go to https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/viewResults.asp?TID=40258
Congratulations to all of the players who attained All-American status at these Championships! Check out the list in this, the 35th year, of High School Nationals competition! https://www.mohsrball.com/all-american-teams
COACH OF THE YEAR
Congratulations to Eric Nelson who was named Coach of the Year at the awards ceremony on the last day of the tournament! Eric has been coaching for 8 years at Sprague High School in Salem, Oregon. USA Racquetball was proud to help recognize this deserving coach!
GearBox (Official Racquet of USAR)
THANKS TO THE HEROES BEHIND THE SCENES!
As we all know, it takes a village, and those who pitched in to make this a very special event for the players numbered in the hundreds. Every single hero, whether identified by name or not, is deeply appreciated for their support. You know who you are!
• Lily Caldwell
• Karen Grisz
• Mike Grisz
• Hank Marcus
• Dylan Shoemaker
• Jeffrey Thompson (JT Rball)
• Jazmin Trevino
• Enrique Villaseñor
• Dan Whitley
• Elizabeth Yee
Last but never least
• The hundreds of parents and supporters who volunteered all weekend
• The coaches who spent 12-14 hours a day at the clubs for 5 days
YOU are the BEST!!
See everyone in St. Louis in 2024!!!
Photos by Dylan Shoemaker & Lily Caldwell unless noted.