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Aggie handball players win national singles, doubles titles

March 10th, 2013 Posted in Sports

By Curtis Lundstrom

LOGAN—Utah State’s club teams took another step forward thanks to senior handballers Ryan Campbell and Jon Larson, who brought home a pair of championships from the 2013 National Collegiate Handball Championships.

Battling a field of 250 of the nation’s top collegiate handball players, Campbell took the men’s 1B division, and paired with Larson to win the men’s B doubles division.

“Playing in a national championship is what every college athlete dreams about,” Larson said. “So to have finally not only lived the dream but to win it is amazing. It’s what Ryan and I have been working on for the last three years together.”

Campbell breezed through the early rounds of singles competition, but then ran into Isaac Garcia of the University of California-Santa Cruz in the final.

After splitting the first two games of the match, Campbell found himself down 10-6 and one point from defeat. But his refuse-to-lose attitude propelled him to the come-from-behind victory after breaking Garcia’s serve and reeling off five straight points.

“It was a lot of fun,” Campbell said. “I was a little nervous in that last match. … It was just point for point. [In the] second game, he actually had my number. I couldn’t seem to get the ball on my hand. I thought he was going to get me.”

No such dramatics were needed during the doubles competition as Campbell and Larson—who have played together for three years and in two national tourneys—outscored their opponents 210-70 throughout the tournament and didn’t drop a single game en route to the title.

The biggest challenge the pairs team faced was when Larson split his chin open diving for a ball. The cut was deep enough to require stitches, but Larson had his uncle, Jay Larson, sew him up right there on the court so he could continue playing.

Top female competitor Kim Butcher finished as runner-up in the Women’s 1A division, the third consecutive year that Butcher lost in the title match.

“Each year I’ve moved up a bracket,” Butcher said. “I’m kind of used to losing in the final I guess. I don’t try to, it just happens that way.”

The Aggies placed 11th overall as a team, but head coach Herm Olsen said he was proud of the way the team performed.

“Boy, they competed and gave everything they had,” Olsen said. “It was a remarkable tournament. Utah State did so well. … We’re talking blood sweat and tears. These guys gave their all for Utah State.”

The titles are the most recent success of club teams at USU. The club baseball team also won a national title last season, and the hockey team will compete at the national tournament March 15-19.



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