BYU racquetball team produces All-Americans, top spots at national championship

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 9:30 a.m. MDT

Members of the BYU racquetball team after competing in the 2013 USA Racquetball National Collegiate Championships at Arizona State University, Saturday, March 23, 2012. The Cougars placed second overall as a team.

Kendall Hess

PROVO — There is another sports team at Brigham Young University that is gaining national attention: the racquetball team.

The BYU racquetball team traveled to Arizona State University last weekend with its top six male and female players to compete against 50 other teams and 350 players for the chance at national titles in the 2013 USA Racquetball National Collegiate Championships.

Cole Burr, Lincoln Cluff, Patrick Harris, Braden Hess, Bryson Renouard and Brian Zundel made up the top six for the BYU men's team. Eliza Blank, Amy Collyer, Mary Culverwell, Kristin Hatch, Lisa Kuttler and Jaleen Rogers made up the women's team. Paige Bryson also attended the event, participating in a special skills division that did not contribute to team points.

"Last year, we missed third place overall by only two points, so this year it was all about taking care of business," said senior Bryson Renouard. "We wanted to take home a trophy, so everyone just needed to perform."

The team has traveled across Utah, Idaho and Arizona to compete in tournaments against other universities and colleges in preparation for the national championship. The team also toned up with diet and fitness conditioning, holding practices three times a week for two hours.

"We practice three times a week from 6-8; I lifted in the off-days," Renouard said. "I played pretty much every day and we had tournaments almost every week."

Players are ranked based on tournament wins during the regular season and then placed against others with their same rank in the national tournament, which is divided into four classifications: gold, blue, red and white.

Players are then seeded within their brackets by how they perform in their first two matches. If a player wins the first and second match, the player is placed into the gold bracket. Those who win their first and lose their second match play in the blue bracket; those who lose the first but win the second match play in the red bracket, and those who lose both their opening matches play in the white bracket.

Each player on the team participates in a singles tournament, as well as a doubles tournament with another member of the team.

The hard work and dedication paid off for the men's team, which had every player participate in the gold bracket in both singles and doubles. In the singles tournament, each player from the men's team placed third overall in his respective division.

"I was really excited for this tournament," said BYU racquetball head coach Paul Snyder. "We had a fantastic team, and I knew they would do really well if they worked hard."

In the doubles tournament, all the teams competed in the gold division of their brackets. The No. 1 seeded team, Burr/Zyndel, placed third overall; the No. 2 seeded team, Harris/Hess, placed third overall; while the No. 3 seeded team, Cluff/Renouard, took second overall in their respective brackets.

"We just went in there and got business done. Every close match that we had we won," Renouard said.

The women's team found success as well in its competitions. In the singles tournament, No. 1 seeded Eliza Blank placed second in the blue division of her bracket. The No. 2 seeded Rodgers placed fourth; the third seeded Mary Culverwell placed third; the fourth seeded Collyer placed third; and the fifth seeded Hatch was named a national champion in the gold tournament of their respective brackets.

The women's doubles teams all participated in the gold division of their brackets, with the No. 4 seeded team of Blank/Culverwell placing fourth; No. 3 seeded Rogers/Collyer placing third; and the No. 1 seeded team of Hatch/Kuttler claiming a national championship title in their bracket.

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