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2019 Midwest Area Schedule

07/27: KC Open Pro (9WS)
07/28: KC Open Gold (9WS)
08/16: US GC Classic
08/17: US GC Classic
08/17: Shield Championship-Tulsa (GC)
08/19: Shield Championship-Tulsa (GC)

02/01: 2020 MCA Annual General Meeting

BOLD = MCA Tournaments

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KC Open Gold Report: Marciniak Makes It Interesting

Justin Marciniak went 5-0 on Saturday to claim his first 9WS Gold Division title. Photo by Gwyneth Bowen. (Click to Zoom)

Parkville, Mo.—Justin Marciniak won all five of his games Saturday to place first in the Gold division at the 2018 Kansas City Open at Kactus Creek Croquet Club.

Starting the final against Ellie Griffith, Marciniak attempted and failed jump shots that rolled each of Griffith's jawsed balls into the game.

Griffith took control. Executing long hoop shots and a series of perfect split shots, she used her partner ball to bring blue to the opposite end of the court in no time. She quickly built a six-wicket lead while Marciniak labored to advance his balls past hoop three.


Griffith's pace slowed as blue began to move station to station and as her blue and black balls incurred two-ball deadness and became logjammed in the danger zone around the center wicket. Black's next wicket was hoop four. Having made the turn, blue was for the 12th-point wicket.

After missing several long roquets, Marciniak's first successful attack was a roquet of Griffth's blue ball with yellow from the sideline with about 25 minutes remaining. Using blue and black, Marciniak scored hoop four and five but stuffed wicket six.

The rest of the game was a battle.

Soon, Griffith roqueted yellow through hoop six and then used her two shots to set up black at the center wicket. Blue set up for the center wicket as well but went too long. Still, with red near the corner, black was set up to score and then make a break with its partner.

Gold Runner-up Ellie Griffith in action during block play. Photo by Gwyneth Bowen. (Click to Zoom)Marciniak took a time out and then took the risk. Instead of partnering with yellow, he made the 30-foot roquet attempt. Red struck blue, moved black out of position, scored the center hoop and made a small break.

The last couple of rotations had a little of everything. Blue was nearly wired, but the official ruled that blue did have a shot on yellow near the end of the court. Instead of risking stranding her blue ball near her opposition on the end, Griffith attempted a 15-ft. shot on the center wicket. Griffith's highlight reel shot extended her lead. Griffith then sent blue out of bounds on the side near the 13th-point hoop. She led 15-11.

Red made another move on what would be its last turn. It scored the two end wickets and the peg. Working with black and yellow, red approached one-back from the stake. Red rushed black to the non-playing side of the wicket. The gallery could tell black was in a great position to let red set up within 9 in. and then score. Marciniak made a mental mistake, however, and abandoned the break.

"You had a brain fart," Debbie Breeden said after the game.

Down by one at 15-14, red set up near its partner.

Marciniak's mistake, though, meant black, which was a bum, could not clear deadness. Griffith had little choice but to take the shot toward the center of the court, away from yellow. Because the ball was next to the wicket, her follow-through was limited. Black rested a few yards south of hoop six.

Yellow made a two-ball break with red to score hoop seven, the stake and the ninth-point hoop to take the 17-15 lead. With the lead, yellow scattered the balls. It placed red near the end line, sent black down the court toward corner four and went out in corner three.

Griffith was not finished. Blue was 9 in. from the west boundary and approximately 12 ft. from hoop 13. She lined up the long angled shot and made her third incredible hoop shot from a distance of the game.

Down by one point, she had a long but clear shot to roquet black and then set up and score the doubles. Blue missed black, and Marciniak clinched his first tournament win since he won the 2016 MCA Championship in the Silver division.

Road to the Championship

Both players had to make comebacks to finish where they did. Marciniak overcame a slow start in the championship. Griffith nearly took her second consecutive Gold championship after winning only one of her three games during block play.

To reach the championship, Griffith, the three seed, controlled most of her semifinal against two-seed Wanda Jackson. In last turns, Jackson brought the deficit to one but couldn't complete the job.

Jackson, who had won two of three during the group stage, finished the day 2-2.

In his first playoff match, Marciniak defeated Jim Ratzlaff, who was making his first MCA Nine Wicket Series appearance in 2018. His last MCA action occurred at the KC Open one year ago.

Although Ratzlaff was originally signed up as a Silver division player, he proved he can compete at the Gold level. Scoring 46 points on the day earned him the sixth position in the season-long Gold division points race and qualifies him for the MCA Championship, scheduled for mid-September.

Griffith remains in first place in the Gold points race. Now four wickets behind Griffith, Marciniak moves up to second place. Jackson remains in third.

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