The Saratoga Sun -

Open an '11'

Wyoming Open completes 11th year, Van Boening wins Masters tournament


April 11, 2018

Joshua Wood

Women's Expert Division competitor June Davis prepares to shoot on Saturday at the Wyoming Open.

On Friday morning, pool players gathered in the Platte Valley Community Center (PVCC) awaiting their table assignments to be announced. Some were fresh faced and ready to go while others were less so, having stayed up the night before to watch the end of the Pro-Am tournament. The green felt on the tables contrasted the blanket of snow forming outside, courtesy of one of Wyoming's signature spring storms. The Wyoming Open had officially begun.

Entering its 11th year, the Wyoming Open has attracted pool players from across the country and over the globe and this year was no different. On Wednesday night, Valley residents and pool players were treated to an exhibition match between Shane Van Boening and Corey Deuel. The Van Boening/Deuel duel took place after Mike Massey, a world renowned pool player, faced off against Saratoga's mayor Ed "E.J." Glode.

As the tables were announced, some as close as a few steps away in the Great Hall of the PVCC and others as far as the Whistle Pig on the outskirts of southern Saratoga, players grabbed their score cards and headed off towards their tables. As they prepared to leave, they were informed the Saratoga Safe Ride was available, driven by Saratoga's own Joe Kunz.

It wasn't long after the tables were announced the sharp crack of pool balls being driven against each other filled the Great Hall. While some areas of the large room were easy to navigate, others were more congested. Sportsman and classic division players stopped to watch and marvel at pro-players Johnny Archer, Van Boening and Deuel among others. Glode and Massey were the first to appear in the spotlight, playing at the livestream table.

The day wore on and the players began to filter out into the winners' brackets and the losers' brackets. With breaks between the games, people lined up to get food and drinks from Duke's. By the afternoon, the snow had stopped and melted away but the chill of early spring in Wyoming had yet to dissipate. Unless they had to venture outside to smoke or go to their next game, people stayed inside the warmth of the community center.

Saturday morning saw some warmth return to the Valley and players return to the PVCC to, once again, wait for table assignments. Local players in the sportsman division who had found their way into the losers bracket filtered out to surrounding taverns, each of them eager to ensure they stayed in the competition. Meanwhile, on the livestream table, Deuel and Van Boening once again faced each other to determine who would go onto the finals for the masters division.

By Saturday afternoon the clouds and cold weather had returned. Some players were taken out of the competition all together while others seemed to continue by the grace of the billiards gods. Deuel lost to Van Boening and then to Andrew Pettenger, placing him third in the masters division. Van Boening beat Pettenger, winning the Wyoming Open for the sixth time.

As day turned to evening, and a storm still threatened to break loose, pool players left the PVCC to head downtown and take part in the Hard Luck tournament at Duke's and the Rustic. In the middle of the night, the storm that had been on the cusp all day finally let loose.

Sunday morning, as the final day of the tournament began, little evidence remained of the storm from late the previous night. The parking lot of the PVCC as well as the Great Hall were both far less crowded than the previous days as players and spectators began the trek home. As the finals for the sportsman, classic and expert divisions began so too did the masters 8-ball matches.

Seth Krafezik, who had lost to Van Boening in one of the first matches in Saratoga for the masters division, faced the "South Dakota Kid" again in 8-ball. Krafezik, who is not even old enough to drink, was able to hold his own against the No. 1 nationally ranked pool player. Near the end of the match it looked as if the young pool player would win against the more experienced Van Boening until he scratched, giving his opponent a chance to run the table and win by one game.

As Krafeizk and Van Boening faced off on the felt, a small crowd formed in front of the announcer's box. Players and spectators alike gathered to watch as two phenomenal pool players took turns running the table, neither of them spending more than two minutes clearing the table of the billiards.

As the weekend came to an end, another spring storm roared into the Valley. The same flurry of snow that had welcomed players to the Wyoming Open and marked the beginning of the event also ushered the players out. By Monday morning, the energy that had been present over the last four days had all but disappeared as locals returned to work. No matter how they did this year, there was always next year.


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