ACO holds regional cornhole tournament in Russellville

The American Cornhole Association held a regional tournament Feb. 19 at the Chucky Mullins Center in Russellville. Cornhole has been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years, and for many of the contestants, it’s the fellowship and friendly competition that draws them to the game.

One of the competitors, Tanjie Siniard of Athens, described cornhole as “family-friendly, competitive fun” – a sentiment shared by many players of the game.

“I enjoy the fellowship and the chance to meet lots of different kinds of people,” agreed Brian Reed, who traveled from Decatur to participate in the tournament. “We’ve been to tournaments this year in West Virginia, Panama City Beach and Tupelo. We play all the time, and we’ve made a lot of friends this way. We usually play a couple times a week.”

Divisions of play in Saturday’s tournament included women’s, juniors, seniors, singles and doubles.

Twenty-two competed in the singles division, nine in the doubles, four in juniors, four in co-ed and four in seniors.

In the singles division, Shane Fretwell placed first, Amber Fretwell placed second, Kenny Hogan placed third and Ronald Fretwell placed fourth.

In the doubles division, Amber Fretwell and Shane Fretwell came in first, Eugene Gulley and Stevie Riggins came in second, and Michael Moss and Randy Mumpower came in third.

For the co-ed division, Amber Fretwell and Shane Fretwell placed first, and Nicole Stephens and Brett Stephens placed second.

Stephens, of Limestone County, said he has been playing the game off and on for 12 years. “It’s competitive, but you don’t have to be in shape, and you get to meet all kinds of people when you play.”

For the senior division, Ronny Cornelison placed first and Jeff Hovis placed second. Cornelison came from Ardmore to participate, and he said cornhole is an enjoyable experience all the way around. “It’s good exercise, and it’s good for meeting people, especially those outside your community,” he said. “You get to know a lot of folks by playing.”

Hovis, who is from Athens, echoed the sentiments. “It’s a friendly competition, and I like getting to meet people. You also get better when you play against better players. I’ve been playing about two years, and I love it.”

For the Fretwells, cornhole is a game they play frequently. Shane got into cornhole first, getting his start by playing in a local benefit tournament, and they both play two or three times per week now. They are active with Northwest Alabama Cornhole, though they also compete outside of that group.

Amber’s current ACO ranking places her 10th in the women’s world singles division and second for the state of Alabama. “I enjoy the competition,” she explained. “It’s fun to play, and I like the friendly atmosphere.”

Ethan Hallman, of Phil Campbell, said it’s something fun to do to get out of the house. “It brings the community together, and all ages can participate. It’s just a fun little sport that anybody can do.”

For those who would like to have a go at playing cornhole, weekly tournaments are held at the Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department, Thursdays at 6 p.m.

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