OKWU Croquet Championship: Battle of Wickets

Written By: Liam Watts / Photos By: Paige Bostwick

Last week, many of you may have been blinded on your way to the mansion or dorms due to the brilliant reflection of Oklahoma Wesleyan’s all white croquet uniform. While United States Croquet Association (USCA), or Golf Croquet, is different from your traditional lawn croquet, the rules remain fairly similar. After three weeks of intense inter-team competition, the eight best OKWU croquet players faced off on Wednesday, October 3, for a shot at the OKWU 2018 Champion title and a cash prize. The bracket, beginning in order from first to last place, consisted of Matt Greenwood, Kena Haley, Trey Brown, Jake Campbell, Logan Thomas, Liam Watts, Matthew Feistner, and Emma Thomas. With a strong turnout of student support and countless upsets throughout the day, the first ever OKWU croquet championship was an exciting time and a watershed moment for the team.

Before any other games could be played, the tournament began with Ashlyen Fisher and Emma Thomas competing in a tiebreaker for the 8th seed (place). Both players nervously teed off with all eyes upon them. It was a tense game, but Emma went on to win with a 3-point lead. Ashlyen described her first playoff experience as “stressful, which threw my game off,” but she also said it was “still really fun.”

This initial tiebreaker took the game into the first official round: Matt G. vs. Emma, Kena vs. Matt F., Trey vs. Liam, and Jake vs. Logan. Matt G. and Emma played a quick first game that ended with a predicted victory for 1st place seed Matt G. However, Emma still played a great match and said “I don’t feel bad because I lost to a good competitor.” Jake and Logan followed them with a second quick game ending in a victory for Jake. This was the first huge upset of the day, and it wouldn’t be the last. Since Logan is a seasoned veteran of the croquet team, nobody expected him to be knocked out so soon. Logan said his loss “sucked, but I had a presentation to prepare for anyways.”

From here the bracket continued getting crazier with Kena and Matt F. taking the field. Kena, a clear favorite to win the entire tournament, was expected to take the victory in this match, but after a few disastrous hits resulting in giving her opponent two free points, she found herself backed into a corner. From there, Matt F. was able to come back and defeat Kena. The last game in the first set was between Trey and Liam, and it was obvious how fiercely they both wanted to win. Intensely close until the very end, Liam managed an upset with a neck and neck 7-5 final score. This left Matt G., Jake, Matt F., and Liam advancing to the semi-finals.

In a shocking turn of events, bracket upsets continued into the semi-finals with the first game of Matt G. vs. Jake. Playing an incredibly long match that went all the way to the end of its timer, Jake managed to beat another seasoned croquet veteran, Matt G., with a solid lead of 6-3. “I felt like my career was over, but I’ll live to croquet another day,” said Matt G. after the match. Having beaten the top player in the bracket, Jake advanced to the finals.

The second game of the semi-finals was a battle of true underdogs. Liam, originally the 6th seed, vs. Matt F., originally the 7th seed, faced off to see who would play Jake in the finals. Liam wasted no time and immediately took a solid lead that he managed to hold onto for the rest of the match with a series of skillful shots. Unfortunately for Matt F., Liam’s lead meant that when the clock ran out on a 6-3 score, Liam was the winner by default. Despite the tough loss, this was fine with Matt F. because at the end of the day he was just glad he was “#notlast.” This left a final showdown between Jake and Liam to decide the championship, a rival combination that no one saw coming.

Nobody likes an anti-climax, and Jake and Liam made sure to deliver an intense, back-and-forth battle of wickets. Long shots, stop shots, and jump shots punctuated the longest game of the day. As the two competitors went mallet to mallet, croquet ball to croquet ball, and wicket to wicket, everyone gazed onwards in eager anticipation of meeting their new OKWU croquet champion. This grueling bout finally came to an end when Jake pulled away with a quick succession of back to back points, which left Jake Campbell the undisputed OKWU croquet champion. Afterwards, Liam was “just glad I won at least a single game.”

As Jake took home the winner’s check as well as the grand prize (bragging rights), it isn’t likely Jake will forget, or let anyone else forget, this experience anytime soon. The croquet team “thanks everyone who came out,” and hopes OKWU students “will continue to be great spectators of the sport.”