MSU handball claims first combined national title

Thirteen men’s players and eight women’s players competed for Minnesota State in the most recent United States Handball Association’s Collegiate Handball National tournament in Springfield, Mo. 

The tournament was the 69th tournament held for handball players where the Mavericks claimed their first combined national championship. With the win, MSU snapped a 30-year streak of the winner either being Missouri State or Lake Forest College. 

Handball head coach Michael Wells was relieved when the Mavericks edged out the win this year. “We came within three points of winning it the year before… this year we won by three points” Wells said. “It’s been what we have been trying to do for a while now. It feels great.” 

The final point total came down to the Mavericks at 4492 and Missouri State at 4489.

Wells explained that three points is the difference between winning one match and losing that match throughout the whole tournament. 

The MSU men’s handball team claimed an individual championship themselves as well, edging out Lake Forest College 2258 to 2241. The women’s team came close to their own national title, claiming a runner-up bid to Missouri State 2289 to 2234. 

“I am someone who enjoys the journey as much as the accomplishment,” said Wells. “I am proud of all the work they put in.”

Wells explained the win came down to the wire on Sunday saying, “We needed one match to clinch the national title and Missouri State ended up losing their match.” 

The handball coach found out the team clinched the title during the Mavericks’ final match of the tournament while coaching an injured player. “I told him ‘hey you don’t have to keep competing, we have sewn up the title’ and it was a sigh of relief.” 

The handball team puts a ton of effort into their craft and it was a “moment to be proud” for the handball coaching staff.

Two Mavericks achieved All-American status for their performance in the tournament. Senior Michael Gaulton claimed his fourth All-American status while sophomore Ray Ure claimed his first. 

Other Mavs also received awards, where senior Andrew Christiansen was named the Most Improved Player, improving 88 places since the last collegiate national tournament. Senior Claire Hagstrom also received an award, winning the Spirit of Handball award given to players who show respect, honesty, self-discipline, and camaraderie during the tournament. 

Header Photo: The MSU club handball team won their first combined national title with the men’s team also claiming first, and the women, second. (Submitted photo)

Write to Kole Buelow at kole.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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