Roster spot for billiards tournament ends with intersquad playoff

Alan+Oliver+lines+up+an+early+shot+in+his+first+set+of+Thursday%27s+playoff+for+a+final+roster+spot+of+the+University+of+Michigan+Team+Championships.+%3Cbr%3EPhoto+by+Walker+Van+Wey
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Roster spot for billiards tournament ends with intersquad playoff

Alan Oliver lines up an early shot in his first set of Thursday's playoff for a final roster spot of the University of Michigan Team Championships. Photo by Walker Van Wey

Alan Oliver lines up an early shot in his first set of Thursday's playoff for a final roster spot of the University of Michigan Team Championships.
Photo by Walker Van Wey

Alan Oliver lines up an early shot in his first set of Thursday's playoff for a final roster spot of the University of Michigan Team Championships.
Photo by Walker Van Wey

Alan Oliver lines up an early shot in his first set of Thursday's playoff for a final roster spot of the University of Michigan Team Championships.
Photo by Walker Van Wey

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WALKER VAN WEY| Reporter

The University of Michigan Team Championship is a 16-school tournament where Lindenwood will send its top five players on a mission to yet again breeze through a tournament they’ve historically dominated.

What came first, however, was finding the top five.

“We played the 10 rounds of 15 ball,” said head coach Mark Wilson. “There’s no luck; it’s all you. What you get is what you get. It’s honest. I told them that was the criteria because it was five people. Landon declined going, which is fine, because it would be remarkable if we didn’t win the tournament anyway.”

After every participating team member played their racks, with the idea of making as many consecutive balls in a row as possible, the top four was made.

  • Andreas Madsen- 148
  • Brianna Miller- 147
  • Taylor Hansen- 121
  • Brandon Jordan- 116

The fifth and final spot came down to a tie at 106 between Taren Stewart and Alan Oliver — a 1 in 150 chance.

“When it somehow came down to Taren and Alan, they played four sets of 15 ball,” Wilson said.

Stewart played the first set of the alternating series and noticed a mistake right off the initial break.

“I felt pretty strong, but my cue ball drifted from the center of the table right away which was a bad sign,” Stewart said.

Taren Stewart looking to sink his seventh ball of his first set.
Photo by Walker Van Wey

After a run of eight balls in the first set, Stewart was left to watch Oliver try to best him for the final spot, which he eventually did.

“Him going first was probably an advantage for me,” Oliver said. “I was really pleased with the way I approached all the balls, I didn’t have any miscues, and that’s a big deal.”

Oliver ended his first rack with a score of 13 to Stewart’s 8. Similar trends continued throughout the playoff resulting in Oliver winning and capturing the final roster spot.

“I was elated. I’ve been really struggling with the 15 ball,” Oliver said. “That was the best I’ve ever done at that. I had a 57 by the end of it, which is three off of a perfect game.”

In a show of class and character coach Wilson demands, after the playoff, teammates shook hands and redirected their focus to the match they were competing for.

“I was disappointed because I knew I should have gotten a higher score,” Stewart said. “Either way though, I think we have a much stronger team than last year.”

With the top five players saddled up and ready to play, Lindenwood waits with confidence.

“It’s not even going to be a light snack,” Wilson said. “It’d be a mighty quiet ride home if we were to lose. Not that I would be pissed off that we lost; it would be that we didn’t apply ourselves. There just is no college team out there that can beat us. It takes Nick Varner to beat us.”

The University of Michigan Team Championships begins Nov. 11 and ends on Nov. 12.