The next morning the Kubb Squirrels got up early and headed out to the pitches to get in some practice. The weather was supposed to be the complete opposite from the day before. On Saturday it was hot and sunny all day, Sunday’s forecast called for weather in the low 60’s, heavy wind and rain. As the Kubb Squirrels warmed up they took in the atmosphere, realizing that they were one of the top 16 teams in the country and that this was their ultimate goal for the year. As they looked around they saw all of the best players in the country, and they were going to get to play in a match against at least 3 of those teams.
On Sunday all 16 teams are placed into groups of 4 again to play 3 matches, whoever won the group moves on to the final four to compete for the championship. The Kubb Squirrels found themselves in a group with the Lumber Tumblers, the Mavericks and the Ringers. The Lumber Tumblers from Eau Claire and Minneapolis were also new to playing on Sunday and included our friend Chris Jones so we were excited to play against them. The Mavericks from Chaska Minnesota are a great team that finished tied for 5th last year and was made up of top players that are always in contention for a championship. The Ringers from Eau Claire are the 2010 U.S. Champions and 2015 runner-up; they were one team that we always wanted to get to play against which was exciting. The Kubb Squirrels went into the day with no expectations, they had already achieved as much as they thought they could, now they just wanted to show that they could play with anybody in the country.
First up for the Kubb Squirrels, the Mavericks from Chaska Kubb. The Kubb Squirrels came out hitting 8-meter shots but so did the Mavericks. The first game moved quickly, the Kubb Squirrels survived giving up an advantage line and took the first game. This was a surprising start for the Kubb Squirrels and gave them a little bit of confidence that maybe they really can play with these teams. The second game the Squirrels got off to another strong start and took an early lead but eventually gave up another advantage line that they wouldn’t survive. The 3rd game was much like the first two, the Kubb Squirrels came out strong and the Mavericks matched it. This time when the game got to 9 kubbs deep the Mavericks gave up an advantage that the Kubb Squirrels would use to take the match! (Watch the full match here)
The next match the Kubb Squirrels would take on the 2010 National Champion Ringers. The weather went from cool and rainy with some wind to very cool, very rainy and very windy. With the wind, the match started slowly with both teams having trouble hitting their 8-meter shots. The wind made inkasting more difficult as well. Eventually the Ringers found their stride and cleared the Squirrels’ back line, the Squirrels gave an advantage and the Ringers took the first game. In the second game the Ringers came out strong, hitting 8-meters like there wasn’t any wind out there and took out the Kubb Squirrels in just a few turns. (Watch the full match here)
The Kubb Squirrels were a little disappointed, not that had lost but that they felt like they could have played better. Beating a team of that caliber would have taken their best play. The Squirrels were just happy that they had the opportunity to play with these great teams. The day wasn’t over though; the Kubb Squirrels were still alive. If the Ringers lost to the Mavericks, there would be a throw off to play in the Final Four. So the Kubb Squirrels took a short break and moved over a pitch to play against the friend Chris Jones’ team, the Lumber Tumblers.
The Kubb Squirrels came into the match playing just to have fun, they couldn’t control what happened in the other match so they would just go out there and enjoy playing on Sunday because there were so many people watching that day that wished they could be doing the same. The first game started VERY slow, it took 4-5 turns before anyone could hit an 8-meter shot but once it happened it was a really good game. Eventually the Squirrels got an advantage line and took the first game. The second game was nothing like the first, both teams came out strong but the Kubb Squirrels would have a great turn early knocking down the final 3 baseline kubbs with 3 batons and had one to spare for the king and the win. (Watch the full match here)
The Ringers had won their match against the Mavericks so the Kubb Squirrels had been eliminated. But they really didn’t care, they had so much fun just being there on Sunday and the fact that they won two matches on Sunday made it all the better. They ended up finishing T-5 (tied for 5th) out of 128 teams and proved to themselves that they can play with some of the best teams in the country.
The Kubb Squirrels took in the end of group play and headed out for the long 11-12 hour drive back to Ohio. They left feeling more than satisfied with how they played. By winning 2 matches on Sunday, they surpassed their ultimate goal for the year and more importantly they had fun and put Ohio Kubb on the map!