Report on the 2003 Cornhusker Games

The 2003 Cornhusker Games are history. A report of the badminton competition was published in the August Flick Magazine. For those of you who don’t get the Flick, the article is reproduced below.

Badminton’s 16th edition In Cornhusker State Games 2003:


Bob Ericson, Sport Director & President, Top Flight Club.

It’s the third week in July. Weather forecast: hot and sunny. Shuttlecocks on the sidewalk like rice at a wedding. A slight mist very early in the morning. Badminton directional arrows. All the foregoing greeted players and visitors at the badminton venue, Goodrich Junior High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.

44 participants signed up for the competition-oldest: 61, youngest: 13. Time for badminton to begin? Right? Whoops! Back up a few days. Are we sure we’re supposed to be here? A little background first.

Thursday morning I got a call from Goodrich Middle School, our State Games venue, stating that we couldn’ t use the gym on Saturday because the floors had been refinished and probably would not be dry. “Could we find another place to play?” they wanted to know. The person calling said, “don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.” I said to the lady on the phone, “I have two words for you-the first is Holy and the second word starts with S. You fill in the blanks!” After further discussion with her I called State Games officials in Lincoln and told the coordinator of events what I’d just learned and asked him if he knew anything about what was going on.

“Nope,” he said, very much surprised, “I’ll call you back.”

He called back later to say someone had dropped the ball somewhere along the line. He asked if we ” could work around the situation. Could we set up early Saturday morning?” “Well, yes, we can,” I said hesitantly, but we’d planned to do it Friday night before Opening Ceremonies, not at 6:30 in the morning on the day of the event. So, myself, assistants Al & Carol Toris and volunteers Ron Wu and Herman Btelaan dutifully showed up at 6:30 am to put up nets and get the courts ready for the first games at 8am. We finished in time. Fortunately we’d scouted the facility a week earlier and knew what we had to do. Anyhow, we started only a little late after covering administrative matters, rules, scoring, court etiquette, draw sheets, medals, etc.

Using only four courts, 44 participants, up 38% from last year, played 83 games and scored 1,686 points. 14 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze custom cast 2 1/2 inch medals, with Olympic-style neck ribbons were handed out to the winners in Open Men’s Singles, Recreational Men’s Singles, High School Boys Singles, Open Women’s Singles, Open Men’s Doubles, Recreational Men’s Doubles, Recreational Women’s Doubles, Open Mixed Doubles and Recreational Mixed Doubles.

Al “Clickety clack” Toris once again was Johnny -On-The-Spot with his trusty computer and printer to print continuously updated results in color on draw sheets. Carol Toris and Len Williams tried to keep up with Al. There seemed to be quite a bit of friendly banter between Al, Carol and Len during tournament administration at the desk. If I’m not mistaken, I saw(?) Len being “baptized” by Al at one point with a cup of water. Don’t know what that was all about.. . I’m glad I was hobnobbing with State Games Board member Sharon Hambeck. After observing the play on the courts she said, “It’s intense; it’s interesting; I enjoyed it, I’ll be back.”

Two competitors won three Gold medals: Suanne Au, a mathematics grad student from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and Herman Batelaan, a physics professor at UNL. Suanne won Open Women’s Singles, Open Mixed Doubles and Open Men’s Doubles. Yes, you read it right: Open Men’s Doubles. She teamed with Herman to defeat the Omaha duo of Mani Ponniah and Gunnit Khurana in the finals, 7-15, 15-11, 15-10.

In Open Women’s Singles Suanne won the best of five games over Carolyn Foster of St. Paul. Lastly, she and Herman teamed up again to win the Open Mixed Doubles Round Robin event.

Several players in Recreational Events were first-time competitors. For example, in Rec Men’s Doubles, there were seven teams and none of the players competed last year. This turned out to be a spirited event with University of Nebraska students Raghavendra Kagita and Naga Sanjai Puppala defeating the Omaha team of Ryan Harvey and Steve Sansom 15-11, 15-5. Jim Ellis, from Omaha, another Rec Men’s Doubles competitor said, “I like it and enjoy the game.” He managed to win a bronze medal in Rec Men’s Doubles with his Omaha partner, Ian Sansom.

Rec Men’s Singles was just as competitive. In this event, Ryan Harvey, Omaha captured the gold medal by winning 15-10, 15-4 over Sean Xiao of Omaha. Afterwards Xiao commented, “I still need to practice. I need to be stronger.”

Spectators, although sparse, were interested in the competition. Diane Hoyt, wife of Jim and mother of Matt was watching both play singles events on two different courts at the same time. Jim in Rec Men’s Singles and Matt in High School Boys Singles. After wards, Jim said of his loss, “I just ran out of gas.” Matt bested Nate Liebhart in HS Boys Singles in the best of five games, 9-15, 15-2, 15-4, 15-2.

See complete list of winners at the end of this story.

Statistics provided by the State Games office indicated that badminton had more competitors than Open Water Swimming, BMX Racing, Equestrian, Fencing, Judo, .22 prone, muzzle loading and pistol shooting events but the same number as Arm wrestling. A total of 13,192 athletes competed in 53 sports in this 19th annual Cornhusker State Games.

More on what the State Games are is excerpted from the 60 page Official Entry Guide: The Cornhusker State Games is Nebraska’s amateur sports festival. With 53 sports, the Games offers a broad appeal to Nebraskans of all ages and abilities, ranging from highly competitive olympic sports to those that are more recreational and geared to participation. There’s something for everyone in the Cornhusker State Games.

Organized in 1985, the Games has become a mid-summer tradition attracting thousands of Nebraskans from throughout the state. Besides offering good, wholesome family-oriented activities and abundant fun, the underlying mission of the Cornhusker State Games is education. The Games exposes a multitude of Nebraskans to the benefits of physical fitness and well-being.”

Rulon Gardner, former Nebraska, 2001 World Champion Wrestler, 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist and USOC Sportsman of the Year was the highlight of the Opening Ceremonies and lighter of the Olympic flame at the State Games.

By 3 pm all the badminton events were finished, 83 games had been played 1,686 points had been scored, photos of medal winners were taken, scrap books had been reviewed and Al was ready to unplug his computer. It was time to take down the nets, pick up what was left of the shuttlecocks out front on the sidewalk, turn in the results to Games headquarters and head on over to the Athlete’s Party for grub and entertainment. The 16th edition of badminton at the Cornhusker State Games was in the can.

Complete list of medal winners:

Open Men’s Singles:

Gold: Herman Batelaan, Lincoln

Silver: Mani Ponniah, Omaha

Bronze: Sarfraz Chandio, Omaha

Recreational Men’s Singles:

Gold: Ryan Harvey, Omaha

Silver: Sean Xiao, Omaha

Bronze: Jim Hoyt, Lincoln

High School Boys Singles

Gold: Matt Hoyt, Lincoln

Silver: Nate Liebhart, Wood River

Bronze: None awarded

Open Women’s Singles

Gold: Suanne Au, Lincoln

Silver: Carolyn Foster, St. Paul

Bronze: None awarded

Open Men’s Doubles:

Gold: Herman Batelaan/Suanne Au

Silver: Mani Ponniah/Gunnit Khurana, Omaha

Bronze: Tong Lu, Omaha/Sarfraz Chandio

Recreational Men’s Doubles

Gold: Raghavendra Kagita/Naga Sanjai Puppala

Silver: Steve Sansom/Ryan Harvey

Bronze: Ian Sansom, Omaha/Jim Ellis, Omaha

Recreational Women’s Doubles

Gold: Shan Fan, Omaha/Carol Toris, Omaha

Silver: Jessica Edgar, Beaver Lake/Barb Edgar, Beaver Lake

Bronze: Anne Patterson, Lincoln, Kim Rutledge, Lincoln

Open Mixed Doubles

Gold: Suanne Au/Herman Batelaan

Silver: Carolyn Foster/Ron Wu, Omaha

Bronze: Yi-Ching Liu, Omaha/Sarfraz Chandio

Recreational Mixed Doubles

Gold: Nuzhat Mahmood, Omaha/Ian Sansom

Silver: Shan Fan/Al Toris, Omaha

Bronze: Carol Toris/Steve Sansom

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