JSU Cornholers

National cornhole champions Branson Oliver, left, and Dustin Travis are juniors at Jacksonville State University.

Branson Oliver and Dustin Travis are the American Cornhole League national college doubles champions. Oliver and Travis are juniors at Jacksonville State University. Oliver studies occupational safety and health, and Travis studies computer science. The champions will be recognized by Jacksonville State University on Jan. 17 at the JSU basketball game; tip-off is 7:15 p.m.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

Branson Oliver: I work at Honda Manufacturing right now, and with my safety major, I plan to get a job with Honda as a safety manager or with OSHA later on in life.

Dustin Travis: I have a big golf background; I played college golf, and I work as an assistant pro at Anniston Country Club. I think I am going to go through the PGM (professional golf management) program and try to manage a golf course as a head pro.  

How did you get into cornhole?

BO: When I was in high school, I played it all the time with my buddy Jarrett Webb. His parents, Amy and Derek Webb, made my first set of cornhole boards. We have local tournaments in Alabama. Central Alabama Cornhole Club — now known as Alabama Cornhole — has fundraising tournaments, and I started playing those. In 2016, I won Player of the Year. In 2017, they raised over $65,000 for charities.

DT: Branson got me into it. I just played it in the backyard for fun, and he told me about the local tournaments. I started playing more, and I started liking it more.

How did you become teammates for the tournament?

BO: To attend that tournament, you had to be two undergraduate students from the same school. Dustin was the only person I really knew who played cornhole with me, so I told him, “Hey, let’s go play in this,” and we did, and we won!

Tell us about the tournament.

BO: ACL, American Cornhole League, ran the tournament, and I play competitive cornhole, so I travel all over the country and play. Last year, they did the SEC tournament, and this year they did all colleges.

What is cornhole?

DT: The objective is to score more points than the other team, and the first team to score 21 points wins. Getting the bag in the hole will get you the most points (3), but you at least want to keep your bag on the board (1). The other team can cancel out your points based on how they throw, so if you throw into the hole, and they throw into the hole right after you, your 3 points are canceled out, and no one gets points. You alternate throws between you and your opponent; after your turn, your partner and his opponent throw to your side. You go back and forth until one team scores 21 points. Something new to us in the tournament was that we only had 15 rounds per game, and we had never played that way. That kind of changed our game a little bit because we had to be a little more conservative.

What are the longest and shortest games you have seen?

BO: I have seen games last 45 minutes in pro leagues.

DT: One of the teams we beat in the semi-finals, we won 21-0 in four rounds.

Are there different techniques used when playing?

BO: There are different stances and different throws you can do.

DT: I stand still when I throw, but a lot of people step and throw.

BO: When you stand still, it eliminates any extra movement to change the bag, but when you step, it is more of a rhythm throwing. You can get more power behind it. I am a hard thrower. I can push a bag easily and curve a bag.

DT: A lot of people throw the bag differently. A lot of people like to spin it a lot, which keeps it on a direct line when it hits the board.

Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at Faith.h.dorn@gmail.com.

 

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