Boxer Handball Adds to Legacy at USHA National Collegiate Championships

handballThe Pacific University Handball Team added five more national championships to its illustrious history at the 67th annual United States Handball Association National Collegiate Championships, held Feb. 20-24 at the University of Minnesota.

A club sport program at Pacific, Boxer Handball compiled a 37-23 overall record in capturing its fourth consecutive team national championship in the men's and women's Combined A Division. The Boxer men and women's teams each finished 2nd overall in the A Division.

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Pacific student-athletes performed well against significantly larger public universities, many of which compete in NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics. The Boxers, an NCAA Division III member, compiled a perfect 6-0 mark against players representing The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a 4-1 record against the University of Illinois, 4-0 versus the University of West Florida and 5-2 against host Minnesota State University.

Individually, the Boxers added four national championships to increase their all-time total to 36.

Zack Saros '21 captured the men's B3 Division championship, and Dillon Savage '20 defeated fellow Boxer Peter Callahan '21 to win the C1 Division title. Saros and Savage, both kickers on Pacific's varsity football team, took up handball just two months ago.

On the women's side, Abby Evan '22 won the C1 championship, and teammates Tessa DeBartolo '21 and Julie Huestis '20 won the B Division Doubles title. Evan, who began playing the sport six months ago, posted two come-from-behind tiebreaker wins en route to the title. DeBartolo and Huestis' road to the championship included a tiebreaker win over Boxer teammates Kili Kunitomo '19 and Carli Feist '21. The doubles title was Huestis' third career national crown and DeBartolo's second consecutive national doubles title.

Other standout performances came from Hannah Ramsey '20, who made the women's B3 Division final, and Kunitomo, who advanced to the women's B1 semifinal.

DeBartolo also earned the Most Improved Player of the Year, jumping nearly 30 points to the A1 Division. She battled the tournament's No. 2 seed for more than two hours in front of a standing room crowd, according to fourth-year head coach David Steinberg, who was named College Coach of the Year by his peers.

Pacific's handball club sport program began in 1977 under Professor Emeritus Mike Steele. Since 1981, the Boxers have appeared in 39 consecutive collegiate national tournaments and captured numerous individual and team national championships. Participation is open to all interested Pacific students, and prior experience is not a prerequisite, as several Boxer handballers have captured national championships after learning the sport at Pacific.

Following the Boxers' latest championship run, FOX 12 Oregon caught up with Steinberg, Steele and several student-athletes.

For more information on the history of Boxer Handball, visit goboxers.com.

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Feb. 27, 2019