Senior Leo Canales finished off a dramatic victory in the final to claim titles for him and the Lake Forest College men at the United States Handball Association National Collegiate Championships on Sunday.
The Foresters needed a victory by Canales and a loss for host Missouri State University in the men's A1 final to finish in first place by a single point. The latter occurred in two games while Canales dropped game one to Missouri State's top player 21-16 before prevailing by the same score in the second. An 11-8 triumph in game three made Canales the individual national champion and gave Lake Forest the 21st men's team title in program history. The Foresters have also captured 11 women's and 19 combined team championships since the program began in 1968. All 51 titles have come under the direction of Mike Dau '58, the only head coach in team history.
Canales also competed with fellow senior Ricardo Palma in the Men's Open Doubles final on Sunday but fell 21-8, 21-5. A victory would have made Canales the first Forester since Nikolai Nahorniak in 2011 to claim both titles. Canales was named All-American for his performance in both singles and doubles and Palma in doubles.
Senior Kyra Vidas was the top finisher for the Forester women. She won the Open Singles 9-16 bracket with a 21-16, 21-9 victory on Sunday.
The event began with preliminary rounds on Wednesday and Thursday that placed players in appropriate 16-player divisions. The Foresters who joined Canales in the Men's Open were freshman Anthony Sullivan, Palma, and seniors Max Roberts and Carter Kounovsky. Sullivan prevailed W, 21-4, 15-21, 11-5 in the round of 16 before dropping his quarterfinal contest. The other three fell to the Open 9-16 bracket, where Roberts advanced to the semifinal round.
Sophomore Riley Frisbie was the second-highest ranked Forester on the women's side and she rattled off three consecutive victories to reach the semifinals of the A1 division. Three Lake Forest men also coompeted at the A1 level, where sophomore Chandler Straw and senior Jonathan Vargas advanced to the quarterfinals while sophomore Devin Peters was eliminated in the round of 16.
Lake Forest had four women in the A2 division with senior Frankie Corrado advancing to the semifinals and sophomore Annabeth Gibbons the quarterfinals. Juniors Quinn Matuschek and Quinn Jagodzinski fell in the round of 16. Junior Xavier Higa was the only A2 player among the Forester men and he fell in the round of 16.
Lake Forest sophomore Riley Marketa and freshman Emily Wichgers were B1 quarterfinalists on the women's side while sophomore Madison Drake needed victories to play her way into the bracket before falling in the round of 16.
Sophomore Lexi Vargas was slotted in the women's B2 division while classmate Brandon Sanchez competed at the same level on the men's side. Both players reached the quarterfinals.
In addition to the singles titles claimed by Canales in the Men's Open division and Vidas in the Women's Open 9-16 bracket, freshman Jacob Czarapata won three straight matches to finish first in the Men's C1 division.
In doubles action Sullivan and Peters reached the Men's Open semifinals before falling 21-17, 21-18 to the eventual champions. Roberts and Straw were knocked out in the quarterfinals, as were Kounovsky and Roberts. Higa and Sanchez were also quarterfinalists in the A division.
On the women's side Vidas and Corrado competed in the Open division and fell in the quarterfinals. Frisbie and Jogodzinski advanced to the semifinals in the A bracket before falling in three games. The final in the B division was an all-Lake Forest affair with Gibbons and Wichgers defeating Matuschek and Riley 21-17, 21-19. Drake and Vargas were eliminated in the B quarterfinals.
The Lake Forest men completed the five-day event with 2,309 points, just one more than Missouri State. The Forester women finished with 2,147 points, which was good for fourth place. Missouri State took the women's and combined titles in convincing fashion with Lake Forest as the runner-up in the latter category ahead of Minnesota State University, Mankato and the University of Texas.