There were 12 boards set up for the tourney, which was plenty for this event as our peak participation was at 26 for the cricket singles on Saturday. Eleven of the boards were set up in the front room. I didn't even know there was a board 12 until an hour into the blind draw event on Friday. The highlight of the weekend for me, was the food. From appetizers to deserts, the food at Wasabi's unbelievable. Colt and Dali don't cut corners on ingredients, and they have spent a lot of time to create some unique servings. During the weekend, I got to try out the Octopus Poke, the Potstickers with sake pesto, the Sliders with Kobe corned beef and gruyere cheese, the Shrimp and Grits, the Smoked Duck Tacos, the Mac and Cheese with scallops, the Seafood Stew, and one bite of the Mango Layer Cake because my wife would not share any more than that. I am a big pizza guy, so I had to try the Duck Bacon Pizza. It's no wonder they ran out of this on Saturday. I started eating my Duck Bacon Pizza Saturday afternoon and left none for my wife, which is probably why I only got one bite of the Mango Layer Cake. Wasabi's also has a Sushi Bar, but it was closed for the weekend as we needed the space and their sushi chef (Colt) was playing darts. You can see their whole menu at http://wasabisrestaurant.com/.
Saturday saw lots of players from Kenai in the various events. Anchorage was represented by Dean Fleer and Sean Palmer, who flew in Saturday morning. Wasilla had a contingency of females (Carrie Keays, Trista Fetchonhier, and Anastasia Clarey), which helped boost the women's entries for 501 higher than the entries for men. Joe Kilbourn came from Colorado for his first End of the Road dart tourney. I think Joe is probably the only one that ate more than me during the weekend.
Friday Blind Draw- 1st-Kyle Olson/Michele Olson, 2nd-Joe Kilbourn/Carrie Keays, T4-Chris Cronce/Susie Aguvluk, Jay Montez/Jim McClay.
Open Doubles- 1st-Dean Fleer, Sean Palmer, 2nd-Colt Belmonte, Zach Stapel, T4- Jeff Garlough/Jeff Olson, Kyle Olson/Joe Kilbourn
Women's Singles Cricket- 1st- Sonja Olson, 2nd-Carrie Keays, T4-Michele Olson, Angie Cramer
Men's Singles Cricket- 1st-Dean Fleer, 2nd-Sean Palmer, T4-Royce Holm, Chris Cronce
Mixed Doubles- 1st-Joey Olson/Sonja Olson, 2nd-Kyle Olson/Michele Olson, T4-Jeff Olson/Susie Aguvluk, Dean Fleer/Trista Fetchonhier
Saturday Blind Draw- 1st-Jeff Garlough/Dean Fleer, 2nd-Carrie Keays/Joe Kilbourn, T4-Michele Olson/Joey Olson, Jonny Wilson/Paul Muir
Women's Singles 501- 1st-Sonja Olson, 2nd-Trista Fetchonhier, T4-Michele Olson, Angie Cramer
Men's Singles 501 - 1st-Dean Fleer, 2nd-Sean Palmer, T4-Joey Olson, Zach Stapel
If there is a darting venue that has better scenery than Squirez in Juneau, it is Wasabi's in Homer. Wasabi's sits about 10 miles down East End Road in Homer, Alaska and overlooks Katchemak Bay. Wasabi's is owned by Colt Belmonte and Dali Frazier, who are also members of the Homer Dart League (HDL). In past years, the tournament has been downstairs, but was staged upstairs this year, allowing us to check out this view all weekend long. Our weekend began with an American Darts Organization National Qualifier for the U.S. Team Program. Susie Aguvluk and I will make the trip to Denver, CO in October to represent Alaska in the national event.
We have seen a handful of young players at our leagues in Kenai and at our tournaments. Austin Diaz, Kyle Olson, and Jonny Wilson (pictured above) hung with us for most of the weekend, but didn't make it for the Sunday morning event. A lot of players skipped out on Sunday as we recovered from a late night and the loss of an hour when time jumped ahead an hour during the blind draw event for daylight savings time.
After the national qualifier, we had a couple hours to kill before the blind draw event, and drove back to town to check into our hotel. Abe Alborn is the owner of King's Landing Hotel and gave us darters a killer deal on rooms for the weekend. Abe is also a member of the Homer Dart League. Most of the players stayed here, which made it real convenient for getting to and from Wasabi's.
It's been no secret that the level of participation in this annual tourney has declined in the past couple years. Colt and Dali invited Michele and I to run the tournament so that they could concentrate on operating the bar and restaurant and have time to play darts. This worked out beautifully! Colt and Dali had all their equipment set up before I got there. I didn't have to haul down any of my stuff and set it up, which is quite a bit of work for me at most of the events I run. Once Michele and I got there, Colt and Dali didn't have to do anything with the tournament. For the first time in years, Colt played in every event. Thanks to K&L Distributers, we had some awesome door prizes that we gave away over the weekend. The Friday night blind draw saw our highest number of local players (nine). I met HDL members, Leah Hernandez, Bob Hibdon, and Jim McClay for the first time.
Like the Juneau tournament a few weeks ago, several players stuck around after Sunday's 501 singles to help Colt teardown the equipment and convert the room back to a restaurant. Michele and I stayed to visit with Colt, Dali and Zach Stapel until almost 7:00 PM before starting our 90 minute drive back to Kenai. We discussed a couple changes for next year and settled on March 9-11, 2018 for the 26th End of the Road dart tourney.
Zach Stapel (pictured on the left) has been a regular at the tourney for a while now. We also see him at our Kenai blind draws once in a while. Zach even made the trip to Stamford, CT a couple years ago to represent Alaska in the ADO Allstars event.
We also had Paul Muir (pictured below) make the trip to Homer from Nikiski. It's been a while since we've seen Paul at a dart tournament. Paul is the guy who got me into darts in 1989 and married Michele and I in 1995.