Pool team based out of Viking Pub in Adams qualifies for APA World Championships in 8-ball

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This story has been updated to correct that Zen's Pub was at the last two APA World Championships.

ADAMS — Berkshire County has been well represented at the American Poolplayers Association World Championships over the last several years. That trend is continuing in 2018.

The Stick It team, based out of the Viking Pub in Adams, has qualified for this year's championship in the 8-ball division, and the local team is set to fly out to Las Vegas to compete from Aug. 13 through 18 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino.

The team qualified for the APA event by winning the State Cup over Father's Day weekend at Ivory Billiards in Holyoke. Stick It also won a pair of Regionals titles to qualify for the state competition this year.

"We were the first team, actually, to [qualify for Vegas]" said Stick It captain Eric Carlson. "I was grabbing the trophy [celebrating] and everything."

Stick It is made up of Carlson, Todd Yeaton, Barbara Lesure, James Errichetto, Robert Francoeur, Shawn Roy, Dennis Fletcher and Mark Wasuk.

Roy went to last year's APA event, representing a team from Zen's in Pittsfield. Carlson got Roy to join with Stick It after last year's championship.

"We have good chemistry here," Roy said. "People stay. We click."

The current roster on Stick It has been together for over a year, but some members — including Yeaton and Francoeur — have been playing together for three-or-more years.

APA 8-ball pool is a team competition featuring head-to-head matchups. For each contest, the team chooses five players to compete in five separate matches, with three points up for grabs in each of the separate matches. A team can win by a maximum of 15 points.

Because APA pool is an amateur league, there are no professionals allowed, and each pool player is assigned a handicap number of 1 through 9. For Stick It, Francoeur has the highest handicap (7), while Wasuk and Lesure each have handicaps of 3.

In each game, teams have to combine the handicap totals over the five games to not equal more than 23. In essence, this keeps teams from fielding five players with handicaps of 7, against a team of 3-handicaps.

"It's not fun at all," Carlson said of trying to pick a team for each game. "Everybody is upset about who is playing. It's a headache."

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The team, though, supports Carlson's decisions — maybe with just a little pushback — and rallies around each other.

"Here's the thing, when one player loses, the person feels bad but we have the team to pick that person up," Roy said. "Not everybody is going to win, but if you play your best, that's why our team is what it is. We have good chemistry. "

Carlson noted that their 7-handicap, Francoeur, is the "teacher" on the team. Roy (a 5 handicap), meanwhile, brings the experience from playing in Vegas last year at the world championships. As the captain, Carlson noted that the trip to Vegas was even more rewarding because of his role.

"You made a promise to these guys that you could take this team and win it, and you do it. It's rewarding," Carlson said.

Stick It's trip to Vegas makes it three straight years that a pool team from Berkshire County has qualified for the world championships. For the previous two years, a team from Zen's qualified. In addition to the overall joy of qualifying, the bragging rights within Berkshire County were also rewarding.

"Oh, definitely. [It feels good] to be the top dog," Carlson said.

Stick It won two Regional events this year. The first Regional win qualified the team for the State Cup, and the second Regional win secured Stick It a bye at the state competition. With the upper hand established going in, Stick It became the first of six teams on the day to qualify for Las Vegas.

"I don't think we stopped screaming for a couple hours," Roy said. "There was another match going on, I think we totally messed up the guy playing."

Now, the stakes are raised even higher. While games can stretch out over hours are the Regional and State levels, the competition in Vegas means that Stick It could play from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every night for five days straight. Roy, a self-confessed lover of pool, said that after last year's event, he didn't want to look at a cue ball when he got home. Roy said he played 14 matches last year.

Add in a $25,000 prize for the winning team — Roy's squad made $6,000 as the fifth-place finisher last year — and a bigger, better pool of talent, and Stick It has its work cut out in an attempt to get in the money.

The team, though, is ready.

"The goal, really, was just to get to Vegas," Carlson said. "Now that we did it, now I want to compete."

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, at @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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