Members of a Fraternal Order of Eagles pool team based in Holdrege dedicated their performance at the state tournament to a former captain who died last year.
Those Guys, a tournament team from Eagles Aerie 3132 in Holdrege, won first place Sunday during the annual Fraternal Order of Eagles State Pool Tournament at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
Travis Mayo of Beaver Crossing took over as the team’s captain after the death of Rich Araujo of Minden, who died in a single-vehicle crash east of Kearney in August 2018.
“We wanted to make this year about him,” he said. “It feels good to be able to attribute what we did to him.”
Mayo said Araujo captained the team for about five years and their highest finish in prior tournaments had been fourth. He said it felt surreal as the team continued to rack up points to secure the win among such great teams.
Another team member, Tom Kibler of Lincoln, said last year was particularly tough as the team ended up in around 50th place.
“It’s nice to come back and win one for him,” he said.
Flocking from all areas of the state, 134 teams participated in the 8-ball tournament. Each team had eight players, divided into four sets of partners, for 1,072 total players. Competitors played 16 rounds with games scored on a 15-point system based on the number of opposing balls remaining on the table.
Never Give Up, a Fremont team, took second place, followed by Can U Make 1 from McCook in third place.
The main fairgrounds building was filled with 72 pool tables shipped in specifically for the tournament. Team tables surrounded the perimeter, most with cue racks set up along the outer edge.
Eagles State Madam President Cheri Bollig of Columbus said the tournament serves as the main annual fundraiser for the Eagles. This year, funds raised from the event are going to help purchase a device to help veterans.
Ekso Bionics has developed a powered exoskeleton bionic device that can be worn to help with stroke and spinal cord rehabilitation, according to the company’s website.
Bollig said the Eagles plan to purchase one or two of the devices to be used at rehabilitation facilities in Nebraska.
She said her husband is a disabled veteran and the Eagles state president, David “Hondo” Locke, is also a veteran.
“Hondo and I heard about this and thought it was a great idea,” she said. “We want to help veterans at all costs.”