RAWLINS – The clean, green-felted tables are ready to go. Local pool sharks are undoubtedly well-practiced. World-class players, meanwhile, have flocked from practically every corner of the world to be here.
Today marks the start of the annual Andy Cloth High Desert Shootout, a relatively young but respected Wyoming pool tournament that attracts hundreds of competitors to the City of Rawlins, from juniors to professionals.
“It’s a big thing,” said Monte Thayer, a former Wyoming State 8-Ball champion and event organizer, “bringing in this many players.”
This year, in fact, Mosconi Cup champion Shane Van Boening will literally leave the Kremlin Cup pool tourney is Russia to compete in the High Desert Shootout.
“That’s a really big thing,” Thayer said. “He’s going from Moscow to Rawlins.”
Other big-time names participating in this year’s events include former Mosconi Cup MVP Rodney Morris, U.S. top pool pro Corey Deuel and, among others, Mike “Tennessee Tarzan” Massey, the famous trick-shot artist and American billiards legend who’s been immortalized in various Hollywood films and pop culture.
Amid the tournament, Massey, master of the “Miller Lite just showin’ off” shot, will even be putting on an art trick shot event at 4 p.m. on Saturday, which all depends on how well he’s shooting in the tournament.
As a bonus, amateurs will have a chance to pair up with the greats, as a Pro-Am Scotch Doubles event begins 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Jeffrey Memorial Community Center, located at 315 W. Pine St.
Meanwhile, competition for the main events is fierce.
Morris, who beat out Deuel to claim last year’s Masters 8-Ball division, looks to defend his title against the best players in the world.
As for last year’s local top finishers, Rawlins’ Joe Jimenez and Paul Cooper took second and third place respectively in the 2018 Sportsman’s 8-Ball event.
Last year also saw Saratoga’s own Baily Glode tie for first place in the junior intermediate division, while Rawlins shooter Lukas Howe took fourth in Peewee.
According to Thayer, this year’s High Desert Shootout once again kicks off on a different sort of green. Starting at 11 a.m. today, all shooters will flock to Rochelle Ranch Golf Course for a shotgun round of golf.
Once the scorecards are all filled, the day will end at Rifleman Club Bar in downtown Rawlins, where a pro player shootout exhibition takes place.
Additionally, Friday will end with a bang as a live performance by “Wyoming’s One Man Band” Chad Lore at the Rifleman at 10:30 p.m.
Calcutta events will also occur Thursday and Saturday, while main tourney play starts Friday and ends Saturday.
Thayer thanks all the sponsors and community members involved with help making the High Desert Shootout happen, which include a volunteer crew from the Sinclair Refinery Company and the Lion’s Club, who’ll be manning the beverages and concessions.
Thayer also invites everyone to come and watch some world-class pool.
“Kick back and watch some of the best players in the world play right here in our own backyard,” Thayer said. “Right here in Rawlins, Wyoming, America.”
Full event schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 25
10:30 a.m.-11 a.m. – Golf registration (Rochelle Ranch Golf Course)
11 a.m. – Shotgun start for golf tourney
4 p.m. – Golf Tourney Awards Luncheon (Rochelle Ranch Golf Course)
7 p.m.-10 p.m. – Pro Player Shootout Exhibition (Rifleman Bar)
Thursday, Sept. 26
11 a.m.-10 p.m. – Pro Tourney Registration
2:45 p.m. – Pre-tourney announcements
3 p.m. – Call first Scotch Doubles matches (Jeffrey Center)
4 p.m. – Calcutta for Masters Saratoga Tourney (Jeffrey Center)
5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. – Continue with Scotch Doubles tourney
Friday, Sept. 27
10 a.m.-5 p.m. – Pool Tourney Registration
1:45 p.m. – Pre-tourney announcements
2 p.m. – Call first Classic matches
3:30 p.m. – Call first Expert matches
5 p.m. – Call first Sportsman and Masters matches
10:30 p.m. – Special live music “Wyoming’s One Man Band” Chad Lore (Rifleman)
Saturday, Sept. 28
8:30 p.m.-11 p.m. – Pool tourney continues (see brackets for match times)
Noon – Begin sign-ups for Hard Luck tourneys & Kelly Bourdeon Juniors’ tourney
4 p.m. – Mike Massey Trick Shot Exhibition (pending his availability)
5 p.m. – Calcutta for All Division Finalists and Master’s 8-Ball
7 p.m. – Call first finals matches for Sportsman, Classic and Expert divisions
7:30 p.m. – Call first matches for Hard Luck 9-Ball tourney
8:30 p.m. – Call first matches for Hard Luck Saratoga tourney
9:30 p.m. – Min tourneys and Jeffrey Center (upon request)
Sunday, Sept. 29
8 a.m. – Continue Sportsman, Classic and Expert finals matches (see brackets for times)
9 a.m. – Continue Hard Luck tourneys
9:30 a.m. – Call first Masters 8-Ball matches
11 a.m. – Juniors tourney