Action Challenge II Yields $20k Windfall for Van BoeningStrickland musters 63 in race to 100 defeat; verbally keeps crowd on their toes
by Paul Berg, InsidePOOL Magazine Staff
With a lot less banter and dramatics than his legendary opponent, Shane Van Boening quietly played brilliant 10-ball to triumph in The Action Challenge II over Earl Strickland. In the second main event staged by TheActionReport.com at the Qlympics in Louisville, Van Boening claimed a $20,000 winner-takes-all prize after posting his half himself, pulling away for a 100-63 victory on the third day of play. Strickland entertained with his mouth when he couldn’t with his cue, leaving the crowd in stitches on occasion and sometimes teetering over the bounds of good taste.
Starting the night’s play with a commanding 60-40 lead, Van Boening won the first five games to set the tone, getting away with a miss in the first rack, then breaking and running three before escaping Strickland’s defense for an easy combination to extend his advantage. “The Pearl” kept the margin from widening to 30 games for a time, as Van Boening’s amazing break finally faltered. During a stretch where Van Boening scratched on four out of six smashes and repeatedly came up dry, Strickland bantered about his own impending death, the Behnke clan seated behind Van Boening in support (the family troop of impressive playing teens from Iowa were referred to as “gremlins”), and teaching the young South Dakotan champion how to break in wet conditions after the match.
Despite his best efforts to narrow the gap, Strickland lagged behind in more than just breaking prowess during the match. Van Boening’s misses were rarer, and his defense was much tighter than Strickland’s throughout. Prior to becoming the reigning U.S. Open 9-Ball titlist this year, Van Boening had defeated Corey Deuel 100-70 in The First Action Challenge, and gained that margin 84-54 facing Strickland. The long trek for the cash was nearly over with the score 99-61, but Strickland earned one last reprieve and ran out from the 3ball, with a string of jokes for the crowd in between pocketed balls.
“I better start looking for a job,” Strickland said, “because I can’t make it in the pool world now.” Pausing briefly in his chatter to deposit the 10, Strickland gestured to Van Boening in his chair and added, “The Filipinos’ll get you.” Spectators continued to laugh at Strickland’s antics as the nastiness was past, and he rambled on about what Van Boening would have to handle for his country at the Mosconi Cup. Strickland then informed Van Boening he would show him the Filipino trick for not giving up all the shots after the break that had cost him so dearly and won another game from a cut-break, pocketing a 1-10 combination with ball in hand after the balls had been tied up in a great safety duel.
It would be Strickland’s last, as Van Boening made a cross-side bank on the 3 ball from a blown safety and ran out to close the epic match 100-63. Afterwards, Strickland spoke highly of Van Boening’s play and apologized to anyone he may have offended, stating that his comments made in the heat of battle don’t reflect his true feelings. His Mosconi Cup teammate expressed his admiration for the mighty legend, as Van Boening was his quiet, calm self, with a big wad of hundreds and a new crystal dish to add to his growing collection.
Tomorrow the Qlympics will draw to a close, as the BCAPL Men’s Open Singles and regional team 8-ball events on the bar tables reach their conclusion. Check back with InsidePOOLmag.com tomorrow for a summary of the results and payouts from the U.S. Open tournaments and the BCAPL events.