MotherLode crowns its champions in Aspen
September 4, 2012
ASPEN – About 550 teams from all over the U.S. and Canada travel to Aspen each year for the MotherLode Volleyball Classic. With the announcement of another high-profile tournament taking place in Cincinnati on the same weekend, some were left to wonder how it would affect the draw in Aspen.
“Well, they did take some of the pros away from here,” said Leon Fell, the event’s director since 1981.
But Fell stressed that the MotherLode is not trying to compete with AVP, which hosted the event in Cincinnati.
“We’re not even that type of tournament. We’re the No. 1 grassroots tournament in the country, and that’s what we intend to stay,” he said. “It’s nice when we have the pros here, but you know something? With or without them, we have a wonderful event that the spectators love.”
The MotherLode drew a record crowd of spectators on Saturday, according to Fell, and the five-day event, which saw its 40th consecutive year unfold over Labor Day weekend, still managed to draw Olympic talent. Martin Reader and Josh Binstock, of Canada, who competed together this summer in London, appeared in the men’s open division. The duo lost in the semifinals to eventual winners Brian and Tim Bomgren, of Woodbury, Minn.
“It feels pretty incredible,” Brian Bomgren said of beating the Olympians. “That’s not what we planned when we came here last week, but it feels great.”
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After winning a three-set match against the Canadians, the Bomgren brothers defeated Tim Wooliver and Colin Kaslow, of Austin, Texas, in another tight three sets to claim the men’s open division final.
The women’s open finals ended in two sets. Laryssa Mereszczak and Andrea Peterson, of California, defeated Traci Walsh and Helen Farr, of Salt Lake City.
“It’s the best feeling. Aspen’s a great place,” said Mereszczak, who’s competed at the MotherLode five times.
But it’s not just athletes who travel to Aspen for the event. Many of the players bring entourages with them. Adam Holt, surrounded by a handful of friends, traveled from Hermosa Beach, Calif., for the MotherLode.
“This is the MotherLode – the MotherLode of all things,” said Holt, whose girlfriend, Jenelle Koester, competed in the women’s open division. “I think Aspen in general has a special addiction to people’s hearts. Once you step foot in this town, you’re hooked.”
Melissa Pavelka, of Davenport, Iowa, has been to the MotherLode 12 times. She competed in the grass division and said the skill level for the competition has increased over the years.
Fell estimates the event brings between 3,000 and 4,500 people into town directly related to the event. He said only 17 to 19 percent of the field is from Colorado and that the rest come from all over, including New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Utah and California.
“This is a national event. This is not a regional event,” Fell said.