Mud volleyball champions get down and dirty
     2012-07-19      By Elizabeth Gross    elizabethgross@geringcitizen.com
How do you create a wildly successful Oregon Trail Days event? You dig two very large dirt pits and fill them with water. Add two volleyball nets and you have Mud Volleyball. The Mud Volleyball Tournament was one of the many events that took place at Five Rocks Amphitheater this Oregon Trail Days. Two water-filled courts stood next door to the carnival for mud-slinging, splashy good fun.

The tournament was the brainchild of committee member Rebecca Shields. Shields had seen mud volleyball tournaments held at other community festivals similar to Oregon Trail Days. The event was created to celebrate the City of Gering’s 125th birthday celebration. “I originally wanted 12 teams, since we only had 2 courts to play on, but after having tremendous response I stopped at 17 teams, so I could make the bracket,” said Shields. Shields had to turn people away. “I could have easily had 30 teams in the tournament,” said Shields.

Competition was fierce among the teams, with many players having college-level volleyball experience.
The winning team for this year’s tournament was Pro Sets, comprised of Stacie Meisner, Whitney Roth, Tj Morrow, Jared Schwab, Derek Donovan, Ashten Winkler and Kristen Plegge. The tournament saw the return of former Gering volleyball standout Stacie Meisner who played for the WNCC Cougars for two years, during which time the team held the national championship, then she went on to play at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Meisner found out about the event from her cousin Whitney Roth, who also played at WNCC and now plays volleyball at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. “She told me she was putting together a team and asked me if I wanted to play,” said Meisner.

A chance to play in a mud volleyball tournament was a great opportunity. Meisner had heard of mud volleyball tournaments in her current home of Anchorage, Alaska. “I always wanted to try it out but never got a chance to play in it,” said Meisner. So when asked to play on her cousin’s team, she was game.

For Meisner, Oregon Trail Days is a chance to be home, see the family, and reconnect with friends. “It was a lot of fun, everyone there had a great time,” said Meisner, “I think it was a great addition to the Oregon Trail Days events, a lot of people were out there and I think it’s only going to grow in the next couple years.”
There was such an overwhelming response that the Mud Volleyball Tournament has been added to the permanent line-up of Oregon Trail Days events. “This was such a fun tournament. I am excited to keep it growing annually,” said Shields, “We had teams of all ages participate.” Shields said that if there is enough interest next year, they will likely have a junior division for grade school and middle school teams.

The event could not have been a success without some help. Shields would like to thank Ron Ernst, City of Gering Park and Recreation staff, Russ DeHaven from Paul Reed Construction, and Mike’s Husker Stuff who donated all of the trophies and T-shirts.
Here are the top three teams from the first Oregon Trail Days Mud Volleyball Tournament:

1st Place, Pro Sets, Members: Whitney Roth, Stacie Meisner, Ashten Winkler, TJ Morrow, Jared Schwab, Derreck Donovan and Kristen Plegge.
2nd Place, The Roots, Members: Jennie Fenner, Anna Shields, Chris Thompson, Cody Thompson, Kim Derr and Joci Thompson.
3rd Place, The Fighting Chupacabras, Members: Phillip Schmidt, Brock Nelsen, Jean Gutierrez, Kurtis Doremus, Taylor Rung, Paige Traynowicz and Gage Winkler.

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