Aiken has played host to its fair share of sporting events. In addition to area high school teams as well as the athletic programs at USC Aiken, the staff at the Aiken Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism has worked diligently to make Aiken a destination for championship events.
This weekend, Aiken will add another event to its résumé, as it will be the site of the South Carolina Championships of Cornhole.
The state championship will be held at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Friday and Saturday. The event is the official American Cornhole Organization state tournament, established to crown the best singles and doubles cornhole players in South Carolina. The winners will advance to July’s final bracket at the ACO World Championships in Charleston, West Virginia.
“We recruited this event. They held a regional in Rock Hill last year, and we told (the ACO) we were interested in hosting the state championship,” said Jeff Metz, the athletic superintendent for the Aiken Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. “We are really excited to serve as the host for the South Carolina Championships of Cornhole. Odell Weeks Recreation Center will be a great venue, and hopefully we have a good turnout.”
Metz said he’s optimistic that 50 to 60 out-of-town participants will be in attendance. The event is open to everybody, and Aiken residents can register to compete for free on Saturday. Interested parties should use the coupon code AIKEN when signing up at http://americancornhole.com/tournaments/state-championships-cornhole/state-championships-cornhole-sc to avoid a registration fee. And they shouldn’t waste much time, as the tournament is only open to 160 participants.
For the uninitiated, cornhole is similar to horseshoes, except competitors use wooden boxes and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes. That makes it much easier to play in just about any location. Cornhole is especially popular for those tailgating at sporting events and concerts, where players toss a 12 oz. corn bag 30 feet toward the box.
While this weekend’s event is open to players looking to have fun, there are also going to be a good amount of participants on hand who are solely focused on winning.
“Casual people are definitely welcome to come out or sign up to play, but we’ll also have competitors that are very serious,” Metz said. “These folks can put a bean bag in the hole very consistently.”
Expect these players, many who could be dressed in team shirts or uniforms, to be among the contestants who need the fewest turns to reach the winning score of 21 points. A corn bag in the hole scores three points, while one on the platform scores a single point.
The tournament will begin on Friday, when it will run from 5 to 11 p.m. It will resume on Saturday for a full day of competition, running from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The format will be a traditional double elimination tournament.
The champions will win a customized championship jersey, be profiled and listed on their state landing page, as well as be awarded a Golden Ticket and advance placement in the ACO World Championships bypassing early qualifying rounds and entering into the final field for the ACO World Title.
The first-year event is free of charge for spectators. Metz said that’s part of the plan to help this championship develop into an even bigger happening.
“The event is gaining more interest,” Metz said. “It’s something we hope to grow.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: South Carolina Championships of Cornhole
WHERE: H. Odell Weeks Recreation Center
WHEN: Friday, Saturday
AT STAKE: ACO Singles, Doubles State Championship and a berth in July’s World Championships
To register, or for more information, call 803-642-7761, or go to http://americancornhole.com/tournaments/state-championships-cornhole/state-championships-cornhole-sc and use the coupon code AIKEN