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Local teen named national cornhole champion

Local teen named national cornhole champion

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Isaac Hurt

Issac Hurt at the cornhole championships.

It wasn’t a big surprise when the last name of this year’s ACO World Junior Championship was Hurt. This past summer Isaac Hurt joined his father, brother and sister and added another cornhole title to the family’s long list of wins both regionally and nationally.

The Hurt family is well on the way to becoming a legend in the sport of cornhole. Both patriarch Rex and son Kaleb have been at the top of the singles leaderboard and together dominated the doubles division before swapping partners. Rex has recently teamed up with daughter, Gracie to form a coed doubles team and brothers Kaleb and Isaac have recently become a force in doubles competition recently winning a title in SC.

Isaac is the most recent convert to the family passion. The 8th grader started playing in 2020 and like his dad and brother risen rapidly to the top in ACO competition. The win on July 25 in Manatee, Fl cemented the teen’s place on the leaderboard and the family’s dominance in the sport.

Isaac was the underdog coming in and beat the undefeated champion from Wisconsin in the best two of three games to become Junior World Champion.

“I was surprised when I got that far,” said Isaac.

The whole family is involved in the sport of cornhole. Rex, Kaleb, Gracie and Isaac all play in tournaments while mom Becky organizes the travel itinerary and photographs and encourages with the help of middle son Luke.

The Hurt’s venture into cornhole happened by chance. One afternoon at a friend’s birthday party Rex and Kaleb Hurt joined in on a backyard game of cornhole and were hooked. The pair came home decided to make a set of cornhole boards and then perfected their skills in the backyard before trying their hand at local cornhole tournaments. Before long they became a force to be reckoned with and dominated the local fair circuit. At the 2018 Greene County Fair the Hurts met a family from West Virginia who encouraged them to try their hand at a higher level of competition. The Hurts got involved with Shenandoah Valley Cornhole and were introduced to the American Cornhole Association.

The American Cornhole Organization is the governing body for the sport of cornhole. Formed in 2005 to regulate the sport, formalize the rules and promote cornhole tournaments throughout the country, the organization has developed a ranking system for cornhole players. Players in single, doubles and co-ed are ranked by their success in the current season’s competitions and the overall champion at the ACO World Championship tournament is crowned “King of Cornhole”.

Like any sport, tournaments recognized by the American Cornhole Organization events have specific rules including the list of approved bags. Boards have to be approved by the organization and judges undergo training. Unlike a backyard game, recognized tournaments are divided into sections by gender, experience level and age. The organization’s website, americancornhole.com lists upcoming tournaments, player rankings and links to game specifics.

Although Isaac is passionate about cornhole he tries to balance it with his other hobbies of hunting, fishing and riding four-wheelers.

“We usually have tournaments two weekends every month,” said Isaac. “I like having time on the other weekends to go fishing and hunting.”

According to Becky, cornhole has given the family opportunity to travel around the US as a family. They make tournaments a family adventure and frequently travel around the mid-atlantic region. The entire family experienced their first airplane ride traveling to the national tournament in Las Vegas, NV.

“We have so much fun when we travel,” said Hurt. “The first year we went to World, it was in Las Vegas. None of us had ever been on a plane before so it was a real adventure. Now, we regularly go all over, from Florida and South Carolina to Missouri.”

The family’s success has opened other opportunities too. Both Kaleb and Isaac were invited to a Missouri tournament this year where the winner had the chance to bring home $20,000. The tournament was by invitation only and was filmed for a television show. Kaleb is now sponsored by Local Canopys and 7/24 Baggers. For now, Isaac cannot be sponsored because of his age.

Isaac is focused on the future especially with his new doubles partner, brother, Kaleb.

“We have a tournament in October and then we’re working towards next year’s championship in Missouri,” he said.

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