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Players take aim at Vegas championship

Greg Pierce, left, is the operator for the Northland APA league, and Chris Oyler of Richmond is one of hundreds of area residents who participate in it. Both men have competed in Las Vegas. (Photo by Sara Seidel/Richmond News)

Greg Pierce, left, is the operator for the Northland APA league, and Chris Oyler of Richmond is one of hundreds of area residents who participate in it. Both men have competed in Las Vegas. (Photo by Sara Seidel/Richmond News)

By Sara Seidel/Richmond News

Practice: It’s how football players get to the Super Bowl, amateur athletes get to the Olympics and singers get to Carnegie Hall.

Recreational pool players get to their Holy Grail – the APA National Championships in Las Vegas – the same way. One Richmond player’s already done it, and a Northland player is trying to make it possible for other Ray Countians to reach the same goal.

Chris Oyler’s the player who competed in the American Poolplayers Association singles tournament this spring and who hopes to return in 2014. And Greg Pierce is the Northland APA league operator who wants to establish a division in Richmond so others can give it a shot.

“There’s lots of opportunities” for beginners and skilled players, men and women, teams and individuals, Pierce said. “You don’t have to be a great pool player to participate.”

A cheerleader for the game, Pierce champions the varied aspects of the sport.

“It’s just good competition,” he said. “And it is an inexpensive, great social event.”

Currently in Richmond, pool players can join a house league at Our Place, but playing in it doesn’t lead to Vegas. Vegas hopefuls must participate and succeed in a given number of APA-sanctioned events to advance.

After participating in an APA league in Excelsior Springs, Oyler, for example, qualified at Side Pockets in Gladstone and went on to a regional competition held near Omaha, Neb., to earn his trip to Nevada. For 2014, he’s already won his qualifier to go on to compete in 8-ball singles competition at the regionals near Des Moines, Iowa.

Oyler is one of 26 Northland players already eligible for the regionals, Pierce said.

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