Saturday, June 05, 2021

Absolutely CRUM-trulescent

"It is like looking into the face of God, and having him stare back and say, 'You are my most wondrous creation.'" That quote from the 2001 Saturday Night Live skit Inside the Actor's Studio was of course meant to be over-the-top and played for comedic effect. 

But when one looks at 2021 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion Jessica Crum's bracket, no other description seems to suffice. In fact, if anything, the description is too staid. Jessica delivered a truly brilliant -- no, a truly Crumtrulescent performance, to borrow another line from Will Ferrell. 

Jessica was one of just eight players to pick Baylor, a move that proved the deciding factor, but she got to the finals through the strength of picking favorites. She is the only champion in Chippens history to win without earning any underdog points. 

Jessica said her Baylor pick was "pure luck," but that pick and her pick of Houston into the Final Four (she was one of just 10 players to do so) set her apart from a field that largely favored Big Ten teams. "I enjoyed watching Baylor growing up," she said. "They usually have a good team." 

Jessica also credited her success to the fact her favorite team, Kentucky, didn't make the tournament. UK not being in the field, "was probably the reason I did so well," she said. "Otherwise they would have been selected as winning everything as I usually do!"   

A 20-year military veteran, Jessica was introduced to the Chippens tournament through fellow military veteran Bone. Jessica said she enjoyed beating Bone this year more than anyone else, "but I believe I enjoy beating him every year," she added.  

Jessica said her plans for the Grand Prize T-Shirt were to "display it proudly in the office" next to her college diploma. "That is where it rightfully belongs as one of my greatest accomplishments," she said. 

As for next season, there is no doubt Jessica will be game to defend her title. She said she loves "the friendly but fierce competition each year." Jessica admits the "pressure will be on" in 2022, which will be her eighth Chippens season, but she claims she's "up for the challenge." 

The Champ, who joined the military at age 17, showed no signs of intimidation with her final words. "Come and get me!" she said. 

Congratulations to Jessica Crum, a Champion For The Ages. 

Other Notable Results:
  • This year's Champ was correct that she regularly defeats Bone (this year marks four in a row and five of the last seven), but Bone still holds one piece of bragging rights: His 191 points in 2009 rank as third all-time, just one point behind Nicholas A. Schultz. Interestingly, the two players finished tied for points this year. Unfortunately for both, it was at the bottom of the standings, in 116th and 117th place, respectively.   
  • Speaking of ties, there were two ties in the standings between husband and wife pairs. In each case, the lady won the tie-breaker. The contest between former champs KLoco and ILL - BIG10 People's Champ was decided on the first tie-breaker, pick percentage. The contest between K8Burst and Candle Guy had to go all the way to the second tie-breaker, most teams in the Sweet 16. Still, a win is a win. 
  • Speaking of ties again, the contest between not going to win (J. Charak) and not the winners (Whitey) had to go to the first tie-breaker, with Whitey ... winning (at least that much). In the big picture, both players were correct as they finished 49th and 50th, respectively. Both players also beat Winner of shirt, who did not win the shirt and finished in 98th. 
  • Ok, one more tie story. Señor Wences edged out his brother-in-law Lifeguard LeolaRamona on the first tie-breaker for 47th place. Not top performances for either, but still entertaining like watching two guys fall over the finish line in a sack race, or like one of those sausage races between innings. 
  • Congrats to second place finisher and top rookie Big Al (no, NOT THAT Big Al of Peoria . . . don't Google that). Her pick of Cleveland State over Houston in the first round proved a little too ambitious--common rookie mistake--but we look forward to more great things from her in the future. 
  • Congrats to third place finisher Better than last year. The 2014 Champion is now one of just four players with multiple top 3 finishes. Only fellow former champ Betty Rumble has three top three finishes. 
  • It was a bittersweet ending for Robert DuPrau, who finished just one point and just one spot out of the prizes in fourth place. Still, the 10-year veteran used his strong performance to move up the list in All-Time Pick Percentage. 
  • Congrats to theRabbit and BrutalBrutis, two longtime tournament vets who each notched their fourth top-10 finish. Only five players in history have that many. 
  • A heartfelt thank you to all the players who contributed to this year's fundraising effort for St. Jude, and congrats to the three players who took home prizes for their generous donations and excellent play: politicalgrrl, The Breeze, and Cotter
  • Cotter, especially, had a successful tournament with a 13th place finish. Once described as a spring-loaded albino gopher, the 2013 Champ is tunneling his way straight to the top of the All-Time Records. Brandon Gamble retained his top spots in All-Time Average Place and All-Time Average Points, but Cotter moved up to second place in the former category and to third place in the latter. These two titans have a rivalry that makes Borg vs. McEnroe look like Siegried and Roy. We can't wait to see what next year brings.  
  • Congrats to SAME OL' G. Already named Central Illinois Woman of the Year, the eighth-year player completely one-upped herself by finishing 36th in the 2021 Chippens Tournament Challenge. That is her BEST FINISH EVER and worthy of another feature article in the alumni mag! 
  • The Comeback Player Award goes to rookie Tammois, who only had 16 correct picks in the first 32, but surged over the final rounds to finish 26th . . . 13 places ahead of early leader AK.
  • Alley oop I did it again . . . This is for you just to see if you're reading. Good job finishing 78th. 
  • Finally, congrats to Catch me if you can! She was one of just five players to put three teams in the Final Four. Her performance moved her up to 19th in the All-Time Average Place list and 15th on the career points list. She said this year was just a preview of what she expects will be a dominating performance next year. She also said she loves tournament time because it means she gets to go to bed alone and spend more time with the kids. 
Thanks to all competitors for another great season! See you next year! 

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