/notables/2017/04/next-stagg-bowl-host-has-lot-to-live-up-to

Next Stagg Bowl host has a lot to live up to

It's not just the history that has been created here that Division III will miss. It's also the dedication to and institutional knowledge of Division III by the City of Salem staff and hundreds of volunteers that have made the Stagg Bowl a success.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com 

 

At approximately 4 p.m. the night before Stagg Bowl XXXIX, Salem Stadium looked like this.
Photo by Pat Coleman, D3sports.com
Closer to midnight, it looked like this.
Photo by Shonna Brown 
And yet, by midday on game day, Salem Stadium looked like this, thanks to the City of Salem staff and volunteers.
D3sports.com photo

By Pat Coleman
D3sports.com

At 6:36 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 19, 2009, my mobile phone rang. In the depths of my attempts to sleep the night before the Stagg Bowl, I shook the cobwebs from my brain, saw the number on the screen, cleared my throat to attempt to sound professional, and answered the phone with one word.

“Delayed?”

“Delayed, yes, sir,” said the voice on the other end.

That voice belonged to Carey Harveycutter, then the director of civic facilities for the city of Salem, Va. We’d talked extensively the day before about the weather report for what was bearing down on Stagg Bowl XXXIX, and although I’d had my doubts about weather reports in general, this was dead on. And even though 18 inches of snow fell in less than 24 hours, Harveycutter and his dedicated group of city employees and even larger group of volunteers, that Stagg Bowl was played just a few hours after its scheduled start time.

That’s just one of many stories that can be told about the devotion of the City of Salem to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, to Division III football, to NCAA Division III student-athletes across a range of sports, and, in fact, to the National Collegiate Athletic Association itself.

And that is why the news that Salem will not host the Stagg Bowl or the Division III men’s basketball championships for the next four years, the events that made “the road to Salem” and “getting to Salem” the watchwords for more than a generation in NCAA Division III, is such a surprise.

That, in fact, is the dedication level that our next hosts must match in Texas and Ohio, as well as the men's basketball hosts in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Salem team, led by Harveycutter and John Saunders, and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference staff led by commissioner Brad Bankston and assistant commissioner J.J. Nekoloff, has flawlessly pulled off nearly 50 championships in football and men’s basketball alone, dozens more in other Division III sports and a bunch of Division II championships as well. This past fall, the NCAA threw men’s and women’s soccer championships at Salem with about two months' notice, trusting the experts to pull off two Division III championships after the NCAA moved a number of events out of the state of North Carolina.

And to say they “pulled off” those championships, like dozens of others, minimizes the actual work that is done each time a Walnut and Bronze trophy makes its way to Salem. Each championship has a banquet, and Salem has raised the bar for these events multiple times in the past decade.

The Salem-ODAC hosting contingent has elevated the experience in the stadium as well as outside of it. The locker rooms were upgraded, turf was installed, stadium signage has been improved, a stadium video board was introduced (and then upgraded as well). Parking lot tailgating was elevated to an art form, then transitioned into a parking lot pregame concert party. And they made similar upgrades to the Salem Civic Center for basketball hosting as well.

The Gagliardi Trophy presentation was presented at a small luncheon in Salem up until 2010, when it became a prime-time, live-streamed event with four finalists. And that involved the Salem Civic Center staff turning the arena over quickly between an afternoon luncheon and an evening awards ceremony. And the official Stagg Bowl team banquet, once a luncheon with a couple of speakers and a pep band, has become a true showcase for the teams and fans, with camera crews at the previous round of games to collect video that is used in a highlight package at the banquet, along with player and coach interviews.

That is the model that other championships have followed, such as women’s basketball. And the entirety of Division III has followed the Salem model in another area, too. The Division III championships’ relationship with Special Olympics spread from Salem to Indianapolis and now is part of the NCAA and Division III culture.

Carey Harveycutter helped make Division III championships what they are today, even championships Salem has never hosted.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com 

Even the officiating has changed under this group’s leadership. Previously, the Stagg Bowl was assigned like a bowl game, and Division III officials had no part in the game, as it was assigned to local crews that had varying levels of respect for the game and its importance. That is no longer the standard, and the top Division III crews from playoff evaluations have Salem as their destination as well.

This, of course, has all had at its heart one man who brought the idea of bidding for Division III’s biggest football game to his little town in Southwest Virginia. And it’s a heady legacy that echoes far beyond the Roanoke Valley.

And he’s done things for the NCAA as well, far beyond the requirements of a host city manager, serving as the NCAA’s liaison to championship events outside of the city, even outside the region.

“I don’t do things based on my legacy,” Harveycutter told me recently. “I do things for the City of Salem.”

The facility may be better. The weather might be better the third weekend of December. But the new host can’t simply manufacture a deep-seated love for Division III or replace decades’ worth of institutional knowledge.

Salem raised the bar so far that nobody involved with the game can even tell us where the bar used to be.

If future hosts can do the same, more power to them. But we all know who created the blueprint.

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 29, Westfield State 14
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Final
Moravian 20, at Juniata 17
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at Salve Regina 41, Endicott 14
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Final
at Thomas More 63, St. Vincent 13
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at Union 28, Hobart 23
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at Hamilton 27, Colby 24
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at Christopher Newport 27, William Paterson 19
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at Ithaca 35, St. John Fisher 10
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at Allegheny 44, Kenyon 35
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SUNY-Maritime 21, at Mount Ida 13
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Middlebury 43, at Bates 14
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at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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at Amherst 21, Wesleyan 17
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at Trinity (Conn.) 63, Bowdoin 14
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Husson 48, at Gallaudet 21
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Wabash 35, at Oberlin 21
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at Utica 34, Buffalo State 12
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Ohio Northern 7, at Muskingum 6
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at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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at Stevenson 26, Albright 23
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Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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at Albion 31, Alma 28
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at Guilford 45, Shenandoah 20
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Final
Plymouth State 40, at Massachusetts Maritime 14
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Wooster 58, at Hiram 25
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Washington and Lee 36, at Hampden-Sydney 6
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at Anna Maria 36, Alfred State 34
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Bridgewater 31, at Emory and Henry 23
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at FDU-Florham 49, Wilkes 31
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Lebanon Valley 17, at Misericordia 0
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at St. Lawrence 36, Rochester 14
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RPI 30, at Alfred 15
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at Curry 46, Nichols 16
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at Salisbury 42, Southern Virginia 0
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Ferrum 27, at Brevard 24
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Randolph-Macon 63, at Apprentice 14
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at Susquehanna 21, Ursinus 14
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Cortland 34, at Morrisville State 20
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at Trine 50, Hope 14
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Trinity (Texas) 27, at Sewanee 21
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Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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at Franklin and Marshall 56, Dickinson 0
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Tufts 21, at Williams 13
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Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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MIT 30, at Coast Guard 21
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at Norwich 24, Maine Maritime 22
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at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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Franklin 29, at Rose-Hulman 22
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John Carroll 48, at Capital 21
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at Manchester 28, Bluffton 21
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Final
Mount St. Joseph 71, at Anderson 27
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UW-Whitewater 20, at UW-River Falls 7
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Kean 26, at TCNJ 3
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at LaGrange 59, Greensboro 10
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at Worcester State 45, Mass-Dartmouth 40
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Muhlenberg 40, at McDaniel 13
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Final
Western New England 45, at Becker 0
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at Maryville (Tenn.) 35, Methodist 14
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Adrian 36, at Kalamazoo 22
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Final
Denison 31, at Ohio Wesleyan 20
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Final - OT
at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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Final
at Benedictine 43, Olivet 37
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Final
Birmingham-Southern 31, at Austin 24
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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Final
at UW-Stout 23, UW-Stevens Point 17
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Eureka 37, at MacMurray 20
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at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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Nebraska Wesleyan 14, at Buena Vista 13
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Lakeland 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 0
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at Aurora 28, Rockford 21
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at Concordia-Chicago 37, Concordia (Wis.) 17
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Final
at St. Olaf 29, Carleton 26
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at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Final
Westminster (Mo.) 24, at Greenville 14
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at Loras 44, Coe 38
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Monmouth 61, at Cornell 10
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 56, at North Park 0
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Northwestern (Minn.) 30, at Martin Luther 14
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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Final
at Lake Forest 70, Grinnell 6
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Final
at Millikin 56, Carroll 35
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Final
at Macalester 47, Ripon 31
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at St. Norbert 38, Lawrence 6
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Final
St. Scholastica 49, at Crown 21
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Final
at Iowa Wesleyan 24, Minnesota-Morris 17
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UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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Final
at WPI 41, Merchant Marine 7
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Final
at Centre 42, Rhodes 35
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Final
Hanover 49, at Earlham 14
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Final
at Chicago 55, Beloit 12
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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Final - OT
at Dubuque 28, Simpson 27
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at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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Final
at East Texas Baptist 68, Louisiana College 35
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at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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Final
Western Connecticut 27, at Bridgewater State 20
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Chapman 38, at La Verne 21
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Final
Pacific 17, at Lewis and Clark 7
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Pacific Lutheran 27, at Willamette 14
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at Whitworth 38, Puget Sound 23
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Redlands 42, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 25
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at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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Sul Ross State 52, at Howard Payne 15
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at Castleton 17, Dean 14
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N.C. Wesleyan 21, at Averett 15
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at Otterbein 37, Baldwin Wallace 29
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Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
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Carnegie Mellon 42, at Thiel 10
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at Illinois College 23, Knox 13
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10:00 PM
Whittier at Cal Lutheran
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Cancelled
Occidental at Pomona-Pitzer
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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Final
at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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Final
Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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Final
at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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Final
Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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Final
Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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Final
at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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Final - OT
at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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Final
St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Final
at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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Final
at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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Final
Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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Final
UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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Final
at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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Final
at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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Final
Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
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