Montana State Singles Handball

Missoula, MT – April 14-16, 2023

Defending champion Justin Balkenbush won his tenth Montana State Singles Handball Championship Sunday at the Peak in Missoula. Balkenbush, a Conrad native and Billings resident, defeated Shelby native Pete Svennungsen of Spokane. The final was a thriller from start to finish, with Balkenbush pulling out a 11-9 victory in the tiebreaker after splitting the first two games with identical 21-18 scores. Only Montana handball legends Jim Ritter and Bill Peoples have won more Montana Open Singles titles than Balkenbush, with 19 and 15.

Billings’ Mike Meyer defeated East Helena’s John Larson 21-18, 21-7 to defend his crown in the Diamond Masters division for players 70 and over. It is Meyer’s sixth Montana age group state title.

Jeff Armstrong kept the strong Billings showing going by defeating Missoula’s Kirk Johnson 21-15, 19-21, 11-1 to defend his title in the Super Golden Masters for players 60 and over.

Butte’s Don Foley won the combined Masters/Golden Masters division for players over 40 by going 3-0 in the round robin format.

Austin Meyers of Bozeman defeated Les Seago of Emigrant 21-15, 21-4 to win the A division.

Missoula’s Chris Riley won the B division by going 2-0 in the round robin bracket.

Complete results:


First Round – Moe Johnson, Missoula d. Marcus Madrazo, Butte; Sean Sandau, Missoula d. Eric Schmidt, Missoula

Quarterfinals – Justin Balkenbush, Billings d. Moe Johnson, Missoula; Sam Sottosanti, Butte d. Austin Meyers, Bozeman; Brett Badovinac, Butte d. Les Seago, Emigrant; Pete Svennungsen, Spokane, WA d. Sean Sandau, Missoula

Semifinals – Balkenbush d. Sottosanti 21-13, 21-10; Svennungsen d. Badovinac 21-12, 21-3

Final – Balkenbush d. Svennungsen 18-21, 21-18, 11-9

Diamond Masters (70+)

Quarterfinals – Mike Meyer, Billings d. Chris Polinis, Missoula; Frank Cikan, Bozeman d. Steve Birrell, Bozeman; John Larson, East Helena d. Paul Polzin, Missoula; Rick Harrington, Missoula d. Wally Page, Florence

Semifinals – Meyer d. Cikan; Larson d. Harrington

Final – Meyer d. Harrington 21-18, 21-7

Super Golden Masters (60+)

Quarterfinals – Don Schmidt, Missoula d. Steve Birrell, Bozeman; Mike Hitchcock, Butte d. Frank Cikan, Bozeman

Semifinals – Jeff Armstrong, Billings d. Don Schmidt, Missoula; Kirk Johnson, Missoula d. Mike Hitchcock, Butte 21-8, 21-12

Third – Hitchcock d. Schmidt

Final – Armstrong d. Johnson 21-15, 19-21, 11-1

Masters/Golden Masters (40+/50+)

1st – Don Foley, Butte (3-0) d. Les Seago, Emigrant 21-18, 19-21, 11-9; d. Chris Riley, Missoula 21-5, 21-7; d. Sean Sandau, Missoula 21-17, 17-21, 11-9

2nd – Les Seago, Emigrant (2-1) d. Sandau ; d. Riley

3rd – Sean Sandau, Missoula (1-2) d. Riley 21-5, 21-6

A Division

Quarterfinals – Marcus Madrazo, Butte d. Sean Sandau, Missoula

Semifinals – Austin Meyers, Bozeman d. Marcus Madrazo, Butte; Les Seago, Emigrant d. Eric Schmidt, Missoula

Final – Meyers d. Seago 21-15, 21-4

B Division (round robin)

1st – Chris Riley, Missoula (2-0) d. Gage Guldseth, Butte; d. Drew Badovinac, Butte by injury default

2nd – Drew Badovinac, Butte (1-1) d. Gage Guldseth

Diamond Masters Consolation

Semifinals – Steve Birrell, Bozeman d. Chris Polinis, Missoula; Paul Polzin, Missoula d. Wally Page, Florence

Final – Birrell d. Polzin