WC cornhole duo: Never give up on your dream


By Mitch Blankespoor - Wilmington College



Wilmington College's Gabe Dolen and Austin Wampler.

Wilmington College's Gabe Dolen and Austin Wampler.


If you have a dream, go for it. This was the mantra for a pair of Wilmington College student-athletes.

“I got into contact with Bernie Nabors from the American Cornhole League (ACL) having found out there was a college tournament online,” said Wampler. “I knew it was something Gabe Dolen, my partner, and I wanted to do.”

In order to get into the college championship with the quarterfinals on being streamed on ESPN, the two needed to earn a berth by winning a qualifying tournament. The American Cornhole League holds qualifying tournaments throughout the country, most often in conjunction with important NCAA Division I football games. The closest option was in Columbus on the weekend of Oct. 29-31, highlighted by Ohio State hosting Penn State.

Unfortunately for Dolen and Wampler, commitments as football and cross country student-athletes prevented them from attending.

Luckily, the pair’s persistence paid off.

“Gabe and I went to a local tournament in Mount Orab and the regional director who was running the event told us the championships were looking for one more entry,” Wampler said. “She was able to get us the final bid into the field.”

Dolen and Wampler traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C. as one of approximately 55 doubles teams competing. The tournament began with a six qualifying games round-robin style, and the Wilmington duo finished with a 4-2 record and earned the No. 6 overall seed for the knockout stages.

“The two games we lost were quite close with the other four being very convincing wins,” said Wampler. “We certainly had a lot of confidence as the head-to-head bracket began.”

Dolen and Wampler earned a bye in the first round. They then matched up against a team from Oklahoma State. After beating the Cowboys, they played Florida State on the ACL Digital Network and beat the Seminoles 21-0 in five rounds. That win put the two into the quarterfinals, where national televised coverage began.

“To make it on national television was definitely our main goal,” Wampler said. “We knew it would be a big impact on not only us as individuals, but our college and our local communities as well. We beat a bunch of major schools to get there.”

Decked out in their custom Wilmington College jerseys, Dolen and Wampler’s opponents in the quarterfinals was a team from Northwest Missouri State as the only matchup of non-major NCAA Division I schools in the quarterfinal round. The duo dug themselves out of two four-point deficits (4-0 and 10-6) to battle back to a 10-10 tie. The game came down to the final round and the final bag where the Bearcats converted and the Quakers didn’t. Southwest Missouri State handily beat Texas A&M in the semifinals and lost to a team from Tennessee in the finals.

“It was a really cool experience to be there and give our college some notoriety while at it,” said Wampler. “We custom-made Wilmington College jerseys that were shown on ESPN. That’s pretty cool.”

For Dolen, the opportunity to complete on the biggest stage in any sport doesn’t come often. He hopes to return and represent Wilmington College at the event next year.

“I will need to find a partner with Austin graduating,” said Dolen. “He leaves big shoes to fill for whomever I partner up with, but hopefully we can come back and finish even higher.”

Wilmington College’s Gabe Dolen and Austin Wampler.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/01/web1_WC_Cornhole-2.jpgWilmington College’s Gabe Dolen and Austin Wampler.

By Mitch Blankespoor

Wilmington College

Mitch Blankespoor is director of Athletic Communications and an adjunct professor at Wilmington College

Mitch Blankespoor is director of Athletic Communications and an adjunct professor at Wilmington College