Shaun Wilkie has chalked up his fair share of tournament victories over the years, dating back to our first recorded awareness of his presence 20 years ago, when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in Pikesville, MD. His first recorded victory in an event came two years later on that same tour. Since that time, he’s gone on to win events on the Action Pool Tour (APT; lots of them), the Blaze Tour, the Mezz Pro Am Tour, the Predator Pro Am Tour, the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and various State of Virginia championships. With two exceptions, however, he’s had a difficult time securing a victory at a tournament with “Maryland” in its official title. He came close four times last year, finishing as runner-up in the MD State 10-Ball, 9-Ball Bar Table, and 9-Ball Championships and third in the MD State 8-Ball Championships. The two exceptions in this ‘drought’ was a victory in the Maryland State 8-Ball, two years ago and a victory in the Maryland Open, eight years ago.
Wilkie ended his extended Maryland State drought with a victory at the 2020 Mezz Cues Maryland State Bar Table 8-Ball Championships on the weekend of February 8-9. He went undefeated through the field of 105 entrants, at the event, hosted by Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
Wilkie and long-time opponent Rick Molineiro battled twice for this title. Molineiro’s career, while not as illustrious or as successful as Wilkie’s, began, in our records, with a 5th place finish on the Planet Pool Tour in 2001. Like Wilkie, Molineiro’s a regular competitor on the Action Pool Tour and also like Wilkie, has found limited success in Maryland, although he did finish third at this event last year.
They met first in the hot seat, once Wilkie had disposed of his winners’ side semifinal opponent, Tom D’Alfonso 6-2 and Molineiro had defeated another APT veteran, Steve Fleming, 6-4 in the other one. In their first of two, they battle to double hill before Wilkie prevailed to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Fleming ran right into Kristina Tkach, the young Russian woman, who’s a strong competitor in the ‘stable’ of Roy’s Basement. Tkach had lost her third-round match to Wilkie and was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She had recently eliminated Del Sim, double hill, and Roger Haldar 6-4 to draw Fleming. D’Alfonso drew Eddie Abraham, who’d recently defeated Tom Zippler and Shane Wolford, both 6-4.
Tkach eliminated the Action Pool Tour’s 2018 Tour Champion and last year’s runner-up, Steve Fleming 6-1. She was joined in the quarterfinals by Abraham, who’d defeated D’Alfonso 6-3. In a double hill quarterfinal, Tkach prevailed and advanced to meet Molineiro in the semifinals.
Molineiro was arguably playing ‘above his weight’ in the semifinals; up against an opponent with four event victories last year alone, to include a win on the APT, downing Chris Bruner, the tour’s #1 competitor at the time, in the hot seat and finals. Had Chris not won the semifinals, Tkach would have faced Wilkie in the finals of that event. Molineiro pulled it off, though, downing Tkach in this event’s semifinals 6-4 to earn himself a second shot at Wilkie in the hot seat.
Momentum may have been on Molineiro’s side, but Wilkie wasn’t interested. He took command of the only set that proved necessary, downing Molineiro 6-2 to complete his first Maryland State title run in two years.
Event directors at On the Hill Productions, Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Blvd., as well as title sponsor Mezz Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay Region), Billiard Sports Network for their stream of the event throughout the weekend, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, and Turtle Racks. On the Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. for their next scheduled event, the MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships, to be held on the weekend of April 4-5.