Our People: Cornhole competitor goes from backyard games to the big leagues

Community News

He started off playing Cornhole like many people do – in the backyard at a BBQ. Bryan Cheney, process control operator at Marathon Petroleum Company LP’s (MPC) Detroit refinery, said he was “pretty decent” at the popular lawn game Cornhole, where players throw corn or bean filled bags into a hole on a tilted platform. He would beat everyone he played at social events.

“A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to partner in a tournament,” said Cheney. “We played and got destroyed! I noticed the other teams were throwing the bean bags flat like a pancake, not like a softball.”

Cheney changed his technique, practiced, and did some research on Cornhole in the Detroit area. He found there were several leagues and bigger tournaments that would allow him to play seven days a week if he wanted. Because he is a member of the Emergency Response Team for MPC, he qualified to play in the All Forces Cornhole Championship, which is open to current and retired members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Police, Fire, EMT and other first responders.

“That was an exciting event. Marathon sponsored me for the competition in 2019, and I wore a Marathon jersey on TV,” Cheney said. “I felt honored to have the company back me like that.”

Cheney was featured on NBC Sports Network last summer in the 2021 All Forces Cornhole Championship. Cheney also competes in singles and doubles in both the American Cornhole League and the American Cornhole Organization. He tries to play whenever he is not working at the refinery or spending time with his family.

“You accumulate points playing in monthly regional tournaments, local weekly blind draws and national events. That is how you accumulate points – you get state rankings and world rankings. I don’t play enough to get ranks yet,” said Cheney.

Cheney is competing in monthly regional events and has plans to play in four national tournaments in 2022.

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