WAYNE, NJ – On the first Saturday in autumn, while the trees surrounding Captain Kilroy Park still held their green, a small crowd gathered on the basketball courts to compete in the first annual Wayne Parks and Recreation cornhole tournament. 

Mayor Chris Vergano stopped by to watch. “I know many people were excited to play in this tournament,” he said. “Tim Roetman and the Parks and Recreation team did a great job putting this together, and I'm happy that we're showcasing the new basketball courts."

Seventeen two-person teams began warming up on these basketball courts, tossing corn-filled bags at sloping wooden boards with a small hole near the top. The game is simple. Try to land the bags either in the hole for three points, or on the board for one point. Teammates stand across from each other and next to their opponents, while they take turns throwing the bags underhand at the target.

Sign Up for Wayne Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Scoring is the difference in points after a round. If team A gets one in the hole and two on the board, that's five points. If Team B gets two in the hole and none on the board that's six point. The round is then scored as one point for Team B. The first team to score 21 or more wins.

“We are here to have fun and get out of the house,” said Ken Carlascio. “We play cornhole a lot, but this summer, we haven’t been able to, so when we heard about the tournament, we jumped on it.”

The tournament was sponsored by TAPinto Wayne who provided prizes for the top three teams, and the Outback Steakhouse, who delivered steaks, chicken and a variety of sides for lunch, while the music came from Karl and Cheryl at Bach To Rock Music School in Wayne.

  • First place won $100 cash and two $50 gift cards to the Taphouse Grille
  • Second place won two $50 gift cards to the Taphouse Grille
  • Third place won one $50 gift card to the Taphouse Grille.

The tournament began with a round-robin match where everyone played three games to determine seeding in the final single-elimination tournament.

The most intriguing match-up happened at the end of the round-robin when the 'Ziggys' (Joe Monello and his fourteen-year-old son Joey) played the 'Swifties' (Joe Mullarkey and his fourteen-year-old daughter Jennie). The game was close all the way to the end, and a crowd gathered to watch the final throws. 

With the Ziggys up 20-19, Joey Monello threw one in the hole, and three on the board, with his last throw hitting the hole but somehow staying suspended over it. Joe Mullarkey also had two on the board and one in the hole. His would be the last throw in the round, and he needed a miracle. “Everyone knew that If I dropped mine in the hole, I would drop his, and they would win,” said the older Mullarkey.

“He put it right in front of the hole and it slid right in,” said his daughter proudly. The miracle throw elicited a huge cheer from those on the outside. The game was tied 22-22, but the Ziggys ended up winning that final game. Joe Monello spoke to TAPinto during lunch. He was clearly happy to be playing with his son, who he described as the ‘strength of the team.’

“We love cornhole," he added. "We play at our house all the time. It’s such a good thing to have a tournament right here in town."

After lunch, the single-elimination tournament began and the least intriguing game happened. The number one seed was the 3-0 ‘Panthers’ a team consisting of two volunteer football coaches for the Boys and Girls Club: John Immediato and Dave Monisera. They wiped the floor with the sixteenth seed, the 0-3 ‘TAPinto Team’ consisting of yours truly and the best, and most beautiful teammate a guy could ask for, Kendra Dino. The game ended 21-0 in less than three minutes. Embarrassing!

The ‘Panthers’ were relentless, knocking off ‘Double G’ and the eventual third place team, the ‘Cornstars’ to reach the finals. 

On the other side of the board, the seventh seeded team ‘Wood in the Hole,’ upset the second seeded team ‘DNR’ and beat the eventual fourth-place team ‘Toss Like a Boss’ to meet the ‘Panthers’ in the finals.

The finals round was the best two out of three games to determine a champion. At the end of the first game, the Panthers came from behind to win 21-18. In the second game, the word ‘relentless’ had to be used again to describe the scoring onslaught of the Panthers, who won 21 – 1 and became the first ever Wayne Cornhole Champions.

‘Cornstars’ player, Charlie Rusconi came from Little Ferry to play. “This was Perfectly run,” he said of the event. They just did a superb job.” He was interviewed after the round-robin and correctly predicted a top-three finish.

“It’s always great to see some people you haven’t seen around town for a while and get outside and have some fun,” said the one-named wonder, ScottieGould who played for the second-place team ‘Wood in the Hole.’

“Competing is the only reason I’m here, and I’m not used to going home a loser,” he added with a smile.

Champion Dave Monisera said, “This tournament was run so well, we just thought it would be a bigger crowd. I’m sure once word gets out, you will have a lot of people here because this was a great time. The competition is just going to get better and better.”

“The thing that I liked was that the competition was excellent, especially the final eight teams that made it,” said Fellow Champion John Immediato. “Any of the teams could’ve won. We were just fortunate enough to get hot at the right time, and we did well.

“We’ll be back next year because we have to defend our title,” Immediato added.  This was a common theme, with many players expressing the same desire to be back for an even bigger and better tournament next year.

The Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is considering a Cornhole league for this spring.  Watch for announcements!