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Samís Club National BBQ Tour sends first round of teams on to Bentonville

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April 26, 2013

In a smokin’ shootout between some of barbecue’s best, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour presented its first round of tickets to the Series final in Bentonville as it closed out Region 4 in late April. A huge congratulations to Tombstone BBQ of Kalama, Wash. for their Grand Champion win and GQue of Superior, Colo. for claiming Reserve Grand Champion at the regional event held in Las Vegas.  

“We had no idea how we would compete on a national level,” said Michael Eckert, pitmaster for Tombstone BBQ. “Wining grand champion was shocking!” Eckert, a former chili competitor, has only been competing in the barbecue circuit for a year now. Placing this highly in the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour series, and beating out barbecue lords such as Johnny Trigg and Big Poppa Smokers in a single competition, serves as a huge testament to the team’s quick adaptation and mastery of the barbecue field.

“We keep things simple and strive for consistency,” said Eckert, who is proud of his team’s Texas-style Brisket, which has regularly received a top placing call this season. Tombstone BBQ spent much of the winter off-season studying the barbecue styles of different regions, helping them to really fine-tune their competition approach. As any good student would hope, the competition results show a clear payoff of all those hours spent studying! 

Trailing a mere 1.7142 points behind Tombstone BBQ, GQue made claims to the Region 4 Reserve Grand Champion title. 

“It’s kind of surreal,” said Jason Ganahl, pitmaster for GQue. “Some guys expect to do well and some just hope to do well. We just hoped to do well!” And “well” was exactly how the team performed in Las Vegas. 

Aiding in their Reserve Grand win, GQue received the first place call for both Chicken and Ribs. Ganahl notes that Ribs have been the team’s strongest category so far this season. 

“I’m spending more time picking out better quality ribs,” said Ganahl. “I’m looking at better marbling, wanting as much fat as I can possibly get.” 

What’s the secret to doing well in the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour? Ganahl adds there’s an element of just being fortunate. 

“Worry about controlling things you can control, and don’t worry about the things you can’t,” said Ganahl. “You can’t control what the judges will like or dislike, but you can control how you cook and prepare your turn-ins.” Echoing that thought, Michael Eckert stated that come competition time, you’re only competing against yourself.

Looking forward to the Sam’s final this October, both Tombstone BBQ and GQue plan on competing in several more competitions to stay in shape.     

Congratulations to the following teams from Region 4 who will be headed to Bentonville, Ark. in Oct. for the Sam’s Club National BBQ Championship: 

  1. Tombstone BBQ
  2. GQue
  3. Movin’ the Chains
  4. Phil & Lou BBQ
  5. Lutz’s Famous BBQ
  6. Rhythm ‘N Que
  7. TJ’s Prime Time BBQ
  8. Brew ‘N’ Bar-B-Que
  9. I.A.B. 30 BBQ
  10. Emerald Buffalo

With four regions remaining, there are still plenty of opportunities to snag a spot in Bentonville. Visit kcbs.us/samstour to view the complete schedule and event results. 

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