Atlantic Coast Regionals Day 1 by Grant
April 26, 2009, 12:55 am
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Round 1

Pool A

Florida Gators v. Georgia Tech Tribe

Before the game starts, I’m walking around and I notice the back right corner of Field 1 is an an angle and it trails off severely beyond the cone. Hmm…

Some early jitters from Ga Tech causes turnovers and Florida jumps out to a 2-0 lead. Brodie fields the disc on an out of bounds pull and takes it to the brick. He shoots for Fernando Lugo on the first throw but Ferns can’t run it down. Tech almost ties it back up but the receiver can’t haul in the huck after Chris Gibson has to turn awkwardly to try and D the disc. Two more turns and Miguel Palaviccini runs down the score, 3-1 Florida.

Coach Jon Windham calls “O-13” which must mean “Brodie, put it deep,” because that’s how he responds. As soon as he taps it he jacks but Nick Lance says otherwise and skies the receiver to get the D. Feeling inspired, Michael Spear skies two Florida defenders to get the goal, 4-2 Florida.

Florida then gets to work and rattles off three in a row, which involved, more or less, Brodie to Gibson which didn’t leave the defenders much of a chance. Ga Tech gets one more before Florida takes half, 8-3.

Florida and Tech take a breather but Florida is not slowing down. On the first point after half, Florida makes their receivers works and leave no margin for error as the players get the jerseys dirty to preserve the disc but still get the goal 9-3.

Ga Tech is hanging tough despite the score and play remains exciting. So exciting in fact that I look over and all seven players on the James Madison line are intently watching even though one of them raises a hand. 11-4 Florida

Points are traded back and forth, with Florida holding steady on O and Ga Tech taking advantage of poached deep receivers. Andrew Fish grabs a disc over his opponent and Ethan Edgerton is wide open for the score, 12-6.

The only point of contention the entire game was a non call late in the game. Brodie puts up a disc apparently to Travis Catron but his defender has the inside track and gets to the disc first as another set receiver/defender matchup arrives Catron has to jump from behind over everybody to get the disc but it’s incomplete and lands on the ground. Catron initially calls foul. Nick Lance initially flips out. Statements are retracted. High fives all around. Florida gets the disc back and finds Miguel again in the endzone, followed by a Callahan from Cole Sullivan. Florida sitting on game point at 14-6.

Tech tacks an another before Brodie finishes the game with a hammer to Miguel, 15-7.

James Madison Hellfish v. William and Mary Weapons of Mass Destruction

William and Mary is sporting some sweet jerseys which involve a flag pole with a banner that says 1693 attached to it, similar to something that would be planted in the name of the motherland. At the bottom of the shirt, a busty girl is straddling the pole. Awesome.

With WMD pulling to James Madison, the defenders start the game and the tournament right. On the second throw of the game, the Hellfish overshoot the dump and in comes Andy Fleming for the easy Callahan to fire up the William and Mary sideline. The fields are a little short, so pulls are easily going into the endzone. James Madison fields another disc in the deep in their own territory. While there was no Callahan this time, the throw lands just outside the endzone line and WMD throws an easy score, 3-0 William & Mary.

Kyle Fredericks with a long outside in forehand to the back corner and the Hellfish get a break back at 3-2. Both teams settle in and points go back and forth.

W & M continue to pull relentlessly and cover. James Madison beats the zone and force a switch to man which allows them to get a some more yardage in the transition. As the Hellfish get closer, a disc goes to the corner as two receivers are running to it. The second receiver calls the first guy off, saying, “I got it!” The first guy stops at the corner and the second receiver leaps out of bounds and throws the greatest back to the first receiver, 6-4 William and Mary.

William and Mary is unphased and continues to score like halftime was non existent. Alex “Scapegoat” Srisuwan gets a big D, but W & M stops them in their tracks to get the disc back and the score, 10-5 WMD. The Hellfish get a break back, then Eric “Astro” Miner gets the bookend score, 10-7.

The teams give each other a point and Alan Kolick is doing it all for William and Mary. Throwing, catching, everything. James Madison almost doubles the Callahan total for the game but the first throw will do, 13-9. Arthur DeAnna makes a pretty breakside cut and subsequent turnaround uplien flick for the score, 14-9.

Kolick finishes things up nice and tidy for the Weapons of Mass Destruction picking up on a turn and putting it deep, hitting his man in stride. 15-10 William and Mary. Moneyshot. Boom!

Emory Juice v. University of Central Florida Dogs of War

Just as I peer over the hill I see a bunch of players close together near the endzone and a disc almost goes up but bounces of Sam Gainer’s chest right into his hands. Callahan! 12-9 Emory. Victor Wu is working the Emory line into a frenzy and they try to stop the UCF offense, but the Dogs of War offense makes short work and gets to within two, 12-10.

A point of contention earlier in the game manifests itself as Emory wants to call timeout. Apparently Emory wanted to call timeout earlier in the game when they were about 10 yards out of the endzone. Arvil Nagpal verbally says timeout while swinging the disc around to his hands to complete the T shape. UCF pauses for a second but then a player picks up and throws to the endzone where a Dog catches without a defender because the Emory team has already started to gather in a huddle. Emory seems confused and tells UCF and the observer they called timeout. Mike Gerics, observing this game, didn’t see the action as Arvil had his back to him, and the other observer confirms UCF’s argument that since he didn’t make the correct T shape with his hands, the goal counts. Emory is furious, and when Arvil calls timeout again, he over emphasizes the point repeatedly making a T with his hands and saying timeout, which eventually leads to a TMF from Gerics. The timeout is no good as UCF takes over and a wide open Jon Beilan closes the gap, 12-11.

The day is getting hotter and players are starting to cramp. Arvil has to take an injury, but his replacement gets the score from Matt Wetzel, 14-12 Emory. Play is getting tighter and players getting louder as Emory gets closer and closer. At the corner a dump pass to Gainer is high enough and floaty enough for Same to jump over the line while making the grab, 15-12 Emory.

Round 2

Florida State DUF v. North Carolina Darkside

The Floridians give up a break early but remain within one when a high throw up the middle gets an open receiver to make it 3-2, UNC.

Lucas Darden throws right to the defender but steps up on the mark and gets the foot block, runs downfield and gets the score, 4-3. UNC trades points but then takes control of the game. An FSU mistake leades to an easy huck to Noah Saul. 7-4 UNC.

With halftime near, a UNC player grabs the disc near the goal line and it’s too close to call. The situation is sorted out and play resumes. Darkside swings the disc around and the strike is on. Paul Corbett has the space in front of him to get the score if he can only get there in time, but makes the saving bid to take half, 8-4.

Chris Pyle fakes hard to the dump and when his defender commits, takes the wide open strike. He’s got plenty of time and hits Matthew Le Pierre in the endzone to stop the Darkside run, 10-5. UNC gets another almost a Callahan but the disc bounces of the Carolina defender’s hands. FSU takes the gift and goes the distance, toeing the line and the sky, 11-6.

Darkside continues to make things easy for a not so gimpy Darden, who’s playing on a torn hamstring, but one would never tell by the way he’s not necessarily had to exert himself. 12-6 Darkside. Gabe Hart, the 5th year student from Carleton gets a big layout D but cramps in midair, saving a certain goal, but is forced to take an injury in the meantime. UNC finishes things off, winning convincingly 15-7.

Georgia Jojah v. Clemson Joint Chiefs of Waft

Early miscues aren’t necessarily the result of bad play. Too much arm from a Peter Dempsey huck being the most notable turnover, but it means Georgia can’t pull away from Clemson right away. At 4-2, Clemson goes on a four point run, including a big put from the Clemson Slade (Michael) which finds his receiver easily. Ben Tincher also gets in on the action, hammering a disc to the endzone for the 4th point in the streak. With Clemson leading 6-4, Jojah takes a big shot to Charlie Herrig who gets one back for the Dawgs.

Once the score evens out, the teams trade a couple of points. With a halftime lead on the line, Georgia counters all of the early action from Clemson and take half. The guys are fired up and everything they say is filled with volume and passion like, “You guys are hot! Put a towel on your head!” “Yea towels, get some towels!” “Fluids!” “Put some fluids in your mouth!” Georgia, 8-7.

Clemson equalizes after half and the score stays even for several points. 8-8, then 9-9, then Georgia starts to open up. Tom Morris hits Matt Bailey getting up and then takes a fortuitous drop from Clemson for the easy score, 11-9.

The wind is picking up a little bit and the disc wobbles out of Ben “Sexy Legs” Tincher’s hands. Taylor Nilan picks up and throws the score, 12-9. At 13-11 Georgia gets lucky breaks and makes moves to pull away. Charlie Herrig’s disc is D’ed but still has enough rotation on it to find Tom Morris, and then Jojah takes advantage of another Clemson drop to get the W, 15-11.

1v1 Crossovers

NC State Wolfpack v. Virginia Night Train

NC State immediately starts out in a zone set, but Virginia is unphased with solid handlers back. Night Train is extremely chilly with the disc and makes short quick passes back and forth down the field, finally getting stopped by State some 60+ yards down the field. The Pack try one long throw but its no good and Virginia goes back to work, getting what they came for this time, 1-0 Virginia.

It’s State’s turn to work it down the field but they can’t take care of it in the wind. When State gets it back, Brett Matzuka has an easy hammer breakside for the equalizer.

Virginia has a solid game plan and they stick to it. 2-1 becomes 3-1 then Peter Van de Burgt makes a fake as he throws up a smooth high release to Jesse Macadangdang through the cup, Magic Johnson style. 4-1 Virginia.

Ken “KP” Porter finally sees some significant time in this game, saving a disc from hitting the ground without the need to bid. He immediately turns around to throw the score, 6-3. Bryan Conklin has a punishing breakside backhand and State gets the continue for the score 7-4. Virginia goes on to take half 8-4.

The first point after half time is supposed to be a spark for NC State. Evan Bowres puts it to Conklin who gets the disc without a challenge, 8-5. Even though State won’t give up on the zone, VIrginia has no problem working it against them, making opportunities for themselves and staying in sync with each other. No need for bids in this offensive set, 9-5 Virginia.

The Pack needs answers and fast. As they jog together on the pull they stay close. The first throw goes to the left and once KP sees his teammate cut in, he busts deep. Goodbye. 9-6.

Robert Runner from Virginia tries the same corner that worked for State but puts a little too much Human Growth Hormone on the disc and Tyler Conger’s greatest attempt fails despite actually getting the disc back in bounds. State is on the attack now and the put is right into the sun making it a hard read for the receivers who are parallel with the disc. In comes Porter between everybody and gets the grab as well as the kick spike. 9-7.

Points are traded and flash forward now. Typical NC State as Brett Matzuka finds Porter with a forehand huck, 11-9 Virginia. Virginia gets another and then a break when Jesse Macadangdang is rewarded with the near bookends on the next point, getting a footblock and throw the score., 13-9.

A Night Train receiver gets a lucky bounce in a pile and treating it like it was meant for him throws the pass right away for the score, 14-9.

Virginia caps off the win on a 4 point run to take the game and the 2nd seed, 15-9.

Florida v. Georgia

One of the best Regional rivalries in recent memory, the champion of the Atlantic Coast region over the past 4 years has been one of these two teams. Besides being fiercely competitive in Ultimate, the two schools are fiercely competitive in anything when given an opportunity to play against each other. When the #1 seed for the tournament is on the line, watch out.

Florida takes possession on the first point and shoots deep early but it’s no good. Georgia takes the turn and scores first. The teams are testing each other early on to establish what both are capable of. Cole Sullivan looks left off a dead disc but the disc is D’ed. Next up, a deep huck to Michael Slade is gobbled up by Brodie Smith. Florida tries to get a goal to Travis Catron but it’s just beyond his reach. Georgia has it deep in their own territory but Chris Gibson gets the poach D and two throws later, Florida ties it at 1-1.

Jojah punctures Florida’s zone with a blady hammer, and they are off to the races. Peter Dempsey sees Brodie is not far enough back and hits the Georgia Slade in stride, 3-2, Florida.

Florida is Florida though and Brodie does what he does best, skying the disc over David Benkeser, landing and throwing the score, 4-2. Slade will get revenge and it’s a bookend score, 4-3.

After Georgia scores, Florida for whatever reason starts to get some miscues with their handlers. A miscue causes an early turn and the Georgia sideline wants me to write it was Brodie’s fault (it wasn’t). No matter as Georgia scores on the next throw. 4’s.

Again Florida drops the disc near their own endzone, this time doinking off Brodie’s hands. Not wasting any time Jojah hits Dempsey up high in the back, 5-4 Georgia.

Andrew Mistretta goes in for the D on the now faulty Florida handler line and Georgia scores again! 6-4 now. On the next point, the Gators finally are able to get a few throws off without screwing up and put it to Miguel who can’t run down the disc. Georgia won’t be stopped when they are on offense. Their handlers hit everyone in stride and Tom Morris is able to cruise towards the disc for the goal, 7-4 Georgia.

Miguel grabs a disc over two Georgia players who jump too soon and it’s all daylight along the left side. 7-5 now. On a turn Brodie finds Chad Dahne making the S cut and Florida gets a break back.

Both teams suffer from a mild mistake epidemic, eventually leading to fouls called. Two potential fouls are negated by the observers quickly but Georgia drops the possession. The Dawgs get it back and Matt Bailey meets the disc in the corner for Jojah to take half, 8-5.

Alton Gaines sends it long to Miguel. Chances are good with Miguel trying to run it down but the disc is too far. Georgia puts a disc up, but I can’t see who it is because a coupel of Florida defenders have swallowed up his presence. The disc is D’ed but right into the hands of Dempsey. Dempsey hits Slade in the endozne, 9-7

Florida answers quick with a Brodie grab to Ferns 9-8. Georgia’s turn and they also run a quick offensive offense, 10-8. Florida wants another goal to be in a position to tie but the disc is swatted down by Nilan. The first Jojah throw is D’ed by Ferns Lugo and Florida has a zero yard field to work with. Catron gets up top and it’s 10-9, UGA.

Florida has the disc and Miguel could have gone over the high jump bar by the way his body got equal altitude at one point or another. Timeout is called and two throws later, Florida is in the endzone, 11-10.

There is a lot of wind now and on this point Georgia is going against it. Chad Dahne makes an impressive bid but Tom Morris is there first and without a mark now. There are no more contested throws and Georgia goes up 12-10. Georgia gets one more mildly easy one when Andrew Petersen calls out a backhand force but Florida can’t transition in time and it’s all score, all the time, 13-10 Dawgs.

Florida begins to clamp down. The Gators put it and Georgia’s coach A.J. Tiarsmith says, “Max it’s up! Max! The Frisbee!” But it’s too late and Brodie jumps up to grab the disc and find Miguel in the corner for what seems like every point this game, 13-11 UGA.

Florida gets a generic break and then has Georgia pinned down just inside their own half of the field. The handlers swing it to wide but Chris Gibson is forced to leave with what appears to be a cramp or a groin pull. Georgia tries to get something going on offense but Slade can’t hang on to the disc. Alton Gaines ties the game and we are now square 13-13.

Both teams are trying to cherish the disc as the horn has sounded so this will be the last point. The Gators and the Dawgs take their deep shots but neither are complete. Jojah takes it on the corner and finds Charlie underneath. He on the otherhand puts it deep, deep, deep. Matt Bailey needs his whole body to catch this one and does so, all the while getting up and throwing the game winner 14-13.

Stay tuned for more coverage for the rest of the weekend!

Clemson by Grant
April 24, 2009, 11:18 pm
Filed under: 5584

courtesy of

courtesy of

You always have to be wary of teams that are skilled, fun, and have more or less nothing to lose heading into Regionals. Enter Clemson. These guys have already made Regionals before are entering the third straight year of making the tournament. Yet this year they’ve stepped up their commitment to doing well and teams should watch out. “At the beginning of this season (Fall 2008) we decided as a goal to make the second day of Regionals mean something. In years past Regionals has always fallen on the weekend before/during exams. Needless to say, many of our players had to leave early or not come at all, causing dismal results. This season, from the very beginning, we decided that Sunday of Regionals we would be eligible for Nationals. Although we were realistic about our unlikely entrance into Nationals, we were/are determined to make it as far we see possible,” says junior Michael Reed. Jonathan Oliver adds, “We’re confident we can surprise teams and we have to skill and experience to win a few games. Other teams expect little out of us, and that fuels us. We know we have nothing to lose and look forward to seeing what kind of havoc we can wreck on higher seeds.” This is also the same team that had a lead on Florida at CCC and NC State at the ACC championships at half time, only to fall short by a combined total of three points in both cases.

Without out a doubt, this team has some talented players including Ben Slade, Ben Tincher, Tyler Van Hook, and Jonathan Oliver. “Ben Slade is definitely a key to our team. He provides defensive intensity and a high level of individual athleticism. However everyone knows Slade can’t just throw the disc to himself, but most would be surprised to learn that Slade is not the center of our offense. Slade may be our best deep thrower out of the stack, but our offense begins the back. Ben Tincher is our big play handler, and when he is on, teams be warned. He also has great defense and is an asset to our offense.” says Oliver. He also added, “Also on offense Keenan Watson is a huge key to our sucess. Most teams ignore him on the field when they make sure to pick up Slade and Tincher, but Keenan scores close to 2/3 of our points. He’s super sneaky and is ALWAYS open in the endzone. He’ll score 5 straight points on a team and they sitll can’t keep him covered in the endzone. Off the field our success is due to our new coach, ECU legend Ben Deiter. He provides intensity to our sidelines and at practices that have been missing in Clemson Ultimate.”

The Joint Chiefs definitely have all of the elements in place to get to where they are and potentially disrupt better teams this weekend, but one point of note is now they got here. In order to make it Regionals they beat intrastate and sport rival USC in the semifinals of the backdoor bracket, and I can only imagine what that must have felt like. “USC will always be a Clemson rival, no matter the competition. Any win over them is a good win, all the better if it helped us make it to Regionals. But they are a great team, with a bunch of really nice guys. Despite our collegiate rivals they are probably one of the friendliest teams we play,” says Reed. But for a team on the rise, there has to be other rivalries forming and Oliver inferred that there might be a showdown brewing this weekend. “We do have a few bitter rivals, but seeing as they’ll be playing this weekend I won’t mention them now. Let’s just say this NC team is becoming bitter rivals of just about everyone they play.” I can only imagine the fireworks that we’ll see on the fields in Charlotte this weekend.

North Carolina – Chapel Hill by Grant
April 24, 2009, 11:02 pm
Filed under: 5584

darksideThe triangle area of North Carolina is a fertile breeding ground for talented players and teams a like. Darkside is no exception and have been in the hunt for a bid to Nationals since the late 1990’s when they first made the big dance. Last year, they were certainly a good pick to make Nationals, especially after making it to the finals of Centex. But then Georgia decided to show up and make their presence known in the series, beating UNC twice on the way to taking the second bid. “It was a huge disappointment to the whole team last year when we lost to Georgia twice and were not able to go to Nationals. We had a very senior heavy team last year and graduated 7 guys who played significant minutes and also lost several younger guys who would have been major role players this year,” says senior Jason Rome. So what happens to a team that goes through that kind of heartbreak and graduates a significant chunk of guys who have the most experience at Nationals? “The team this year is not as deep as last year but I believe that our top 8 or 9 players (when healthy) can compete with any other teams top 7 in the entire country. We are a much more tight knit team this year and even had 6 of our top guys play together on Los over the summer in the club scene. We’ve had to do a lot more teaching this year in our training since our team is comprised of a larger number of new players but [we] are approaching Regionals with the mindset that no matter who is injured, we will be able to compete for one of the three bids to Nationals.”

Rome mentions injuries and health for a reason. In the course of the season, things don’t always go your way and North Carolina has suffered a number of injuries throughout the year. Taking stock of healthy bodies before Regionals, Rob Sayre-McCord (foot surgery), Lucas Darden (torn hamstring), Jason Rome (torn hamstring), Andrew Ryan (shoulder), and David Jaramillo (shoulder) all have health issues. Only Darden, Rome, and possibly Ryan are possibly for Regionals.

Yet with skilled and experienced leadership in place, North Carolina should be threat to every other team. But if I had to point to another reason why I wouldn’t look past Darkside, it’s the fact they play in arguably the toughest section in the country, right along with the Bay Area section. Especially with only 3 bids to Regionals, it was a challenge just to get this far, while other elite teams got to rest their starters and take it easy. With that test out of the way, Jason told me how he would approach the other sectionals teams should UNC face them at Regionals. “If we face a Carolina team at Regionals I think we can beat anyone. We lost to [North Carolina] State by a large margin the second game at sectionals but the first game we played them very close. We haven’t faced UNC-W all year though if we do it will definitely be a game to watch as things have always gotten quite heated between our teams, even at club sectionals this year in September when both teams had players at the top missing. I think we can beat any team in our section.” As far as Georgia and Florida go, Rome says, “Florida has been dominant this year but I think Georgia has had lapses at multiple tournaments but are still considered a favorite along with UVA and Wilmington. However I think the difference between the 2-6 ranked teams at Regionals won’t be much depending on injuries. Georgia and Florida have cast a shadow over the region which is understandable due to their superior Nationals performances over the last few years.”

Despite all the injuries, North Carolina Darkside remains a powerhouse and the studs are there to prove it. Paul Weeks, Gabe Hart a 5th year student from Carleton, Noah Saul, Forbes Belk, and Will Rearick all deserve accolades. “Noah, Gabe and Paul really carried the team during sectionals. We have several rookies who have also stepped up this year including Thomas Sayre-Mccord, Eric Lieu, and Sean Childers.” Any team that thinks the best years of Darkside are behind them will be sadly mistaken this weekend and in years to come.

Florida by Grant
April 24, 2009, 10:51 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

There is so much information about Florida swirling around in cyberspace and in people’s minds, the space probably won’t be able to satisfy everyone’s preconceived notions and opinions about this team. Where do I start in order to present this team as they head into Regionals? For one, Florida has been a staple of the elite college scene for almost 4 years now, capitalized with their 2006 national championship led by Callahan award winner Tim Gehret. The accomplishments speak for themselves:

3 straight Regional championships
2006,2007, and 2009 Trouble in Vegas Champions
2009 Stanford Invite Champions
2008 Centex Champions
2007 National Semi finalist
2008 National Runner Up
2006 National Champion

No other team with exception of Wisconsin can post a resume like and it’s a testament to the work ethic the men have instilled in Gainesville. From top to bottom, this team is nothing but athletes and this may explain their passion about treating Ultimate as a real sport.

Courtesy of Andrew Davis photography

Courtesy of Andrew Davis photography

When Cultimate announced the creation of Conference 1 back in October of 2008, Florida was the first time to enroll for the new series. The team and Cultimate took a lot of criticism through about the potential changes to the sport largely because of the intent to promote Ultimate as close to a Division 1 sport as possible. So, going into the current season, Florida, besides having to replace some very talented players in Kurt Gibson and Cyle Van Auken, had to deal with the reputation as trying to essentially “ruin Ultimate” in a broad sense.

Regardless of the initial ambitions put forth last fall, these guys are passionate about Ultimate. They operate like a championship team should and want the game to get the respect it deserves. I don’t blame them. This doesn’t mean they still don’t like to have fun as seen here, here, and here. Isn’t self depricating humor a big part of Ultimate?

So who is the real Florida? How can one disseminate all the false information and accurately describe the real team? “There are a lot of dumb people on RSD and that is where most people get their information. Most teams have never played us but think we cheat. The videos were mostly for the team. I thought they were pretty funny,” says Brodie Smith. “We are trying to advance the sport. In 2006 we starting wearing our school colors and had our school logos.” This isn’t to say that spirit shouldn’t be incorporated in the game, but for Brodie and Florida, fear of change has a lot of people automatically disregard the notion. “One of the reasons why I believe people want to keep spirit is because it makes Ultimate unique and also keeps Ultimate from actually growing and maybe one day becoming a D1 sport. I think people just want to keep the sport to themselves. I know that if Ultimate Frisbee became a D1 sport that I would be lucky to make UF’s team. Its not hard to learn the game and there are tons of better athletes out there than myself.”

With that said, Regionals is near and one of only two losses that Florida has suffered this year has been to a regional opponent. In fact for Florida, THE regional opponent: Georgia. “The two times we lost this season were both due to us doing things outside of what we are good at. If we play our best nobody can beat us,” says Smith. This is a team that knows how costly mistakes and even though they lost to two of the best teams, they still currently hold the best record in the country and haven’t lost since Vegas. While no team is unbeatable and running the table is next to impossible, now is not the time to find one’s self having a bad game. Florida will arrive in Charlotte fighting for every point of every game, so the competition will have to match the Gators point for point with mistake free play.

Virginia by Grant
April 24, 2009, 9:44 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Only one team from the Blue Ridge section has ever made Nationals and Virginia would like to double that number. This would be quite a turnaround for a team that didn’t even make Regionals two years ago. Not many people saw this transition coming and I wanted to know what has happened. Co captains Robert Runner and Greg Erikson had this to say, “I believe one of the biggest improvements in our program has been through the commitment to practice. A few years ago, it was hard to get people to come to practice as many would cite ‘too much work’ or just flat out not show up. For many players Ultimate was their second or third priority and would skip tournaments for fraternity parent’s formals. Additionally, we lost a few of our key players to injury late in that season and couldn’t make it out of Sectionals. Over the past two years people have made Ultimate their top priority. The entire team has been committed to work hard at practice this year, and this consistency has helped us improve each day. We have also encouraged everyone to join a club program during the summer and work on individual skills. Since the fall, people have been excited play and socialize as a club. I’ve noticed that the more time we spend together outside of practice (at the dining hall, throwing on the Lawn, or just hanging out at Odie’s house), the better we play as a team. We’re hoping that our work will pay off this weekend.” In the days of individual stardom and recognition in modern sports, we often forget how far unity can take a team. The results speak for themselves.

courtesy of Robert Runner

courtesy of Robert Runner

Virginia has racked up some impressive wins so far. The team hasn’t lost to a regional opponent since Trouble in Vegas when they lost to Duke who unfortunately didn’t even make it to Regionals. But besides that hiccup, they have made it to the finals of every tournament since then. “By playing more Regional competition, we have been able to see firsthand the teams we will need to beat to get to Ohio. Through direct competition, we have been able to pick up on our opponent’s specific tendencies. Hopefully, we will be able to use this experience to gain an advantage in important games this weekend. A lot of times, it is hard to quickly pick up on an opponent’s strengths in the middle of a game, let alone adjust your strategy to take advantage of their weaknesses. We hope that by playing more Regional competition we will be better mentally prepared than some of the other teams because we know what to expect. Coming out of the toughest section in the AC has prepared the Carolina schools, and Georgia will be much stronger than when we saw them at Easterns. We hope to build on our confidence from earlier victories and keep our game plan that has worked so far this season: that take what the defense gives us.” Absolutely. You may be able to beat the best teams across the country but you have to get to the national stage first and the best teams know that. Virginia is not getting hung up on potential future opponents and they are thoroughly focused on the weekend ahead of them.

Now Virginia possesses a lot of intangible qualities, but athleticism and skill are the cornerstones of any good team. As mentioned earlier, the Night Train captains encouraged their players to get club experience as a primer for the upcoming college season and they did. “Junior Tyler Conger and [Robert Runner] were both in Nashville and played Guillermo [y Compania] this summer. Additionally seniors Greg Ericksen, Jonathan Neeley, Brooks Taylor, Peter Van De Burgt, Ryan Early, and junior Matt King played for Floodwall, an open team out of Richmond. Graduate student Justin Webster played for Axis of C’ville; senior Charlie Scott and sophomores Max Rhodes and Svet and Iv Neov played for Eastern Motors. Having several key contributors playing club this fall has been vital to our success this season. The fast pace of elite club ultimate forces players to make better and quicker decisions; this has translated into better play during the college season.” This weekend has been a long time coming for most of these players and they have prepared themselves to do battle with the elite.

James Madison by Grant
April 24, 2009, 11:55 am
Filed under: 5584

I have lots of reasons to love this team and none of them involve ultimate. For me, you’ve got to hand to a group of guys who not only take their namesake from one of the best Simpsons episodes, they also use it for a tournament as well! As far as their play well…

courtesy of Chad Borer

courtesy of Chad Borer

Two years ago, it appeared as if James Madison was coming into their own, posting great results and losing in the game-to-go to Nationals to Georgia. The next year the Hellfish go 0fer on Saturday at Regionals and have no chance at the championship bracket for Sunday. This year resembles the same ups and downs the team has seen over the past 3 seasons. “We have been on a very emotional up and down ride so far. We have had some low points at QCTU and Easterns, but also finished 2nd at Joint Summit Classic,” says Hellfish President, Chris “A Prime” Zabady. Not to mention being placed in a pool of death at Queen City with 3 Nationals contenders in Notre Dame, Ohio State and Maryland.

The truth is, this Hellfish squad is still relatively young and have had to kind of rely on each other to get wins and experience. Zabady says,”Our team is made up of mostly Juniors and Sophomores, which leads to some of the inexperienced play, but our leadership was around for the game-to-go two years ago,” adding “Each of the last two years we have had an All-Region player (07 Jeff Laarz and 08 Chris Barker), but this year we are not going in with one player to lean on that much.” And they are building a foundation for the future, one step at a time. “Although the game-to-go seems out of reach, we still want to prove that we are still elite in the Blue Ridge, and want to gain back some of the respect we earned two years ago.”

So, James Madison has one final chapter this season and a few more goals to accomplish, but the future is promising for the Hellfish. “Our goal this year was to be in the championship of our section, and to play meaningful games Sunday of Regionals. We have failed one of those goals, but we believe that we can have a better showing than last year at Regionals… For the future of the Hellfish, I believe that we are still pretty far away from competing at the national level, but we are very ready to make noise in our region in the next few years. We have been getting solid high school players for the first time in our program’s history, and that looks to be continuing next year. Our four graduating seniors have been part of the highest level of success this team has achieved so far, but with mostly sophs and juniors, we are very excited to continue fighting our way up in the college Ultimate scene.” With so many guys getting experience in one of the toughest regions, improvement is inevitable. Asked if there was anybody in particular providing the excitement this season, Chris says, “Our seniors have been essential to lead our O and D lines, and we have two big play sophomores (Kyle Fredericks and Jonathan Caldera) who have no ceiling on their abilities, but this has been an entire team effort, everyone who stepped on the field throughout the year provided a spark in some way or another that helped us reach Regionals for the 4th straight year.” In the Atlantic Coast, that’s a significant achievement.

Virginia Tech by Grant
April 24, 2009, 11:55 am
Filed under: tournament write-ups

courtesy of Chad Borer

courtesy of Chad Borer

The level of competition in the Atlantic Coast Region is as high as it’s ever been, forcing the teams to step up their play and Virginia Tech Burn is no exception. Making Regionals for the first time in two years, the team is making gains towards being mentioned in the same company as some of the more established teams like Georgia and Florida. Although a 25-18 record sounds somewhat mediocre, Virginia Tech has played all over the map against a bevy of teams and in just as many weather conditions.

The season started out promising with a win over their Commonwealth rival Virginia at the ACC championships and then they took a trip out to Vegas. Co captians Scott Forester and Tom Barry explain it best, “The better portion of our team got about 2 hours of “sleep” that night and barely made it out on time to the fields. Needless to say, we were in no condition to be playing ultimate really. Had we been sober and rested we have no doubt we would have beaten UConn that morning. From there we got our wind and began rolling the teams we should have. The next day was the really rainy day so that definitely had an effect on our day. We actually beat UConn that day via a 3 on 3 boat race (ironic considering why we lost to them to day before). We forfeited our game to Asuza mostly due to the weather but also because if we would’ve had to win 6 games for it to be worth it. Luckily we got to play them the next day and beat them.”

But that was February and this is now. Virginia Tech has seen plenty of the competition they will face this weekend and while most teams are just happy to make sectionals, Burn is looking to go big. The team has come close to beating some Nationals contenders this year already including a universe point loss to NC State at the ACC championships, a 16-14 loss to William and Mary at Sectionals, and a 17-15 loss to Georgia at Easterns. “Every game we play we are in to win. It was just a few mental errors that kept us from wining those close ones. Hopefully we have learned from our mistakes.” Regional qualifying teams usually do learn from their mistakes, and that will work well for this veteran squad. Even though they haven’t been to Regionals in a couple of years and have yet to finish higher than 13th at Regionals, most of the team has been here before and will know what to do when the time comes. “The majority of this team have all been to Regionals at least once some of us twice. We feel that those returning to Regionals have the experience to make every game interesting, and hopefully in our favor. We are most definitely gunning for a better performance than in years past.”

Virginia Tech could definitely play the spoiler/sleeper role this year and they have the mentality to pull it off. Closing the interview out, Scott and Tom offered this piece of wisdom about their guys. “We win as a team and lose as a team, there is no one person that makes this team more successful than another.”

North Carolina – Wilmington by Grant
April 24, 2009, 11:54 am
Filed under: 5584

courtesy of Chad Borer

courtesy of Chad Borer

The Seamen. Former national champions. ECU might have been the first Carolina team to make Nationals but Wilmington put Carolina ultimate on the map by making it the Finals in their first trip to Nationals, repeating that performance the next year and winning it all in 1993. This team has been at the top of their game for almost two decades and certainly should be considered ultimate royalty at this point even though the last time they made Nationals was 2002. That could easily change this year.

Often preferring to play in tournaments closer to home, some people certainly thought the Seamen had no business playing in the Stanford Invite last year on the way to a 7th place finish. Not that Wilmington had never been taken seriously, but now they are in the middle of Nationals, All Region, FOTY, and Callahan conversations.

After an inauspicious start in Orlando, only winning one game, the Seamen have certainly picked more favorable results. A semifinal finish at the Queen City Tune Up was followed by another another at Easterns and what one could consider just as hard as winning most of the big name tournaments, winning the Carolina sectional tournament. If I didn’t know any better I’d say Wilmington is peaking at the right time, and this is what Brian Casey, senior, had to say, “We will need to beat one of the top teams in the Region to secure a spot to Ohio. We have been planning for games against the top teams in the Region for quite some time and we will have to execute when this weekend rolls around. I think this Region is one of the toughest in the country yet again this year with Florida, who is the top team in the country, and perennial Nationals contenders like Georgia and UNC as well as a team that has been lights out this year in Virginia.” It sounds like a daunting challenge but the other teams are sure to be looking at Wilmington the same way. “To secure a bid to nationals this year we will have to continue to grow as a team and rely on the team aspect and not focus on individual stats.”

Winning the Carolina section this year is definitely a good indicator that these guys do have what it takes to make it to Nationals, especially when some contenders didn’t even make Regionals. “Davidson, Duke and ECU all had tremendous seasons and it is very rare that you have teams in a section with wins over teams such as: North Texas, Arizona, Kansas, and Illinois that don’t advance to Regionals. A team like Davidson that had so much hype at the beginning of the year and had some good early season tournaments doesn’t get to advance to Regionals and that is just the way the Carolina Section works. This Section is, and was last year, the most competitive section in the country. There is no section that has as many good teams as the Carolina Section in the country in my opinion.” That might certainly be the case… and also a specter that this year’s National Champion might come from the Atlantic Coast Region.

courtesy of Chad Borer

courtesy of Chad Borer

The faces that got this team to where they are most definitely include Rusty Ingold-Smith. He has some of the best field sense in the game today regardless of college or club and has the experience to prove it. The only male invitee to the Team USA tryouts and a national runner up with Slow White, Rusty is someone you want on your team. His teammates certainly think so too. “Rusty has always been the key component for success for the UNCW Seamen in the 2008-2009 season. Rusty is fast, athletic, talented and has the will to not be beat and this creates a hell of a player to have to chase on defense or have chasing you. I have gladly taken the role as the number 2 on the team behind Rusty and he has pushed me to get better and vice versa,” says Brian. He’s definitely not alone on the field and has a great supporting cast. “Todd Doroski this year has stepped up as a downfield cutter and picked up his play at QCTU after I went out with a collapsed lung and was in the hospital. Freshman Tommy Lamar should be without a doubt FOTY in the AC Region and is an all around player who has set the record for hand-blocks in a season and has been able to establish himself in a starting role and become a pivotal part of this team as a rookie.” Could this be the year the Seamen regain control of the Atlantic Coast Region? Quite possibly.

Emory by Grant
April 24, 2009, 11:54 am
Filed under: 5584

Most people don’t know this, but the Emory men’s program has produced quite a few elite club players over the past decade including Justin Grishkin (Rhino), Nick Vitone (Bucket), A.J. Tiarsmith (Chain Lightning), Chris Goodson (Chain Lightning, Bucket),Greg Schwartz (Bucket) and John “Chimpo” Reinhold (German National Team) just to name a few. But what does this mean for the current squad? Wisdom. 1/3 Captain and all around Chain Lightning stud, Sam Gainer had this to offer about another Bucket star Victor Wu; “When I came on the team as a rookie 2 years ago, Victor Yung-Tao Wu was captain. The other rooks and I had the great pleasure of learning this great game of ultimate straight from the honey dew delicacy of Yung-Tao Wu. And to refresh the sore mind, Juice made it within 1 game of Regionals that year at Sectionals in Orlando,Fl. Wu said after that weekend, ‘I may not have made it there with you, but yall are headed for the promised land.”

But here’s another kicker. Emory has been playing without a coach like of the other teams in the Region and it seems as the veteran wisdom has guided Juice in the right direction. “Playing without a coach has been difficult at times, but it has always been on us to keep each other motivated and accountable. Arvil Nagpal bears most of the burden of calling lines and being the vocal leader for the team. We struggle the most with consistency, sometimes you just don’t know which Juice team is going show up, but we are all pleased with our performance at Sectionals and looking to build upon that focus and level of play this weekend at Regionals. We have had some illness run through the team this past week, but hopefully will be as close to 100% come Saturday morning.”

courtesy of Chad Borer

courtesy of Chad Borer

That certainly seems the case this season. After a 5-1 record at Discs Over Georgia, Juice managed to only go 1-3 at the rain shortened Terminus. Yet the very next weekend, the guys went 4-2 at Southerns. This team can be hard to figure out and since nobody knows what type of team will show up, they could very easily be overlooked this weekend and turn the heat up on some other teams.

If the real Emory Juice decides to show up, who will be the ones to watch? “As far as a player on the team that deserves AC All Region mentions Arvil Nagpal. Extremely intelligent player and always looking for ways to improve his game and the game of those around him. Plays with great passion for the game. Offense basically runs through him. It’s improbable to find anyone on the field that can match his effort when he is on defense and he has developed the skills that makes him a dangerous midfield cutter,” says Gainer. I’m sure he was being modest but Sam is also one of the best players on the team and is always a threat.

courtesy of Tim Morrill

courtesy of Tim Morrill

While these guys might not be around late on Sunday, they will be having fun regardless, which will definitely make for some quality games over the course of the weekend.

Mardi Gras: Complete Report by Grant
April 22, 2009, 12:17 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

First time in the bayou for me and I’m happy to be covering the original large scale college tournament. To avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, I down a Sparks and more might come later. It’s an eerie calm considering this is Mardi Gras.

Round 1 Illinois v. Texas

Lined fields… check

Temperate weather… check

Lots of competition… resounding check.

If all people could throw completed hammer to the endzone with defenders all about like UT, the backhand would be a thing of the past. Tuff scores first upon my arrival and the score is 5-4 TUFF. Illinois answers right back when their gunner handler hits a receiver in stride. TUFF wants a permanent lead though. A pick is called with UT holding possession, which means send it long on the tap in. Texas hucks, contested foul, and very gentlemanly sends it back. Then, Stephen “Franchise” Presley almost decapitates the entire sideline with a huck that barely makes it back in bounds, the only consolation of an incomplete pass. Illinois with the disc and a few tricky passes later has the Illini on top, 6-5.

With a fleeting break in the action, I take time to observe some of the other action going on. There are games as far as the eye can see and on the near field, Ed Wu (I think) on Indiana has the best hair of the tournament. Game over.

Oh shit. I can’t see them, but I can hear them. Faintly at first, but gradually more and more audible, the rhythmic chant of, “hooooooooo daaaaaaaaaaggggs. HOOOOOOOOO DAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGS.” Same old baby blue.

UT tries a zone D and viola! Insta turn action! Franchise picks up and throws to his upline cutter. At first it appears Illinois has signaled the receiver’s feet to be in but upon further review, it’s in fact a UT turnover. A little back and forth disc jockeying and UT finally says no more. Franchise picks up the disc and throws to what appears to be the exact opposite side his cutter is directed towards. In actually, his astute vision played the difference maker as the disc has enough float on it for the cutter to lead his defender to the wrong side of the field and then cut back right and run directly towards the disc without a threat from behind. TUFF takes half 7-6.

Notre Dame has shown up to play, but not much else. They are visibly hung over and most of the time that will affect the play of any team. Central Florida is leading Rage, 10-7.

Illinois bursts out of the gate in the second half to 8-7. TUFF is making too many throws in the dirt, and by that I mean more than 0. UT is fortunate to get a fast break chance and they convert for the tie 8-8.

It’s a back and forth slugfest between these two teams that display flashes of greatness connected with periods of mediocrity.

On the other side, UCF is starting to pull away from Notre Dame X, no relation to Malcolm or Terminator X. The Dogs score to make it 11-8 and I heard the word fuck a lot, coming from the UCF huddle. I mean I hear fuck being called out all over the fields but the Dogs are rapid fire. Another score and UCF is stationed for game point. A last gasp for Notre Dame as the defender macks a huck but the UCF receiver is easily able to run down the second change disc, and the Dogs bring home the bacon, 13-8. I sneak towards the Rage huddle to get some perspective and everybody has bloodshot eyes. That’s all the perspective I need.

UT turns to zone D and Illinois is making short precise throws down the field, taking care of the disc. Boring. “Do something for the fans,” I think to myself. They don’t listen and march down for the score and the lead, 10-9 Illini. 11-9 Illini and they start a call and response cheer of, “Let’s play! Ultimate!” Yes, please.

Neither team is able to hold onto the disc, causing numerous turns. The next round of games are starting so time is an issue for UT. Illini even gets it all the way to the goal line with no success. Franchise decides to play receiver and runs down a huck and makes the next throw for the score to make it 11-10, Illini. Both coaches head onto the field to discuss the time situation. Game to 12 is agreed upon. Two game point situations for Illinois.

Illinois receiving for the win and they are on the move. A UT defender goes for the disc and catches his opponent in the eye. No fun. A quick break and play resumes. Illinois puts it deep and bunch of things happen simultaneously. The sideline watches as the Illini receiver attempts to end the game and lays out, missing the disc and injuring himself in the process. The original throw calls foul and starts a discussion of why he felt compelled to call foul. After some squabbling, the disc is sent back. 3…2…1, disc in. This time the aim is toward the front of the end zone and the receiver makes the play. Illinois wins, 12-10.

Round 2 Wisconsin v. Texas St.

Logo creep from Patagonia. An entire mountainscape occupies the backside of the new Wisco jerseys. There’s no doubt about sponsorship here. I definitely didn’t see that on the Hodag website when they displayed jerseys for sale.

Maybe Jim Foster wears 18 because he perpetually looks like fresh faced college student starting his first day of class. Or maybe he just likes the number, the world will never know.

Texas State gets the first point of the game 1-0 and then the cup gets a hand on the disc as the thrower was about to be stalled. Buckets score another and its 2-0 TX State! You’ve to love the Hodag psyche in situations like this:

“Fucking sleeping. Gotta wake the fuck up!” Wisconsin timeout.

From what I’ve seen so far, VC is taking up a large chunk of the ultimate apparel market this year and there are some outrageous jerseys. Minnesota, UNT, and Texas are all sporting VC. Minnesota in particular has taken their Grey Duck logo and splashed it on their maroon jerseys in a large display. I want one.

Wisco is finally on the board with their exceptional handling getting it done against the zone. 2-1 Buckets. Prettiest throw of the tournament thus far goes to Tom “Animal” Annen: Multiple turns have kept the disc on the UW side of the field. Animal walks up to it on a turn and concludes with a full field huck that has perfect altitude and speed for Foster to run down in the endzone. All square but momentum is shifting. 3-2, then 4-2 Hodags. Texas State might need a breather.

On the adjacent field, Minnesota is playing Florida State and I witness a full gamut of emotions from both squads as Grey Duck scores. Michael Aronson of Minnesota starts to chant rhythmically to himself while getting increasingly more excited leading to pumping his fists in unison against his hips. Meanwhile, FSU has their heads hung low and a play exclaims, “Nothing fucking deep!”

Back to the game at hand and Buckets stops Wisco’s run with some quick, speedy throws. It’s as if someone told them if they didn’t score this point, there would be no Mardi Gras for them tonight. 5-3 Wisconsin.

The Hodags mimic the last point and push the TSU zone back to the breaking point, punctuating with a score to Zach Alter, who in the midst of jumping over the goal line to secure the score, inadvertently collides with a Texas State defender. There’s no injury, but Alter gets up and starts celebrating maniacally to the somewhat disgruntlement of a few TSU players, 6-3. Wisconsin takes half 7-3.

I don’t know how much more I can hang over watching this. My stomach is all kinds of topsy turvy. The stench of sand, sunscreen, and beer is in the air, but it’s too cold to be spring break. If the games continue like this, I’ve got to go find the mythical jambalaya and the semi mythical beer.

Texas State is receiving to start the half, but Wisconsin makes quick work on D and gets a score, then another, and another. I think 10-3 is a safe lead, so I’m off in search of food and drink.

Round 3 Jambalaya break.

Walking around some of the tier 2 fields, it sounds like there is some confusion about tomorrow’s schedule. It also appears at least one team is MIA, probably victims of the general party atmosphere. As round three gets under way, the sun has joined us, hopefully for the rest of the day.

I take a minute to check out Wisconsin-B take on College of Charleston. Consistently labeled as one of the best B teams in the country, I want to see them in action for myself. The Pimpdags are trying to play as equals but C of C has a few height mismatches which to their advantage. C of C taps the disc in after a pick and hammers it across the field to score, 2-2. C of C gets the disc on the next point and tries to hammer again but can’t repeat the same success. The Pimps work it the field but lack the consistency of a top tier A team, like the Hodags. C of C continues to take shots downfield, recognizing the strength any A team will have over a B team. Charleston pulls it down in a pile and take the lead 3-2. Pimps look solid but still suffer the growing pains from relative inexperience and lack of cohesion from year to year. C of C has its deep game clicking and extends the lead to 4-2.

Multiple field sites means, lots of logistical planning to cover as much action as possible. I want to check out club and women’s play and in order to do so, it’s 20 minutes of HOT. DRIVING. ACTION. I arrive on the other field site to find a bevy of women’s, coed, and open club games taking place. Yet what I come to find out when I inquire about the college women’s side is… same old, same old. Wisconsin is cruising in their game. Same with Texas. Everybody is in control and I make the executive decision to wait for the next round to start.

Getting prepared is necessary for a long day of covering games and I need my belongings in my traveling companions’ van. On my quest to find said van, I find the coed fields, including familiar and friendly faces who’ve come to Louisiana looking for a fun time. So friendly in fact, they ask me, “You want to play?” How can I refuse this offer? I can’t. Once the point ends, it’s go time as the valiant Georgia College & State University Alumni take on the anonymously evil Dirty Birds.

Round 3.2 GCSU Alum v. Dirty Birds (Coed Club)

Lining up on O, the Alum are cling to a 12-10 lead, receiving for the win. Legend of the game, Doug Oetter is also cling to the contents of his stomach as he establishes a game plan for us. The pull is up and we stray in our separate directions to form a horizontal stack. Jus as I establish position and turn around, the Dirty Birds get the D and we rush to do the same. We are no match for the purple tank topped warriors and they get the goal, 12-11 good guys. Feeling unsatisfied, I run down for just one more and we want the golden goal. All around superman, Mark Poole, and all around facial hair, Chris Voellinger have saddled up are ready to go. We have a plan and away we go. As both teams merge at half field I spring my trap and try to create the best possible distraction I can just short of illegality, waving wildly and yelling random phrases as the Dirty Birds. The team is distracted mildly for two seconds, but it’s enough for Haley Reese to get a beed on the huck but it sails just past her reach. The Birds pick up and start their battle, completing throw after throw after throw after throw…. after throw…. after throw, until there are no more afters as of the completions is in the goal. All tied. I’ve completed my tour of duty and now I am merely a spectator again, catching the action from the sidelines and offering what I feel is constructive criticism. GCSU catches lightning in a bottle and gets a score. The Birds answer back with a score. Sometime during this sequence of events, game is decided: Hard to 15. The Alum are receiving but it’s a turn and the Birds take the lead, 14-13. GCSU won’t go quietly and get the equalizer. Universe point! The Birds are handle crazy and send it deep for the win to an open man but Chris “Bushy” Voellinger is closing fast. It’s going to be a photo finish. Anticipation is high as both players go up for the disc. A hand reaches higher and it’s Bushy’s! Possession to GCSU. Bigtime stardom is on the line and Mark Poole appears to be the answer. He saves a fading huck from leaving the side of the field and looks for options as his teammates try to catch up. One fake, two looks, five seconds on the stall and then a forehand up the middle to Bushy for the win. 15-14, GCSU Alum (and friends).

GCSU Alum (and friends)

GCSU Alum (and friends)

Round 4 Wisconsin Bella Donna v. Truman State Tsunami

In the interest of checking out some teams that will be making some noise in bracket play tomorrow, I find Bella Donna is rolling 10-3. TSU is holding UW at bay for the moment and get the disc in their own hands, making it all the way to roughly 8 yards out of the endzone. The dump pass is too far and UW picks up looking to throw it an open receiver. Almost out of no where Emily Tobias gets the D and doesn’t stop there. Tobias makes the endzone cut and gets the goal in traffic. Bookends! 10-4 Wisconsin.

UW gets back on track with a swift trip down the field making things easy on the receivers, 11-4. With Truman State receiving their handling core produces some shaky throws. Coupled with legitimate D’s from Wisconsin, the disc changes possession and Bella Donna extends their lead to 12-4.

With TSU on life support Georgia Bosscher’s huck falls just short of her receiver, but she gets it right back with a D and throws the game winner this time capping the score at 13-4.

Round 5 Emory Luna v. Texas Melee

Significant implications ride on this game as Emory is 2-1 in pool play and Texas is 1-2. A Melee win could through a wrench in the pool standings.

The mood is light but the atmosphere feels tense. The sky is starting to dim by the excess of clouds that have closed in on the area. The Mardi Gras parade starts in a few hours but there is still a lot to accomplish on the field now. Melee has lost a few of their stars from last season but still have the incomparable Cara Crouch as their coach. Texas wants to score early and quick but can’t get the timing on their throws. Emory with the disc now and Texas answers with a D, slapping the disc to the ground. Janel Venzant skies the Emory defender on a big huck and then finds her teammate in the endzone to get the first point and the break, 1-0 Texas.

A raindrop. And another. And another. No umbrella in sight.

Emory can’t find any open receivers and multiple turns lead to Texas opening up the lead to 3-0. Luna is starting to tighten up on defense, keeping Melee in their half of the field but keeps shooting blanks on offense. Finally Celine Sledge finds Abby Schuster to get Emory their first score of the game.

Cara keeps barking orders to her team including the play call, “ Hey Janel… (look) Slut! Slut! Slut! Slut! Slut! But the first goal has opened the flood gates for Emory. Chelsea Murphy gets a big layout grab and throws the score to make it 3-2 in which the sideline replies, “She’s a Diver. A diver is really very coordinated.” It turns out Chelsea is in fact on the Emory varsity diving team.

Everything is starting to go Emory’s way. UT finally calls a timeout with Emory up, 5-3. I’m refilling my margarita cup when the familiar “Texas, Texas, YEE HAW!” cheer brings my head up to continue recording the action. Emory tacks on two more before Texas releases a sick downfield huck for their first score in a while. 7-4 Emory.

Emory continues to flow. Schuster gets a bookends goal for 9-4. Becca Shelton on Texas has too much talent for her own good and can’t slow down for her teammates. Emory takes the disc for another score, 10-4.

At 10-5, I am intently watching the skies almost as much as the game. A downed player from the next field has warranted an ambulance being called which means more visual activity going on. I think to myself that the weather has all of the elements of a potential doomsday scenario but I realize I’ve had a quite a few drinks at this point as well. The surrounding area has also gotten a lot quieter as I notice that a lot of the games have finished and the players have already left the fields.

Alex Klein, the rookie speedster from Texas bursts into the open as soon as the disc is pulled, making a quick stutter step to temporarily paralyze her defender. “Up!” is called and disc is intended for her and she’s all clear for the goal, 12-6. Texas is starting to look solid and at form. They get another but it’s too late as Emory finally gets their game point goal for the win 13-7. I stop drinking margaritas temporarily.

Saturday night

(Insert memory here)

Sunday morning

Quarterfinals Illinois v. Wisconsin Hodags

Wisconsin is getting going early, starting their game on time. I’m too late to catch the first points, but in typical Hodag fashion, they are already up 4-0. The two teams trade points and then slow down as teams decide to trade possessions instead.

Wisco gets all the way to the goal line but the immediate score doesn’t come. 1 throw, then 2, 3, 4 go by with no goal. Illinois stymies the Hodags and gets the D as well as a to bring the score to 5-2, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin receiving and Evan Klane gets the disc. He rips a big huck for the score and the Hodags instinctively cheer, “Boom headshot!” Glad to know at least a few people played Counterstrike. It makes me wonder why more people don’t carry knives in their hands since they make you run faster. 6-2, Hodags.

Quarterfinal games are still to 13 so the teams retreat when the Hodags get another score, but the short rest doesn’t slow them a bit as they pick up right where they left off, extending the lead to 8-2.

The Hodags get possession back and Animal puts a up a hospital pass, literally. The Illinois defender puts a hand just before the UW receiver collides with him, forcing the former to take an injury. A couple turns go by but the Illini eventually get the score, 8-3 Wisco. Points are going back and forth. Evan Klane gets another headshot goal and the Hodags are within 3 of a berth in the semifinals.

Illinois is getting dangerously high in the stall count and decides to punt the disc. The Hodag defender has been playing tight D on the mark and gets a little too close to the thrower, fouling him on the punt, which sends the disc back to Illinois. Strong and consistent handling from Denis Agniel gets the Illini past the Wisco D for the score, 10-5.

Wisconsin sets up a 4 man cup on Illinois, but the other boys in blue (both teams are wearing their respective blue jerseys for the game) gets a few fortuitous bounces. A macked disc is inadvertently D’ed when two Illinois receivers both try to catch it, but the rookie Kennedy is there to pick up the trash. Illinois continues its trek downfield and gets a break back to start to make it a game again at 10-6.

Not so fast my friend as Wisconsin stops another potential goal as Alex Simmons gets the layout and the Hodags convert. Another goal and Wisco is one away from winning.

The Hodags force a turn near their own endzone but a dump pass goes wide. Denis doesn’t let the D establish themselves and picks up the disc to throw the quick score, 12-7 Wisconsin. Up next, Kennedy outruns his defender to grab an upline pass and without skipping a beat throws the score back across the field to make it 12-8.

The game is certainly no longer a blowout and with another Illini score, the Great Lakers are playing with more intensity, trying to not let their play be in vain. The Illini D is tight and there isn’t a single throw that goes uncontested. Wisconsin is working hard, as this is what they spend months in cold weather training for, and utilizes the entire field to move the disc. The Hodags get it on the right sideline and swing the disc back to center. The continue opportunity presents itself and the Hodag receivers shift towards the breakside. One gets open and it’s all over. Hodags take it 13-9.

Quarterfinals Georgia Tech Tribe v. Arkansas Ludicrous Speed

The fighting Karl Doeges draw first blood. There is a lot of wind this morning which adds a mild chill to the otherwise sunny day. Tech is chipping away at the Arkansas zone, inching closer and closer until they punch it in, 1 a piece.

Monkey see, monkey do, and both teams are religiously throwing zone defenses. Play is characterized by lots of short high percentage passes with minimal risk. I call it savings account ultimate. Arkansas is getting the bigger return on their investment and take the lead 3-1.

After a Tribe score, Arkansas has the disc and a receiver makes a crafty cut that shakes his defender loose. The handler obliges and releases the disc deep. It’s caught short of the goal and the Hogs call timeout. One throw later and Arkansas leads 4-2.

Tech takes a chance and hucks it towards the endzone. The disc is getting closer and closer to the endzone line as it descends towards both players. The Tech receiver has the advantage and goes for the disc as the Arkansas defender comes up from behind. The catch is made but the players get tangled to put it lightly. In actually, the Tech receiver is more or less tackled from behind. Both players go to the ground and the sideline is silent except for a few “oooooos” and a “Oh, tackle,” in a relatively obvious fashion. All of a sudden a single arm shoots upwards with the disc firmly grasped in the hand much to the delight of the uproarious Tech side. 4-3 now.

The Tribe is rolling now as they regain the lead. Michael Spear throws a large huck to the corner of the endzone and Tech gets another break to make it 6-4, Georgia Tech. Arkansas gets another goal but can’t stop Tech from taking half.

Only after several more points does Arkansas finally answer back. A near grounder to the corner of the endzone makes the score 10-6 in favor of Tech. Tech needs to give up possession for a second to recover and when they get the disc back get within striking range, finishing off with a hammer, 11-6. Arkansas tries to answer back with Matt Jackson at the helm. He sends up a sky high disc intended to enter orbit. The turn goes to Tech. Fortunately the disc is turned again and Arkansas gets a fast break score to make it 11-8.

The teams trade possessions, punctuated with Nick Lance getting full extension on a layout for Tech. The Tribe drives it home and are now one point away from the semis. Arkansas needs something quick and they get from jumping ability of Matt Jackson. He skies two defenders for the score from the first throw from scrimmage.

Georgia Tech now has the disc and for the win. The huck is too far and Arkansas takes over at their own goal line. The possession comes up snake eyes and Tech is five yards from victory. The first upline strike is covered but the extra defender leaves Ethan Edgerton wide open for the second strike and the win, 13-9.

Semifinals Michigan Magnum v. Luther LUFDA

The semifinals for Mardi Gras have been split instead of being played on adjacent fields so I elect to cover the Michigan v. Luther game was has intrigue, especially from a relatively new team that has remained out of the limelight of ultimate. I arrive to the following quote as Will Neff of Michigan scores, “We completely expect that out of you. It’s not that impressive anymore.” Needless to say, the grab was spectacular. 4 all.

Magnum gets another and Luther calls timeout. Luther is suffering a case of the dropsies right now and Michigan will not offer any condolences, taking shots to the endzone. Luther makes a chance of their own and the receiver gets the disc relatively uncontested. Two throws later and they hold serve at 5 a piece.

UM is receiving going downwind and the point is no problem for Double XL O. Luther follows suit and the teams trade points with Michigan at 7-6. Luther is looking to make it a universe point for halftime but a minor hiccup gives Michigan the disc. Michigan completes their first option and then finds Dave Fumo who goes the distance without a defender and Michigan takes half 8-6.

Half time is a mix of intensity, both directed at the teams and weather. The phrase “Let’s focus Michigan! Focus!” is said in the breath and tone as “It’s so nice out! They had six inches snow last in Michigan. Six inches!” There are also a lot of hoarse voices today.

Coming out of the half I’ll avoid the majority of the point which led to a Luther score, but it did rhyme with ,”mopped mull.” Luther continues to hang around with Michigan and capitalize on mistakes, getting another short field to work with to make it 9-8.

Will Neff is one of the best receivers/handlers/players in the college game today, but Aaron Taylor of Luther is giving a run for his money. The matchup is certainly fun to watch. A potentially 50/50 disc is sent in the direction of Taylor and Neff as they run it down, then slow down stop to watch the disc eventually land in the middle of some trees. Michigan takes over and gets the first break of the half 11-8. A goal line drop by Luther and they must call a timeout once Michigan scores.

A Luther player commits a rare offensive foul and both teams are confused about what the count comes in on. I wish I could offer my advice, especially since I’m a Sectional Coordinator, but I don’t know. I guess I have some reading to catch up on this summer. The players come to an arrangement and Michigan gets the score, 12-9. Michigan utilizes their entire bag of throws from a arrant turned score throw from Fumo and goofy upside pass gives Michigan their 14th and 15th points respectively. Game to Magnum.

Final Michigan Magnum v. Wisconsin Hodags

Upon initial look of the field before the tournament began, one could say this was the most likely matchup for the Finals but it’s never a guarantee and that’s why we play the games. Here we are now and these two teams could very well face each other again at Nationals.

Michigan wants it. They want to beat the defending champions and they want to beat them convincingly. They start out 1-0, then 2-0, then 3-0. What is going on? Wisconsin gets a turn and Evan Klane picks up the disc launching a backhand that couldn’t be dropped even if the receiver wanted to, 3-1.

Neff gets too much air on his huck and it’s up to the Double XL D to get the job done. They do and get a goal as well. There is a bit of confusion on the next point, or simply cunning play from Wisconsin. Michigan has the disc and put a receiver who’s too covered to be completed. Both players go to the ground as well as the disc and they are slow to get up but nothing is being called. As the players on and off the field watch and ask if everything is ok, nobody is paying attention to Jim Foster. A Wisconsin player picks up the disc and hucks to a running Foster who’s all alone down field. Everybody else follows suit, also realizing that there was in fact no called stoppage of play. Foster dumps the disc and cuts up line for the score, 4-2 Michigan.

The wind begins to complicate throws and Michigan runs up another couple of scores. Wisconsin goes back to their 4 man cup but Michigan is able to work them backwards and gets another to make it 7-3. Trying to manage the wind at your face is tough and the Hodags are no different. Magnum gets a couple of D’s, and with their third possession call a timeout. It’s no use and Wisconsin gets the disc back. Both teams jockey around half field until Animal utilizes the hammer to the corner, 7-4.

A Hodag catch by Pat Donovan is the cause for an argument as he comes down near the line but before anybody can accurately evaluate his position he takes a step forward and then calls himself in. This is the kind of thing that can turn a game ugly in a hurry. Both teams have arguments that contradict the other. Nevertheless, it’s Wisconsin’s decision. They call goal and spike the disc to the ground. 7-5 Michigan. UM gets another and its time for half.

Coming out of the break, the teams trade points back and forth, making it 9-6, then 9-7 with an upline score to Foster. Calls are becoming more and more frequent but play is also tightening up. Both teams have to work hard on the either side of the disc as to be expected in a game like this. Ollie Honderd makes an impressive grab that was so closely contested that some Wisconsin players thought it was a turn and started cheering. When he got up with the disc, all one Hodag could say was, “Yea. Ok. He caught that. GET UP!” Ollie throws the score, 10-7 Magnum.

Michigan tries to zone Wisconsin and the Hodags shred through it as the game gets more and more emotional with Michigan holding on at 11-9. Michigan gets a lucky break when a receiver is poached by several miles and remains so for the entire duration of the full field huck, getting the easy goal, 12-9. Yet going upwind is still no easy task. Jim Foster seems to be the only person who is pulling effectively upwind and his teammates are feeding off of his energy. An arrant Michigan huck goes wide and Wisconsin gets near the redzone when a pass goes up for Pat Donovan who uses his large frame to haul it in. Wisconsin gets a break back and the gap is only one now at 12-11.

The Hodags pull is tremendous and Michigan can’t stop the roll. They are forced to pick up deep in their endzone and the Hodag sideline is furiously screaming for a Callahan. Magnum is able to get the disc out of their endzone but their hucking game continues to fall short. A few possessions later, Wisconsin gets the equalizer and we have a barnburner.

Michigan is going downwind but they are shadowed relentlessly by the Hodags. Their long ball is no good and Evan Klane shortens the field with a shot of his own. The next throw is the go ahead goal and Wisconsin leads for the first time in the game, 13-12.

Wisconsin looks like the juggernaut they were last season and get another when Jon Gaynor gets a bookend goal to give the Hodags game point.

Michigan is receiving, trying to stop 5 point run so late in the game. Michigan takes a chance but Donovan is there for the poach D. Will Neff gets it, completely smothering the disc and gets up to play handler now. As he sets his feet, he puts a disc the length of the field to a Honderd/Animal matchup. Both players have the skills to outduel each other and leave their feet at the exact same time with Animal getting a monster layout D.

The jitters run high for both teams as the game is at stake. Michigan finally settles down and Neff grabs an upline disc for the goal, 14-13 Wisconsin.

Wisconsin has the disc, and after a couple of initial cuts, there is a stationary moment where nobody is moving, but the stall clock is still ticking. Klane decides to punt where there are a couple of Hodag receivers… and also a couple of Magnum defenders, and even a sideline to contend with. All three elements are converging on each other and at the moment of truth, a Hodag makes the grab in bounds for the goal and the win! 15-13 Wisconsin.

The weekend was fantastic for ultimate, especially in February. From what the TD told me, the tournament would only be on split sites for one more year, so Mardi Gras 2011 should be outrageously awesome. As usual I like to give accolades to someone who displayed excellent play throughout the weekend and for it was Evan Klane of Wisconsin. It seemed like every time he touched the disc it was going to be completed downfield for a goal. Hopefully I’ll be back in Baton Rouge next year to see all the action take place again.