College Nationals Preview – Women’s Division by Grant
May 24, 2009, 1:35 am
Filed under: tournament write-ups

In college ultimate, there are west coast teams, and then there is everyone else. Well the everyone else at Nationals is the cream of the crop and they can certainly make a statement. But the teams in the Southwest and more specifically the Northwest have maintained so much strength over the past decade.

The overall number one seed UC Santa Barbara has come so close to winning the past two years and now look like they could break their streak of consecutive runner up finishes. The Burning Skirt captains summed up their season saying, “While we have had a successful season thus far we are looking to show up strong in Ohio and represent Santa Barbara well. Losing to Ottawa in the Finals at Centex and UCLA at Sectionals were games that motivated our team to work harder and not be content with the two early season tournament wins at Pres Day and the Stanford Invite.” Indeed, those are two of only three losses UCSB has suffered all year. Now there’s only one step left. “We are looking forward to playing on the beautiful fields in Columbus
surrounded by the best teams in the country. We are excited for the great competition and exciting atmosphere that comes with the college championships. We hope to hold seed and finish strong after coming up just short in 07 and 08.” The Southwest was the beneficiary of four bids to Nationals this year so Southern California, Colorado and UCLA are all heading to Columbus. UCLA isn’t quite what it once was in 2006 when they made the finals, but have turned into a mini dynasty in only their 6th year of existence, qualifying for Nationals in the past four. Anna Nazarov may be gone but BLU has a solid group of ladies, notably Adrienne Baker and Katie Falk. Colorado returns after a 3 year absence led by the Waugh sisters and another All Region recipient Courtney Verhaalen. Kali lacks the height of other teams but makes up for it with squirley handlers and the unabashed intentions to layout when necessary. The season has certainly been a grab bag of mixed results, especially the loss to Colorado State at sectionals, but Regionals is where it counts and Kali responded. Southern California is making it for the first time ever, another team started in the early part of the decade in an effort to make gains in women’s ultimate. The Hellions started to make strides towards a National bid a couple of years ago with a new coaching staff and senior leadership from Jess “Venus” Huynh. Now they’ve got a coach of the year in Frankie Rho and positive results when in counts.

The Northwest picture could include 6 teams that all have potential to make the top 8 at Nationals but the teams in focus are Washington, Oregon and Stanford. All are very dangerous threats. Washington, coached by Sockeye standout Ron Kubalanza has lots of talent to work with including Riot members Claire Suver and Shannon O’ Malley and they play heads above their competition. A Northwest regional title is very impressive and certainly guaranteed a number 1 seed at Nationals. Stanford is also back and they are the gold standard in women’s ultimate. 2 time back to back to back National Champions, they train hard and not qualifying for Nationals has only made them train harder. Superfly also had to deal with the graduations of Enessa James, Christina Contreras, Lauren Casey and Lauren Schneider in consecutive years. Now the new crop of girls have experience and will certainly be a threat to make quarterfinals if not further. Oregon is returning back to Nationals after almost pulling a Florida at Regionals but took the third bid again. Fugue matched their loss total of the entire season at Regionals so there is some question marks going into the tournament but they have a Suver twin of their own along with 5th year senior Claire Gordon and some fresh blood from the Eugene high school scene. Former Sockeye standout Lou Burress is in year two of his coaching stint and the girls look sharp. A very dangerous 2 seed.

East of the Rocky Mountains and the teams are less predictable. Wisconsin and Carleton are very recognized out of the central, with Bella Donna producing a Callahan candidate in Georgia Bosscher, not last year’s Callahan winner Courtney Kiesow, who’s still on the team. Carleton takes the second bid like they’ve done the past three years. Syzygy is the female side of the large disc based sports enthusiasm at Carleton and they have consistently made Nationals since 1988, only staying home once in 2003. This year, they’ve struggled at times, especially at Centex but having a soft cushy Sectionals can always offer self confidence leading into Regionals. Iowa State is the new kid on the block and for a perspective on the team I turned to Melissa Gibbs. “When we hit Spring semester, it was really down to the commited players after a brutal winter of beefing up our athleticism and mental game. Around Midwest Throwdown, winning against Carleton and playing our best thus far, the team started to see the rewards of all their hard work. It was then that you started seeing the spark in each of the players.” Indeed, A Women Scorned has only lost to one non National team this year (Emory) and confidence is key especially when you are up against better teams. She added, “We don’t really have much we’re shooting for beyond maintaining seed or pushing beyond. Mostly, I hope we outdo our performance of regionals weekend and play our best out of the whole season (of course). Mostly, we’re meeting up with a lot of teams who are going to stun us in game play difference. I hope above anything we can learn the value of adjusting our playing to what’s happening in the game…so using our intelligence more. It would be a sad day to see us take a step back on such an important tournament. Nonetheless, this is still our first Nationals berth and it is really more of a stepping stone to greater things.” There is a first for everything and Iowa State is finding out what Nationals is like for the first time.

In the South, St. Louis brings not one but two teams from the city. Washington University and St. Louis University both qualified this year. This is Wash U.’s second trip and SLU’s first. Coming from off the radar to Nationals qualifier didn’t happen overnight. “We started out the fall with relatively low expectations–after graduating 5 key seniors we expected this to be a rebuilding year. After getting a look at our new rookies and the three experienced grad students we recruited however, we set out goals on Nationals and haven’t looked back since. Turns out, this was a breakout year for WUWU, and we swept our section and region. This really has been an amazing experience for all of us–making it to Nationals has been a dream for many of us on the team since we started playing–and we look forward to using this experience to fuel our growth in future years. Looking back on the season, Centex was pretty critical for us–we broke seed and took UC Berkeley and Georgia to Universe point (and beat the latter). It gave us a lot of confidence andshowed us we had the skill, determination and mental game to compete with the best teams in the nation,” says Samantha Huo of Wash. U WUWU. Another catalyst for their success has been the addition of their coach, Chung Lee. “He’s been incredibly dedicated, thinking of new plays, helping plan practices and even choreographing our 2nd placing Centex dance. Having him at every practice and tournament has really helped out our captains so that they can focus on their playing and not on calling lines, etc.” Wash. U might be initially awestruck at the teams competing but they are in good company. Saint Louis U took the second bid and they are here for the first time. They have had some very strong successes, winning the women’s Chicago Invite and only losing to Wash U. in the series up till now. “We started out a little shaky when we lost all of our games the first day of Midwest Throwdown(our first tournament of the semester) but then we came back to win the whole thing the following day, with a little help from the wind. Winning Chicago Invite a few weeks later with a solid win over Illinois was a great warm up for Centex. Going into Centex we really were just happy to get the invite and hoped to maybe win a few games so getting 6th there and beating some solid teams was huge for us. Regionals we were short a few players and lost to WashU in the championship game. We knew we had only one more shot at Nationals, and for many of us that meant one last time to all play together on SLULU. Somehow we pulled it out and got the win over Texas,” says SLULU captain Kara O’Malley. Getting this far can be stressful so what does SLU think about being in Columbus. “No one on our team has ever been to Nationals before so we are just looking forward to the entire experience of being a part of the biggest tournament of the year with the best teams in the Nation. And we have a ton of friends and family members coming to watch; since we rarely get to play in front of fans we are definately also looking forward to that!” It’s always a plus when you get to have friendly faces cheering you on at a tournament like this.

In the Atlantic Coast, UNC-Wilmington is back to Nationals for the first time since 2001. When watching Seaweed, look no further than Kelly Tidwell. She’s not tall literally but she’s very tall figurativey and the offense/defense runs through her. After traveling west to Stanford, the Wilmington ladies only lost 1 game, a universe pointer at Easterns to Maryland. The team has already been tested this year beating other National’s qualifiers Colorado and North Carolina-Chapel Hill multiple times. UNC-Chapel Hill got a huge advantage this year with the transfer of stay player Leila Tunnel. Combined with some top flight seniors, the Pleiades can match up with anyone in the country. Neither of these teams have been here since the early part of the decade so all of the players are completely new to Nationals.

In the Great Lakes, Michigan returns for an encore appearance at Nationals and Illinois joins them. The Michigan women, picking up Domino’s Pizza as a sponsor this year, started the season right by romping through Charlotte in the Queen City Tune Up. The coaching staff has geared the women right and players like Katka Bodova and Emily Baecher have excelled for Flywheel, gaining All Region recognition. The other Great Lake state, Illinois may not practice as much or have as large a roster but they do have Tania Retiz and a first time Nationals experience for the team might not mean too many expectations. We’ll have to wait and see.

In the Metro East, Ottawa returns as region champion and has played in more tournaments than just Trouble in Vegas like last year, so they are less of an unknown. The #1 seed is definitely deserved and they have been known to light up the Ultivillage highlight reel from time to time, namely Anne Mercier and Alex Benedict. The team that has to battle with the elements of Canadian winters got to travel to Centex, a warmish weather tournament that must have done wonders for the Lady Gee Gee’s as they ran the table and in Sectionals and Regionals too. Will they bow out in the quarters again or has that inital trip to Nationals gotten past them and they no longer have 1st time jitters.

Another team that might have 1st time jitters is Penn Venus, simply because the players weren’t around in school the last time Venus attended. Not to be discounted, Venus has had their highs and lows this season like everyone else but the important fact is that besides Ottawa, Penn hasn’t played any other Nationals qualifying teams. ” …We’re just looking forward to the chance to play the best teams and players in the country. This is something we’ve been waiting for for literally over a decade, and that many great players at Penn have missed the chance to experience. We all feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to play on such a big stage and hopefully, surprise some teams in the process! Of course, we’re expecting incredible competition, and we know that every game will be a new and exciting challenge. To prepare for this, we’ve been improving the parts of our game that have allowed us to be successful all season–hard, tough, marks, aggressive defense, and chill offense that focuses on maintaining possession and converting near the endzone. We’ve also been tailoring our zone to make it most effective against the top offenses in the country,” says Whiteny Viets. Whitney also says the key to wins this year has been the rookies. “I really credit our incredible rookie class and sideline for our team’s successes. Our freshman quickly developed a love for the game and enthusiasm that is truly rare, and constantly propelled the team to victory whether they were on the field or not. During Sectionals and Regionals, they rushed food and water onto the field between points and never stopped cheering. The attitude of our younger players and enthusiasm and heart of our sideline is truly what drove our team to Nationals this year. I am so excited to see them come into their own as players in the years to come.” Penn might be a perennial player down the road.

Finally, in the Northeast, Northeastern and Dartmouth are heading to Ohio for some disc action. One of the most unknown entries in the tournament, Northeastern, the 5th seed in the regional tournament, swept through bracket play to win the region and make it to Nationals for the second consecutive year. Courtney Moores explained the difference from last year. “The Valkyries came into this season with high expectations. We lost only a few key members from last year’s 9th place finishing team at the College Championships. And we gained a lot of young talent with an improved roster. However, our season up until the UPA Series has been a frustrating one. We have suffered some injuries to key players, and also have had difficulty playing at the level we knew we were capable of. We made trips to both President’s Day in San Diego, and Women’s Centex in Austin, where we had many disappointing losses. However, we were able to use these tournaments as learning experiences. And work on what we had trouble with against the top competition and come together as a team. We were able to refocus as a group and come together at some smaller, local tournaments and get some wins under our belts to get our confidence back. In pool play at Sectionals it looked like we were going to have another disappointing loss to cross-town rival, Tufts, and were able to come back from a large deficit to pull out the victory, and except for one loss to Harvard in the Metro Boston Sectional Final, we haven’t really looked back since. Our last game before the Championships was the final at New England Regionals against Dartmouth, where we went on a 10-3 run to end the game, winning 13-12. This was a huge way to win the Region, and a big boost going into the Championships in Columbus.” The Valkyries knew what they were capable of and now everybody does. Beating Dartmouth in the finals, Princess Layout took the second spot through the backdoor game and come back to Nationals after a year off. The older of the female Titcombs, Rohre, of the 5 Ultimate family, has been instrumental for the team. Despite a harsh Centex, the team has done very well otherwise and there are a lot of players on this team with Nationals experience. They may be seeded low but that could change throughout the course of the tournament very easily.

20 women’s teams all vying for 1 prize.



College Nationals Preview – Open Division by Grant
May 22, 2009, 10:29 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

When the teams take the field in Columbus this upcoming weekend, spectators will be treated to 4 days of the best that college ultimate has to offer. New schools have arrived to make their splash on the scene and old guards have returned to display their prowess and capture the title. There’s no one way to classify the field. At times the competition may look like something from the beginning of the decade. Then again you may turn around and see teams so fresh they werent even in existence the last time their competition made Nationals.

For the first time in 10 years the UPA has restructured the college division enabling 4 more teams to enter the dance. The conclusion of this matter is in no small way a response to the potential division amongst teams through Conference 1. Here we are 7 months later and Nationals still has the same Nationals players in attendance. While pundits might say the UPA was responding to Conference 1, the seeds of this decision might have been planted years ago when the Northwest consistently had more teams in the top 10 than there were bids available to Nationals. Specifically in 2002 when Stanford and UC Santa Cruz took the two bids to Spokane, six other teams from the Northwest were ranked in the top 20. In fact, Oregon who didn’t make it to Nationals finished the year ranked #2 overall behind Stanford who won it all in what has been called one of the greatest teams of all time. And that’s the way the storyline ran for several years in the early half of the decade, becoming fodder for the general rabble on rec.sport.disc (RSD).

Looking at the teams from the Northwest this year, the immediate connection is to 2004, the last time Cal made it to Nationals and Stanford was right there along with them. Back in 2004, a bevy of who’s who in college ultimate studs lined up for Ug Mo. Bart Watson, Gabe Saunkeah, Ryo Kawaoka all made quick work of their opponents before falling in the finals to a strong Colorado team. This year’s Cal team has a different flavor but the talent is still there. The truth is, it’s hard to pick them out of a crowd. These guys are very subdued and generally shy away from the limelight but still excel on the field. “We play and win as a team and although attention is nice at the individual level, it isn’t really important to our team. We don’t really care who thinks who is good. Playing for each other and working for the W together is all that matters,” says Cal co captain Choongil Fleischman. “Our team is very deep and you can’t put our success on the shoulders of any one or two players. If you asked spectators of our games “Who are Cal’s best players” you’d probably hear 9-10 different names mentioned by different people because the contributions are coming from our entire roster. There are a lot of people who deserve recognition for our success, but prefer not to have it.” I could stop there and that would probably be the most publicity the team has gotten all year, but these guys do deserve credit where credit is due, just don’t expect them to feel any weight from the fact that they are about to play in the biggest tournament of the year. “Our preparation for Ohio involves a lot of final exams, writing papers, and participating in random graduations because ours conflict with Nationals (African American Studies is a popular one), but we do what we can when we can.”

So what about their Bay Area brethren? With regards to Mike Gerics, I don’t think the Carolina section can outright claim the title for toughest section in the country when the Bay Area is sending two teams to Nationals, and the other two regional qualifiers, UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis, both finished in the top half in Corvallis. But that’s another story ripe for RSD. The focus here is Stanford. Their record speaks for itself: Six straight years of qualifying for Nationals. Four semifinal berths in those six years, three regional titles in the past eight years, and the 2002 national title. Bloodthirsty is the epitome of an elite program. Although, they too might be considered to once again be a “faceless army.” No longer boasting stars like Nick Handler, Robbie Cahill and Mark Sherwood, the new look Bloodthirsty is in year two of their recruit and promote strategy. All of the young players who made the squad last year line up again and the Stanford roster is loaded with seniors and grad students. Maybe it was just the growing pains of playing in Vegas for the first time, or not getting the benefit of breezy Hawaiian weather, but take away Trouble in Vegas and this team has posted a superb record this season

Speaking of returning programs, NC State is making their first trip to Nationals since 2004, on the 10th anniversary of their championship title. This year’s pack is just as dangerous and have proved they can beat the top competition, knocking off number 1 seeded Florida to make to Nationals and beating Carleton at Centex. “NC State was seeded number one in 2004 and failed to make quarters, so we know from our own history that no team is safe from being knocked out. Even from this season we have seen ourselves beat Virginia 13-6 to lose to them a day later 13-9. Our result in this tournament lies solely in our hands, period. If we lose, we know that there will be no excuses and it will be because they were the better team. When we win, it will be because we played our game.”

Also arriving from the Atlantic Coast, first time attendee, Virginia Night Train has made waves this year while staying primarily on the east coast. While pundits labeled the Wahoos as a contender to take a spot, few could have forseen them winning the region. Now they have a number 1 seed at Nationals and there’s no telling how far they could get. Robert Runner, Tyler Conger, Greg Erikson, and the rest of the cast have proven their might and play a tight game, relying on quick short passes that leave little chance for their receivers and lots of problems for defenders.

Georgia on the other hand is established, will continue to stay established, but the way they get their success is just the damndest thing to figure out. While they may struggle at times, Jojah has managed to come together during the series the past 5 years. They continue to buck expectations and maintain a high level of fun at the same time. “Everyone always has expectations. We expect to do well, no doubt about it. But I think its a healthy expectation. We have learned a lot this season about ourselves. We know that we are very good and hard to beat when we play to our potential. We also know that if we lose focus for the smallest amount of time, we can be beat by anyone. We won’t forget this in Columbus,” says captain Peter Dempsey. He added, “When we are having fun, we win most of the time.”

Stepping back a little further, the last time Illinois and Cornell both won their regions was 2002 and they’ve done it again. Illinois, a somewhat surprise third seed, took the title out from the hands of Ohio State in the finals in which Michigan and Notre Dame were thought of as head and shoulders above the competition. Without the elements interferring, Illinois was promed for a big impact. “There was significant wind at every major preseason tournament (I can think of Michigan and Notre Dame at Huck Finn, Wisconsin at Mardi Gras, I’m sure there were others, where the other team played zone nearly the whole game). being a young team that didn’t get to practice outside until after Centex, those games were hard for us. it didn’t matter how good our D line was when we were giving up multiple short field breaks in a row. The Michigan game at Huck Finn is a perfect example of this. When we got to play them at Regionals, we were more prepared for the wind and were able to play our style, which relies on our depth and athleticism,” says captain Denis Agniel.”

The Cornell Buds could be this year’s Arizona, sans the intense Ultivillage hype as they took the lone open bid at Trouble in Vegas to compete against the elite teams. Afterwards there has been no looking back and the Buds will certainly be capable of beating the best in Columbus. “We know that we don’t have the most impressive record when it comes to playing Nationals caliber teams, but we don’t want people to think that it is because we shy away from these teams. We practice hard and aim to compete with the best. At the beginning of the season we were unsure of the level at which we would be competing but as we gained confidence in our abilities we lost opportunities to play other Nationals level teams (i.e. 2nd day of Terminus getting cancelled, and bailing on Roll Call due to injuries). At Nationals we are all amped for the high concentration of good teams. Everyone on this team knows exactly what needs to be done in order for us to be successful, it is just a matter of implementing those things and staying level headed.” Staying level headed is great but even though best teams don’t go 21-0 from March till now. The Buds are for real.

So, the usual players will be in Columbus. What about the other first timers? Well for one it’s longer, and that’s a good thing. Luther LUFDA is one of the few teams making it this far for the first time and it’s tough to get information about. Even the UPA didn’t have anything to write about them in their series preview. “The season has been one of learning, improvement and conditioning. We always try to become the best team we can be whether it is ultimate knowledge, throwing, or conditioning. It’s also been a season for firsts. We won our first sectional championship and made our first nationals. A pretty memorable season for Luther ultimate, “says Drew Lee. Memorable is appropriate since the team was started in 2003 so some of the guys on this team have been around for the majority of their existence. With a strong showing at Mardi Gras, Luther has continued to get better. Only losing to Wisconsin at Regionals, they might be one of most unknown teams in the tournament. For those of you who don’t know a soul on the Luther line, Drew filled me in on their studs. “Some of our seniors like Isaac White, Sean Keenan and Karl Meunier have contributed with experience and teaching the younger players more about the game. Reid Wilson has been the leader of our defense giving his all every point he’s on the field. Eric Sievers and Aaron Taylor have been consistent cutters for our O-line and have improved their skills tremendously. Ben Kofoed and Eric Johnson, two of our freshmen, have played big roles on the team this year as well. But in reality, everyone on the team has been a vital part to our success this season. Guys have put in a lot of time and effort. We have a smaller team in numbers, and everyone makes a huge difference. We are all great friends who live together, eat together, and our friendships really make the team a fun and positive atmosphere.”

Another first time from the Central region, Minnesota has been on the cusp of greatness for several years, but finally made to the show. I’m sure the fellas in Minneapolis we’re ecstatic when they found out their region was getting four bids to nationals this year but that doesn’t dilute their talent level or results. Take away a miserable trip to Vegas and Atlanta for Terminus, and Grey Duck has performed well. Michael Arenson has a year of Sub Zero experience underneath his belt and the rest of the Gopher lines aren’t slouches either. This team has speed and a great coach in Charlie Reznikoff. With the bottom seed in the tournament, there is no where to go but up.

The majority of the teams who are playing are the programs who have had a stranglehold on the competition for many years. No where is that more apparent than the Southwest region. Colorado has dominated the region for the past decade and UC Santa Barbara is ultimate royalty, making it back for the first time since 2006. UC San Diego has come on strong in the past few years, highlighted by a semifinal performance in 2005, but I’m sure Match Diesel could illustrate a much richer picture of his alma mater. Nevertheless, the Squids are a power and a finals appearance at their home tournament made people take notice. Winning the So Cal section returned to focus to Squids and proved that they could sustain their success all year long. Colorado is certainly one of the favorites to win it all this year and pull off a “double” if Mac Taylor wins the Callahan award as well. If Taylor wins the award, Mamabird has got to feel good about their chances if they are still alive the next day, considering the last time that happened, they won it all in 2004. UC Santa Barbara has a penchant for flexing their might roughly every ten years and this year could be the start of another great western dynasty to match those of the late 80’s and 90’s. Jeff Silverman has been the dominant reason they’ve returned to Columbus and if rest of the Tide can match his effort, UCSB will be flashing the blue and yellow jerseys all weekend.

Speaking of ultimate royalty, Carleton has been on fire this season, and now possess the overall number 1 seed. The campus has embraced the Frisbee in all its forms echoed by Dan Curme, “Frisbee in general is huge at Carleton. The IM leagues arebig with hundreds of participants, in multiple levels of play. We have 3 mens teams, CUT, GOP and the Hot Karls, as well as two women’s teams: SYZYGY and ECLIPSE. Without exaggeration, on any given nice day, you will find no less than ten Frisbees being thrown around campus or on the quad. I think the best way to sum it up is that people of all levels/skills of Frisbee can and do find a way to enjoy playing the game and everyone embraces that aspect of our school.” This in turn has lead to Carleton being the unquestionable representative of small school ultimate programs. They train hard, practice hard, and are a constant threat to their opponents. It doesn’t hurt when you attract the best talent either. “On O, without a doubt, Grant Lindsley and Chris Kosednar. Grant’s cutting and knowledge of the game has lead us out of holes and to big wins. He is the most cold-blooded player I have ever seen: nothing gets in his head, he always plays hard. CK is unbelievable. He can break any mark, has pristine hucks from both sides, and is the anchor of the O line. He’s also our captain and has lead us in practice and off the field as well… On D Sam Kanner and Christian Foster. Both Amherst kids. Kanner guards other team’s best players, and shuts them down. He’s an awesome handler and the other captain. His word carries weight. Christian’s fundamentals are amazing. His D is intense and his O is solid. When these two are playing well, the D line gets breaks and converts 80%.” Having lost a total four games but twelve points combined, CUT is back on top.

Wisconsin never left the top. After graduating one of the most star studded classes in recent history, Sub Zero East is still in the hunt. It certainly didn’t seem that way after a temoultous Trouble in Vegas. Captain Tom “Animal” Annen says, “Trouble in Vegas, since it came to be, has been a very tough tournament for the hodags to win. Since it is always the first tournament of the spring season and the first time we throw outside since november, we have many kinks that we usually have to workout that… The difference this year was obviously our inexperience, unlike past years we had to take a step back and spread the playing time around and work on fundamentals a little more.” Sounds like a recipe for success and the Hodags have had little trouble gathering wins the rest of the way. The main reason is you can’t stop a team that is comprised of a lot of guys who constantly train when there’s too much snow on the ground to function. “[Brandon] Muffin [Malecek] and Hector [Valdivia] have helped through the year giving advice to players all across the board, They have been working with the new players while still making sure that the studs are getting better and getting the job done. Hector has brought new ideas about Ultimate that we have utilized the whole season, Muffin too has refocused his energy into this team and the program to improve every player to push everyone to be the best (more physical and smarter) player on the field.” Hodag Love is in full effect.

Rounding out the Great Lakes (Great Times!), Michigan, a preseason favorite, found a way to make a return trip to Nationals after a nail biter against Notre Dame and then again against Ohio State. Not getting the opportunity to play in great weather year around, the thought of ending to season before the end of May must have been too great for Magnum. Having a Callahan contender in Will Neff doesn’t hurt either. “Will is an incredible leader. He and I were captains last year, so i think having 2 returning captains has helped make for a stable transition to this new leadership group. I can’t really compare to the other Callahan nominees, but i can say that Will is an inspiring player. He brings a fire that is impossible to resist, and leads with both his words and his incredible play on the field. He knows that he is surrounded by a core of great players and doesn’t have to carry the team on his shoulders, which i think allows him to excel at his own game,” says Ben DeLand. If there is one critical moment in the season for Magnum, it has been Centex, as that tournament has been the crucial point in the season for the Wolverines. “We have always looked at Centex as our first BIG tournament of the year, and get pretty pumped for it. As far as earlier tournaments, I think we don’t perform as well because we are more focused on building a team identity getting each player into his “niche”. This was our first year attending the Stanford Invite, and i don’t think we performed as well as we could have because our first “big tournament” focus is typically Centex.”

This leaves us with the New England and South regions. New England has a handful of teams that could make Nationals in any given year and this year, it’s Tufts and Williams. Both have been here before but Tufts hasn’t been in quite some time, making Nationals experience limited for the E men. The program as a whole is one of the original programs and have lots of tradition, if there is such a thing in Ultimate. “Every year since 1988 the E-Men have gone on a road trip down south for spring break, and while I know that a spring break trip is not unique to Tufts Ultimate, I think it’s pretty special that we’ve gone every year since the late 80’s. Also, this isn’t so much a tradition as us paying homage; but our white jerseys this year are based off of a very old design, one of the original T shirt designs,” says Andrew Hollingsworth. This year’s Tufts team isn’t merely excited to attend Nationals for the first time since 2002, they are ready to compete. Andrew added, “I think the team is excited to be going, but not just satisfied to be there. Last year we lost twice in the games to go and that definitely stung. And even though we lost several major impact players from last year, the returners were hungry.” Defeating Williams in the finals, taking the New England region is no small feat. Williams is just as competitive. With wins over Georgia, Stanford and Tufts this year, these guys can hang with the best, but nobody can forget that they are fun to play with as well. “We’re confident that we are better than our seed suggests and will finish much higher than 19th. In 2007 we were a textbook “happy to be there” team where as this year we are a little more ambitious. Of course we’re still absolutely psyched to be going.” Dre Martin also added, “We won the Spirit Award in 2003 and trying to win it again in 2007 was one of our goals. We are proud of winning in 2003 and we continue to try to play with good spirit but this year we have not emphasized the award really at all. It would be great to win it again but we are more interested in winning games.” Getting this far just proves the commitment of these guys are their dedication to playing well while having fun and without a coach no less.

The South is a bit of a one trick pony. Texas and Kansas. With the exception of North Texas making it to Boulder last year, these two teams have dominated the South for eight years. Despite graduating a significant amount of players, Texas has still maintained it’s throne in the South region. Coach Calvin Lin commented, ” We’ve definitely struggled a bit this year against top tier competition, perhaps because we effectively have just 8 guys returning from last year’s squad. (We technically have ten returning players, but two have been injured all season.)… We work all year to peak at Regionals (and hopefully Nationals), and we’ve had a bunch of good teams that have typically fought really hard, which has allowed us to win a bunch of close games even after falling behind.” It’s never a good idea to count this team out and it sounds like they are peaking at the right time. The prerequisites are all there. Established program: check. Large school from which to draw athletic students: check. Callahan contender: check. Stephen Presley is a potential winner and proved it by beating Kansas in the regional final. But the Zontals are back and have a win streak entering the tournament including going undefeated at Huck Finn despite not even playing for the title. Kevin Kelly explains, “We still were holding out hope that the TD’s would go to opponent strength of schedule so that we would clearly make finals. When the brackets went up and we were only playing for 5th place, a handful of players on our team got upset, but myself and my co-captains brought everyone in and got the team collected. Our season’s goal was never to win Huck Finn, it was to win Nationals, the tournament allowed us to play great competition all weekend and develop as a team. So, after a short shock, we focused ourselves on winning the 5th place game and we have no ill will about the decision.” The only loss, to Texas in the regional final, ended on universe point so the Zontals are still riding high going into Nationals. “Texas scored on offense, then capitalized on an errant throw the very next play to tie things at 14. We then traded to 15’s. Game point saw both teams turn the disc multiple times due to incredible defensive efforts. After a big D by Texas, the hard cap went off. Texas was patient running their endzone set and punched the disc in for the win.” The Zontals are back and add to the heightened level of competition this year.

20 teams all vying for the title and nobody is eliminated on the first day. The schedule will certainly cater to the best of all the teams and the action will be great to watch.



Thumper by Grant
May 19, 2009, 1:54 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Sneak preview photos of Thumper

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Look for Thumper at College Nationals this weekend. Stay tuned for more coverage of the teams attending!



Atlantic Coast Regionals Day 2 – Men’s and Women by Grant
May 2, 2009, 4:04 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Championship Bracket Semifinals

Florida Gators v. Virginia Night Train

Florida is pulling to Virginia. Greg Eriksen gets the disc and puts it to Tom Licitra. Virginia scores sooooo quickly. Florida takes custody now and Brodie looks to set the tone of Florida’s offense early by faking a flick to draw his defender over, then launches one of his big backhands but Tyler Conger gets to the disc first. Virginia goes back to their characteristic routine of working the disc up the field with short quick passes and get a goal with a disc up the middle, 2-0 Night Train.

Jesse Macadangdang is in the receiver slot when Virginia gets another turn and the disc goes up for him. With the best position on the disc, it’s a no brainer catch but he initially bobbles the disc and it starts to sail away but he stays with it and gets the falling over grab for the second chance goal. Florida finally gets on the board when Miguel is fouled in the endzone. Gator disc on the goal line and it’s no sweat. 3-1 Virginia.

Virginia and Florida stick with their tried and true methods, going back forth until Virginia gets another break, when the Night Train handler’s hand and disc get met by defender’s hand. There’s still enough rotation on the disc to travel far enough for Robert Runner to track it down and grab the score, 6-2.

Florida’s disc now at they are inching closer and closer upfield. Brodie finds one of his favorite targets, Cole Sullivan, cutting to the corner just like it was an endzone drill, 6-3. Virginia goes back to work, running their offense and a moment of confusion causes the handler to throw a disc to a space where there is no Night Train receiver. Runner is able to make it to the unintentional disc in time and rips it to Eriksen, 7-3 Virginia.

Both teams are taking lower percentage chances now and it doesn’t look like the start of the game anymore. Florida is relying on their veterans to work the disc amongst Brodie, Cole, Gibson, and Travis Catron. Brodie gets the disc and looks deep, but his huck is too far. Virginia takes over on the endzone line but Florida gets the D and Brodie cuts breakside for the score, 7-4. Timeout is called.

Virginia looks a little shaky for the moment, which is the only time, as far as I can tell, all weekend. Florida gets a break and suddenly it’s a close game. Virginia is turning over near the goal and the Gators go back to work again, trying to make a bid to take half. Florida works it back and forth on the left side of the field and the Brodie gets it on the live side and releases a absolutely spectacular looking hammer right to Travis Catron… but the disc bounces off his hands completely unguarded! Virginia goes for field position if nothing else and sends it long, but Tyler Conger is there and is able to run it down catching on the goal line and making the subsequent throw to take half, 8-5.

Virginia gets one to start the second half and Florida wants Brodie to play deep. A huck goes up for him and he’s making his move towards the disc. Peter Van de Burgt is the only defender, and everyone has their eyes locked on the matchup as Brodie comes in for the attack on the disc but Peter goes up too and comes down with plastic in his hands and suddenly the disc is going the other way! Tyler gets it centered near the goal and throws an easy high release forehand live side for the goal, 10-5 Virginia.

With Florida only hanging on by a thread, the teams trade points with the Gators finding Gibson and Miguel, but Virginia is staying at arm’s length away, leading 12-7. During the next point the horn sounds, and the end is near. When Tyler Healy turfs the disc, Florida picks up and sends to Miguel again. Despite his speed he can’t quite shake Jesse Macadangdang, so he jumps up to beat him high for the score. 12-8, game to 14.

Tom Licitra drops an easy goal trying to make it one handed and the Gators get the break, completing a huck to Chad Dahne, who gets the disc back after a reset and throws to Zach Floyd. Break to Florida.

Yet Tom gets redemption on the very next point, being sure to make the grab with two hands this time and Virginia is one goal away from making it to Nationals. Florida tries a 1 shot, 1 kill throw to get points quickly, but the throw sails out of bounds. Runner picks up and throws to Conger who’s all alone. All eyes are on him and it’s so quiet you can hear the cameras clicking away as he eyeball’s the disc and the back line. Conger makes the falling over grab but it’s too close to call from this vantage point. He gets up and looks towards the observer who motions… IN! UVA wins 14-9 and they are celebrating tonight.

Georgia Jojah v. NC State Wolfpack

Georgia is pulling to State. Evan Bowles finds Ken Porter for the point so quickly, the other game hasn’t even started yet. Georgia wants to respond just as fast and the disc is moving too swiftly for the stack to keep up so the disc is dumped and reset. Josh Lowell is open up the middle and the teams are all square.

Georgia turns the tables on point trading, getting a break by hammering the disc to the redzone and getting a throw off just past Stephen Panasty for the score. State gets back to their scoring ways with perfect shot to Tom Ward who gets in the back corner 2-2.

Neither team can pull away as they go back and forth. Robert Herrig gets one for Georgia. Paul Johnson plays like he’s 6’5″ and grabs a goal over a taller defender. At 5-4, State looks like they are going tie once again but Cam Bevington throws too high and UGA immediately sends it to a streaking Brian Inkrot. With only one defender for two receivers, Inkrot has no trouble finding the open throw, 6-4 UGA.

Jojah starts to roll as the points are only added in their column. 7-4, then 8-4 at half. NC State is sticking with their zone defense for the most part but a UGA handler gets a cross field hammer off and the cup is beat. Jojah manages to keep the disc one step ahead of the Wolfpack defenders and they go all the way to 9-4.

Sensing the game is in hand, Jojah starts to open up their lines more, but that doesn’t stop the new crop of Redcoats from displaying their skills. Brian Walter makes a big grab with three white shirts all around, but confusion stops the play just after Brian throws the disc away. Injury is called, negating the throw away and UGA has another chance. The dawgs call a timeout and set up an isolation play. The Pack is on the lookout and neutralize the first play but a dump and swing gets the disc in, 10-4.

There’s no stopping these guys as they get two more before State can answer back. Porter runs down a huck uncontested to make it 12-5. Georgia’s turn and I witness a moment of offensive beauty. Tom Morris has the disc on the left side and a call is made. Tom backs away for a second, then ready’s himself. 3…2…1… Disc in… and then nothing. Not a sound is made from anyone or the disc as Morris puts up a picture perfect huck that both players and spectators can’t help but just watch. Except for David Benkeser who makes the easy grab in the endzone, 13-5.

The teams take a point from each other and suddenly State wants to make a game of it. The Pack goes the distance with quick short throws, 14-7. Then Bobby Jones hits Paul Johnson short to make it 14-8. Unfortunately it’s too little too late. Peter Dempsey is in for UGA and he hits the freshman Caleb Edwards for the winning goal sending Jojah to Nationals for a 5th straight year. The final is 15-8.

Women’s Final

UNC-Chapel Hill Pleiades v. UNC-Wilmington Seaweed

Jessica Patrick gets rocked after making the grab near the goal line and has to take an injury. Wilmington is only 3 yards out so a throw to Sara Casey is no sweat. Seaweed strike first, 1-0. The Heels return the favor, going the length of the field themselves and finding Ashley Barfield up the middle to tie it, 1-1.

Both teams are staying turnover free until now, but Pleiades start to turn up the heat on defense. Chapel Hill stops two Wilmington drives but can’t hang onto the disc near the endzone. Wilmington punts their next possession and play close defense to stop any potential threat. The plan works and then Kelly “Tiddy” Tidwell grabs a floaty disc to regain the lead, 2-1 in favor of Wilmington.

Both teams have abandoned structured under cuts and are taking high risk shots downfield. Wilmington finally calms down, walks to the disc, and begins to move the disc methodically until Casey puts up a 25/25/25/25 shot to the endzone. The larger than life Tiddy reads the disc better than the other potential receivers and is able to grab it over taller players. Wilmington is up 3-1 and Chapel Hill calls timeout.

Tiddy gets another big grab for a goal to preserve the 2 point lead, 4-2. With Wilmington staying out in front, the Darkside players, who recently were eliminated from competition, have shown up to support their women and heckle Wilmington. The Pleiades seem to be feeding off of the Darkside energy. They get the D and Kaitlin Baden catches a goal, getting redemption for being beaten deep earlier. But Chapel Hill doesn’t stop there. After Wilmington gets another, Jill Simmerman has the disc, looking for an open receiver. A look left, but there’s nobody there. She cuts back and looks right, but again there’s nobody there. Another look to the left and she’s got a wide open receiver, 5-4. UNC builds a mini streak, getting another when the Pleiades receivers cut left and right giving the handler lots of opportunities. The game is back to even at 5-5.

The Pleiades pick up the intensity of D as well, forcing another turn. They swap possessions with Wilmington but keep the disc in their favorable side of the field. Once they get it back, they use the short field to take their first lead of the game. Darkside might or might not be getting into the heads of the Wilmington players on offense, but I’m sure it can’t be helping Seaweed.

There are a lot of spectators walking the sideline of this game. Raj Prasad of Ring of Fire makes a point to have me meet THE Jeff Martin, former Irate and current Los player, but it’s back to game time. Wilmington is getting everything under but the Seaweed handler feels confident going deep and the disc is D’ed. Leila Tunnel on UNC-Chapel Hill plays large on defense, providing a big presense for Pleiades. The Tar Heel women can’t hang on and Seaweed goes back to their offense revolving around Tidwell. Tiddy puts up a sky high huck to Meg Young for the score in the corner.

UNC-Chapel Hill is threatening to take half and they do so with intensity. They move the disc swiftly downfield needing only one reset. Tunnel gets the disc and finds Karen Kimel to take half, 8-7.

The Pleiades also get the disc to start the second half and neglect to turn it. A deep shot to Erin Wiltgen works and Chapel Hill leads, 9-7. At this point, the observer feels the Darkside heckling has gone on too long, issuing their side a warning. The boys promptly quiet down and go back to their adult beverages.

Without a constant voice in their ears on offense, Wilmington goes the distance finding Tiddy in the endzone, 9-8. Seaweed starts to flow, using the left side for under cuts then putting the disc into space over the stack for the tie. They roll right along utilizing an overthrown Pleiades pass to score in just three throws. All of sudden, Wilmington is back in control, 10-9.

Both teams are playing great defense which is leading to lots of long points where it seems like the only option is to put it deep. Chapel Hill has the disc and Tunnel is poached by a wide margin. Her handler responds and the disc is sailing through the air as both O and D players get underneath to make a bid. Tunnel gets tripped up and calls foul. The violation stands but Tunnel has to take an injury. Chapel Hill takes the goal line disc and gets it to Barfield for the score.

The horn sounds just after Pleiades get a break to regain the lead, which means it will be a squeaker to win this region. Pleiades have a chance to make the game go to 14 but Wiltgen can’t hang on. Both teams have tired legs so even shorter passes are harder to run down, leading to turns by both sides. Wilmington tries and hammer to the endzone and the disc plops down into Seaweeed hands, which means its a game to 13 according to the score reporter but in actuality, it’s a winner take all, game to two.

Chapel Hill is receiving and suddenly they look quite fresh. The Pleiades go up the live side, turn to dump to Tunnel and another cutter comes under for the goal. The Tar Heels are one point away from going to Nationals.

Wilmington is not going away yet. Jessica Patrick makes a big grab over Ashely Barfield and then finds a sliding Tidwell in the endzone setting up Universe Point. The Pleiades are receiving for the win, but oh no. They can’t hang on and Wilmington has it. A pass gets some yardage under it and it’s intended for who else by Kelly Tidwell. She’s sandwiched between to Chapel Hill players but still gets enough altitude to make the spectacular grab. There’s no time to celebrate as she’s not in the endzone yet. With all available Pleiades defenders on the ground, Tiddy cuts the disc away from danger and one more pass seals the deal for Wilmington. Seaweed win, 13-12.

Women’s Backdoor Bracket

UNC-Chapel Hill Pleiades v. Wake Forest Ruckus

After just losing in the finals, UNC will have to remain focused in order to make it to Nationals. Leila Tunnel starts the game right for the Pleiades, laying out to save possession, then using that move liveside. UNC 1, Wake Forest 0.

UNC almost gets a break when Ruckus turns it, but the Pleiades can’t make it past half field and WF holds serve. North Carolina responds with a huck to Erin Wiltgen. Wake Forest almost starts out with a deficit but Kennedy Wolfe is the go to girl and gets a score to tie the game back up, 3-3. UNC calls timeout.

Wake Forest tries a zone on UNC coming out of the time out but it’s too porous and they try to switch back to man. The transition isn’t quick enough. UNC scores with a disc to the right corner. Ruckus mimics the last point with a goal to the right corner of their own.

Both teams are evenly matched and can’t pull away. They continue to trade points. Cameron Sisler is compressed between two UNC defenders but gets a hand in between them to grab the disc and still manages to hang on, 6-6. Wake Forest stays close, but UNC takes half 8-7.

Wake is receiving and they get close to the goal but Karen Kimel handblocks Claire O’Brien. UNC sends it deep but too much arm goes into the throw and it’s uncatchable. UNC forces a WF turnover and gets the disc to go up 9-7.

Jill Simmerman runs down a hanging disc and is ecstatic to score, to which the WF coach mutters, “It can’t be that fucking easy.” NC leads 10-8. The Pleiades get another break and Wake has to call a timeout before things get out of hand. Ruckus tries to play their game, especially with Claire behind the disc and last year’s freshman of the year Kennedy Wolfe playing for the first time in the series. Suzanne Willis is able to get position on her opponent underneath and gets a D. Tunnel calmly walks to the disc and without even looking, picks up and throws deep to Suzanne all in one motion. 12-8 UNC.

Claire O’ Brien gets one back for Wake, getting the goal, but UNC rattles off two more, with Leslie Peck getting behind everybody downfield to make it 14-9. UNC is pulling for the win. Claire gets the disc and her pass is too long for her receiver. The Pleiades begin their long march to the goal. The cutters are getting open under and Heather Zimmerman gets the disc near half field. When she turns around, she sees Peck deep and takes the shot. Peck has a defender to her right as the disc goes outside then comes back in and she goes after it first, making the catch! But wait. There’s a conversation taking place, and then only elation from the UNC sidelines as the goal stands, sending the Heels to Columbus, 15-9.

Men’s Backdoor Final

Florida Gators v. NC State Wolfpack

Both of these teams carry themselves with a high degree of professionalism. Both have shed past club team names in favor of the school mascot and colors. Both have put names on the backs of their jerseys. Both keep their pants on while they play.

While my people didn’t expect Florida to be in this position, they will have to play their game if they want to go to Nationals. I spoke with Brodie very briefly before the game and he let me know he’s not feeling well. He’s been suffering from a fever this past weekend and the heat this weekend has been getting to him. It certainly explains why he didn’t see any action in the last half of the Virginia game, and minimal to none in the Tennessee game.

He starts the game right for Florida. With Ken “KP” Porter deep to cover Brodie, the disc goes up and Brodie comes down with it for the score, 1-0 Florida. Tom Ward gets the first goal for State and sends the disc sky high. The Pack has lots of energy early but we’ll see how long it lasts.

Florida continues with their deep game, putting it to Chris Gibson this team. The catch is no sweat when Derrick Marcey misreads the disc, pausing to go up for it, then realizing it’s too far over his head to touch but now it’s too late to chase it down.

The Gators come down in a zone set, and State is trying to lull them to sleep with quick short throws back and forth. Then a throw gets through the cup and it’s off to the races. Bryan Conklin hits Ward for the score.

Then, the unexpected happens. State gets the first D of the game. Brett Matzuka picks up. He looks, spies a target, then hammers to the corner for Marcey. State has broken Florida to take the lead 3-2. The Pack inundate the field with excitement.

Florida needs to equalize and they continue to try and win the 1 on 1 matchups. A disc goes up for Chad Dahne with Matzuka up against him. Both players bid at the same time and the levitation they get is cause for lots of ooohs and aaahs from the crowd (In actuality, it sounded more like, “HOLY SHIT!”) as Matzuka comes down with the D, but is forced to take an injury. The possession is no good as Florida regains custody. Geoff Chiles hits Brodie, and it’s 3-3.

Ward continues to look very sharp, grabbing a goal high in the air for State. Both teams go back and forth with the disc and it’s State getting better of Florida again with a goal to Marcey as the Pack roar with approval, 5-3 NC State.

State regains possession again but drop a somewhat easy disc. Brodie finds Cole for the easy score. With Florida pulling, Alton Gaines makes his presence known, getting a big D which the Gators turn into a score, getting a break back, 5-4.

Here comes Florida. Zach Floyd runs down a long upside down pass and finds one of four Gator receivers who made the trip with him. The Gators are making it look easy, now back on serve, 6-5. The teams go back and forth and it looks like it will be close at half but Florida gets a turn when Conklin doesn’t see a poached Gibson. Gaines gets up for the disc and Florida clinches half, 8-6.

The teams regroup, as there is potentially only a few more points in the season. State is receiving and use their possession fully, with Matzuka putting a perfect disc where Conklin is and Florida ain’t. Ryan McCann almost stops Florida in their tracks near their own goal line but Matzuka D’s the subsequent huck. State turns the disc, probably so Matzuka could get another D and he does. He tries a full huck of his own but the disc never goes in bounds. Cole takes possession for Florida near the goalline. He dumps to Brodie, who passes back, then cuts upline for the goal, 9-7 Florida.

State returns the favor then Florida goes back to their deep game. Round 2 for Brodie and Porter. Brodie jumps. KP jumps. Brodie then turns his body in mid air to extend the length of a jumbo jet to get the grab over KP. Plays stops for a second, and Brodie isolates Gibson. The younger Gibson acknowledges and goes to the opposite corner as Brodie hammers it to him. Florida cracks double digits, 10-8.

NC State has to start making moves again and they do. Conklin skies Gaines and throws a near grounder but Gerics says up, 10-9. Florida gets close to scoring next but Chris Kelly gets the goal saving D and State is going the other way. An awkward throw forces KP to change directions and do his thing. With his defender on the ground, Porter finds Chris Prosser all alone and gives him lots of space to run down the disc. 10-10.

Florida gets their goal, then State gets one two as the teams inch closer to a thrilling finale. Florida’s receiving and works a homie amongst Brodie, Gibson and Chiles. It’s working and they are about to score but the disc can’t make it to the last Gator. KP puts it to Marcey. Gibson gives it a shot, but can’t get the D. State has great field position, warranting a time out. Meanwhile, Gibson has to take an injury. Bowles takes possession from Marcey and he gets it to Matzuka. Matzuka, like he’s done all game, hammers it to Kelly and NC State once again takes the lead, delightfully late in the game, 12-11.

In the midst of the all the on field excitement, the horn sounds. This is a game to 14. Florida obliges with throw to Alex Hill, to Chiles, to goal. All square and it’s a game to 2.

The Florida defense sets it self to not allow anything deep and force NC State to make a mistake under, but the Pack puts it to KP anyways. The Gators attack him to try and stop him from getting the disc but he comes down with it anyways. Conklin is left wide open and KP gets a perfect throw. They are within one of returning to Nationals.

There are a lot of murmurs throughout the crowd as people are starting to realize the implications of this point if NC State can indeed pull off the upset. Florida fields the disc and then looks left to Cole Sullivan. Ward has other plans and comes in for the D! Cole initially calls foul, but as both players come to their feet, he retracts his statement and the disc stays with State. The disc is well within distance of a mildly easy throw, especially with Matzuka picking up. Without the suspense of calling timeout, State has to work it now, and after watching Matzuka the whole game, there was only one throw on his mind. He looks down the live side then throws a hammer with a quick snap of the wrist to a poached KP who’s reaching up with both hands to grab the disc and celebrate at the same time. There’s nobody around him and the cheers have begun as NC State wins 14-12! On the 10th anniversary of NC State’s only Title, and 5 years since they’ve been to Nationals, the folks in Raleigh are all smiles. Is the Jinx on for the rest of the teams in Columbus?

Despite constantly having to give up fields on Sunday for soccer games, the tournament was very well run and the weather was spectular, in a precipitation sense. I got to see some amazing plays and possibly a Callahan winner. As usual I like to identify the players who I saw, were the most instrumental to their team’s success. Since this is the Regional tournament, here’s my starting seven:

Robert Runner – This guy is cooler than Miles Davis at the North Pole. I never once saw him panic, flip out, do anything stupid, and he carried a strong silent demeanor the whole weekend that kept his team focused. He absolutely knows how to run an offense to perfection and that is why Virginia was relatively unchallenged with the disc this weekend.

Tyler Conger
– Another spectacular handler, cutter, jersey wearer, etc. You name it, he did it all this weekend. Spectular grabs deep are just a piece of his arsenal in addition to providing a backbone to the Night Train handling unit. Wherever you need him on the field, he will do it and do it well.

Ken Porter – This guy elevates, as he spends more time in the air than on the ground. There aren’t too many discs that get away from him and they are usually poor throws that land several fields over. He successfully laid out, skied, and even threw a few scores to get his team to Nationals. Well, ok more than a few. After first seeing him at CCC last November, it was apparent that he was catalyst to his team’s success.

Tom Morris – There is a lot of chatter about Peter Dempsey and his leadership on the Georgia squad, but Tom Morris played outstanding this weekend. He fought hard to get open and if it was brute strength that he used to get discs as they were coming in, his passes were silky smooth, making it tremendously easy for the rest of the team.

Brodie Smith – He was ill. His play was also ill. On Saturday and Sunday you could still find him jumping over people in large doses as well as jack discs out of the stadium. There is a reason Florida’s offense runs through him, because he is a game changer. Some might question his attitude, but on the field, you can plug him into any team and they will instantly be better.

Ben Tincher/Michael Slade – I couldn’t decide between these two Clemson guys. Both played exceptional, and with a better supporting cast, could have been potentially very dangerous. The combo of these guys was still enough to make some of the National qualifying teams look silly at teams. Whether it was Tincher hucking to Slade or vise versa, these guys have the height and athleticism that make ideal players.

The last spot is a toss up as there were several players that I feel I would want right here but I’d have to go with Alan Kolick of William and Mary. Of the limited time I saw WMD play, Kolick was in absolute control. When he had the disc, he was going to score, and that happened quite a few times.

I’m sure Rusty Ingold-Smith had an outstanding weekend, but I didn’t get to see him play. That doesn’t take away his contributions for the season as I have mentioned in earlier posts. I’m sure he will get All Region accolades.

See everyone in Columbus!