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

courtesy of clemsonultimate.com

courtesy of clemsonultimate.com

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.



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.



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.