2013 Utah High School State Championship Recap
Posted: June 19, 2013 05:37 PM
2013 was full of milestones for Utah high school ultimate, so before recapping the Utah State Championships, it's worth noting the big jumps that were made this year.
For the first time, in recognition of the geographic spread of teams and to create the framework for future growth, the new Utah Ultimate Disc Association (UUDA) divided the state into North and South regions and imposed regulations such as the requirement that all teams have USA Ultimate-certified coaches. A schedule of tournaments was created, culminating in the North Super Region and South Super Region Championships, which would determine the field for the State Championships. Nineteen teams would enter, but only eight would move on to the next level.
The top half of these tournaments went pretty much as predicted, with Sky View and Lone Peak easily cruising to victories in their respective regions, and the second and third spots going essentially to seed. The battles for the final, coveted spots in the state tournament, though, proved to be dogfights with upsets galore. In the North Regional, Skyline clawed back from a disappointing first day of pool play to upset Judge Memorial on universe point to qualify for States. In the South, newcomer Timpview rose from their seventh seed to wrest the final spot at States from Lone Peak's C team, apparently having decided that two Lone Peak teams in the tournament was enough.
Spring weather in Utah can be highly unpredictable, but what likely could have been predicted was that it would take a turn for the worse the weekend of the championships. Friday and Saturday were both cool and blustery with occasional showers but, thankfully, no lightning to delay play. Both pools went according to seed, with Lone Peak only allowing six points in three games. Sky View cruised as well after overcoming a surprisingly challenging first game against a tall and athletic first-year Layton squad. The highlight of Friday’s play was the first-ever Utah State High School Championship girls' game between North and South combo squads. The South team, somewhat of an all-star group of Lone Peak and Sky View girls, along with star handler Heidi Zundel of Timpview, took the first Utah Girls Championship game 11-2.
In the first round of the championship bracket, all games went according to seed again with the exception of the Lone Peak B v. Pleasant Grove match up in which the latter pulled off a 15-12 upset to advance to the semifinals where, unfortunately, they were destined to play Lone Peak. On the other side of the bracket, Layton's relative inexperience led to a short game against Sky View. However, they would go on to avenge that loss with a 15-6 victory over Pleasant Grove in the third-place game, a remarkable feat for a first-year team. In the fifth-place game, Lone Peak B eventually triumphed over a highly athletic Bingham team.
The final, then, would be a repeat of the previous year's championship in which Lone Peak scratched out a victory over a gritty Sky View. The game started on an emotional note as senior Beca Bowen, leader of the Sky View team, lined up for her final game on crutches and with a brace around a knee that she'd blown out a few weeks earlier. After the opening pull from Lone Peak, an injury time out was called with both teams applauding Bowen as she left the field. From then on, it was all business as Lone Peak decisively proved why they are one of the country’s top-ranked teams. Behind the play of seniors Quinn Arnoldson, Hunter Wilson and Nate Olson, Lone Peak dominated from start to finish. Over the past few months, Lone Peak had taken their show on the road and tested themselves against some out-of-state competition (including their first – and still only – loss ever, a narrow two-point decision against eventual High School Central Champions Holy Catholic Family). They were clearly showing much greater sophistication than they had previously to supplement the speedy, athletic play that characterizes the state's top teams. Lone Peak used their legs and heads-up poaching ability to take Sky View out of their comfort zone and force turnovers, followed up with high efficiency in converting the Ds to scores. Despite multiple near-scores by Sky View on the end-zone line, Lone Peak decisively claimed their third consecutive state championship with a 15-1 win. And while they may be graduating a large percentage of their starting seven, the depth of the Lone Peak program, under the efforts of coach Dave Kroupa indicates that there is likely more to come. If any further proof was needed that he is doing things right, Lone Peak A claimed not only the championship trophy but the Team Spirit Award as well, narrowly beating out the score of their B team.
In addition to the selfless dedication of the coaches, the success of the 2013 high school season can be attributed to the hard work of State Youth Coordinator Tara Wion and Bryce Merrill (who also provided some of the most entertaining rankings and previews to be found anywhere (http://utahultimate.org/2013/05/uuda-high-school-power-rankings-state-part-2/) and the efforts of North Region coordinator Matt Bybee and South Region coordinator Dave Kroupa, as well as many UUDA staff and volunteers, including Patrice Kurnath, Utah's first-ever Girls' State Youth Coordinator.
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