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USA Ultimate DIII College Championships - Open Preview

Posted: May 20, 2011 12:29 PM


This weekend 16 teams will descend on Akron, New York for USA Ultimate’s Open D-III National Championships. As should be expected, each of the 16 teams is thrilled to be taking part in what is developing into a showcase event.
However, what wasn’t expected was that the Buffalo area would receive more rainfall in the last six days than the city typically receives over the entire month of May. A constant downpour in the Northeast left USAU scrambling to find a new venue in order to keep its D-III event on track for the 2011 season.
The tournament organizers pulled through and announced the site change to Akron Falls County Park late Wednesday night.
Despite the sudden changes and the many wrenches that have been thrown into the scheduling of the tournament. The Division-III participants are thrilled to be playing anywhere this weekend.
"We've been excited to be a part of the first college regular season with the D-I, D-III divide," Wake Forest captain Elliot Isaac said.

"We had been invited to the past two D-III National Championships, but the process was such last-minute that we were unable to field a team with that short of notice. This year, we've had the goal of qualifying for D-III Nationals in the backs of our minds all year. We're incredibly excited to have accomplished this goal."

"We are really excited to play teams from throughout the US," Lehigh captain Greg Stolowski said. "We don’t have the opportunity to travel far outside of spring break so every opportunity to play teams we haven’t seen before is everything we love in ultimate. The new regional breakdown gave us a chance to play several Ohio teams this year and we look forward to expanding that and playing teams from all over."

With the excitement over a USAU Championship event so palpable, lets take a look at the attending teams and what they are bringing to the table.



Out of all the teams attending, Claremont is clearly the most well known team. Not only have the Braineaters cultivated a fairly large media presence through their "CCOTDs" (both past and present but the team has garnered a little bit of an extra following upon releasing their Callahan candidate’s, senior Markham Shoffner, highlight reel to the masses.
Claremont, much like the rest of the D-III Nationals field, spent its season battling against and competing with D-I competition, with hopes of making it to Boulder for the D-I Championships. The Braineaters came awfully close, finishing well enough to be ranked No. 24 in the USAU D-I rankings. Clearly, with only one loss so far this season, Claremont is bringing plenty of experience and fire to the fields at Nationals.
The story could easily end there, with the Braineaters ready to storm in and take the D-III crown by the horns but with the 2009-2010 fresh in their minds, this Claremont team may be the hungriest in the field. The Braineaters are fresh off a disappointing season where they failed to qualify for Regionals and getting to a point where, in the words of captain Zach Purdy, "For most of us, ultimate was no longer a part of our lives."
The Braineaters have turned it around from last season and cultivated an environment that centers around fun competitiveness instead of competitiveness that breeds fun. The results, have been extraordinary.
They’ve earned their No. 1 seed, the only question that remains is, will they keep it?

St John’s Bad Ass Monks

If Claremont is the most media friendly team attending D-III Nationals, then St. John’s has to be one of the least. Despite strong performances at the Chicago Invite (6th) and their own Conference Championhips (2nd), defeating defending D-III Champions Carleton College – GOP on the way, as well as North Central D-III Regionals (1st), there is little available information on the Bad Ass Monks, but what we do know is impressive.
Even their losses will raise some eyebrows, losing close games to Michigan State, Missouri S&T and Dickinson among other respectable competition. There is little doubt that St. John’s will be a challenge for any of the teams in attendance this weekend.

Harding Apocalypse

Of all the team’s attending D-III Nationals, Harding’s season may have began in the roughest manner.
Apocalypse began by attending T-Town Throwdown and garnering wins over only Rhodes and fellow D-III attendee, Missouri S&T. However, Harding would quickly get on the winning track with a tournament victory at the Hendrix Ultimate Experience. For the rest of the season Harding did not finish outside the top 8 at a single event it attended.
Apocalypse’s season culminated at South Central D-III Conference Championships with a third place Sunday win over Truman State, who had previously bested Apocalypse on Saturday, which guaranteed Harding a trip to Nationals.
Harding will be trying to ride that momentum to a tournament victory in Akron this weekend.

Lewis & Clark

Lewis and Clark is a team that, were it not for one poor showing on one day of one tournament, might have an argument for the two seed at Nationals.
At Trouble in Vegas Bacchus lost only to eventual finalists Arizona and Claremont. At their second tournament of the season, PLU BBQ, Lewis and Clark ran into trouble on Saturday, being upset by Puget Sound and Montana in pool play before winning out on Sunday to a mutual forfeit against Willamette in the 9th place bracket.
For the rest of the season, Bacchus lost only two games, both of those to D-I National qualifier Whitman College at Northwest D-III Conference Championships.
While Lewis and Clark seems to have had a quiet season without a tournament victory to their name and only one finals appearance to speak of, Bacchus has shown that it can play with some of the more competitive teams in the nation. The team will look to continue proving that over the course of the weekend.

Georgia College & State University

GCSU is a fixture around the Southeast as a team that will play just as hard as anyone else while having more fun than anyone else. Discconnected’s seeding at D-III Nationals marks its most successful season since alumnus and current Chain Lightning/Beach Team USA member Mark Poole was running the show in 2007.
"This is the best team Georgia College has had in a long time," captain Peter Crupie said. "There are 8 seniors on the team this year so it's our last chance to go big."
GCSU has proven over the course of the season they are ready to go big with any and all comers, having only a few losses to respectable competition and running through their Conference Championships like a hot knife through butter. "Going big" is a team philosophy that extends onto the field of play as well.
"I'd like to say we make sure to keep possession and work it down the field every time but hucking it deep is our bread and butter," Crupie said. "We have a number of guys who can put it deep."
Of course, when you have a team with that kind of attitude, you expect a certain bravado. Crupie shows that bravado in spades for his team when he talks about his team’s expectations for this weekend.
"Go big or go home," Crupie said. "This is the last college tournament half of our team will ever play in so we're looking to go out with a bang."

North Park
Lost Boys

Let’s talk about a turnaround.
"This year, this generation of Lost Boys really came into their own," captain Grant Blankenship said. "We played a lot of frisbee this season, D-III Nationals will make our 8th tournament of 2011, and we steadily improved our chemistry and proficiency with the disc every tournament we played."
North Park struggled out of the gate losing at least once in pool play at every tournament it attended all the way until conference championships. However, the Lost Boys did not let those losses deter them.
"Throughout the season, we proved to be our own worst enemy, and were consistently letting games slip through our fingers," Blankenship said. "Come Regionals, we decided not to let that happen again.
At D-III Great Lakes Regionals, North Park came in with the second seed, stormed through the competition and left no doubt in Finals against favored Rose-Hulman, winning 15-10.
Although the Lost Boys have struggled at points during the season, it’s clear that this is a team that is peaking at the right time. Certainly they will be a tough pool play draw for any of the teams seeded above them.

Wake Forest

One glance at Wake Forest’s score reporter page would not lead one to believe that a D-III Nationals appearance was in the cards for Wake. WOMB mustered a total of three victories through their first two tournaments, one of those coming against a developmental team and another coming by forfeit.
However, captain Elliot Isaac is proud to say that WOMB turned its season around.
"Our true awakening was at the Queen City Tune-Up when we went undefeated on Saturday against Notre Dame, Clemson, NC State, and Appalachian State," Isaac said.
Since then, especially during the USAU series, Wake has been on a tear. Through Conference Championships and Regionals WOMB allowed its opponents to score in double digits only once. It is this performance that has provided Isaac and his teammates with a kind of quiet confidence that is very becoming of a Nationals team.
"I believe that with the right approach, we will be able to surprise a number of teams," Isaac said. "We're going in to the tournament knowing that there will be tougher competition than the rest of the post-season and we will work hard to make our school known among the top D-III teams."

Truman State

As we progress into the bottom half of teams at D-III Nationals we will find more and more teams like TSU. JujiTSU struggled against D-I competition many times this season, losing to teams like Arkansas (13-5), Kansas (13-5) and Michigan State (13-7) by large margins.
However, once the playing field was leveled, and Truman State found itself matching up with teams that it could truly consider peers, different results began emerging.
At USAU D-III South Central Conference Championships, TSU beat Harding and Missouri S & T in pool play. JujiTSU went undefeated into bracket play before losing on double-game-point to Air Force and finally dropping the third place game to Harding.
Fortunately, TSU still qualified for D-III Nationals and its clear that they will be able to compete with any team at the tournament.

Missouri S & T
Miner Threat

Miner Threat returns to D-III Nationals after breaking seed last season and winning the spirit award as voted on by their peers.
The team has had its ups and downs this season.
The Ups particularly coming at T-Town Throwdown where, against almost exclusively competitive D-I competition, Miner Threat walked away with a 3-3 record, losing not a single game by more than 3. This success carried over to the Free State classic, where Missouri S&T went 5-4 with 3 of 4 losses coming to eventual D-I National qualifiers.
The Downs coming in the second half of the season where, at Midwest Throwdown and the Chicago Invite Miner Threat mustered only four victories, with only one of those coming on Sunday.
Undeterred by its recent lows, Missouri S&T came into South Central D-III Conference Championships looking to earn a bid to Nationals. The team lost only to eventual qualifiers Truman State and Harding, losing to Harding twice by two each time, and D-I Regional qualifier Air Force.
Miner Threat’s performance at Nationals will largely depend on which team makes it out to Buffalo. If it’s the same Missouri S&T from the first half of the season, opponents beware.


You probably wouldn’t know that Occidental is seeded in the bottom half of the tournament based on the way the team is talking.
"This is, statistically, the best team that Occidental college has fielded in the history of the program," captain Noah Donnell-Kilmer said. "No Occidental team has made it past the regional round of the Championship series, so being here is a huge accomplishment."
That being said, even if this is Occidental’s first time at one of USAU’s big shows, Detox has clearly earned its spot. The team has few losses on the season and three of them come to top seeded Claremont while a few others come to well respected programs such as Arizona, Cal State-Long Beach and Brown.
It’s this kind of experience that has Detox pumped up to play high level Ultimate this weekend. When asked what the team’s expectations were for the weekend, Donnell-Kilmer had a boisterous answer.
"What team isn’t here to win it all?" Donnell-Kilmer asked. "This is Nationals baby. If any team is team is not taking this seriously, they are going to get a rude awakening when they play Detox. We are looking to make a big splash."


Bentley is one of those teams that savagely threw itself into the teeth of superior competition for much of the season, coming out on the other side with a ragged record but improved skills.
Bentley’s regular season record shows losses against Northeast competitors Brown, Dartmouth, Vermont and Harvard.
However, when the postseason rolled around, Icehouse showed that it had picked up a thing or two from those teams that it had struggled with earlier in the season. Icehouse stormed into Conference Championships and suffered losses to only eventual D-I Regional qualifier Brandeis. Bentley followed that performance up by shutting down its competition at D-III New England Regionals. Only Bowdoin and Colby challenged Icehouse on its way to a Regional championship.
While, Bentley may not be bringing the best record into the tournament, they are riding one of the better hot streaks. No doubt the teams seeded above them would do well to remember that.

Dazzlin’ Asses

Colby is seeded just behind the team that it lost to on double game point at New England Regionals. No doubt the Dazlin’ Asses will have breaking seed close to the forefront of their mind going into Nationals.
Colby did not have the opportunity to see the level of competition that many National attendees did over the course of the season. The Dazlin Asses won every tournament they attended up until Regionals and did so rather decisively against what is now, clearly weaker competition.
While their score against Bentley in Regional finals shows that this team can compete with other D-III National attendees, what is yet to be seen is whether or not they can sustain that level of play for an entire weekend.


In all likelihood, if you had told Swarthmore that they would be at D-III Nationals they might have expected a higher seed than 13th. That’s largely because, coming into this season, the team knew they had a chance to make some noise.
"A successful fall season and the return of three strong junior players from studies abroad had us excited for perhaps Swarthmore’s best season in a few years," Swarthmore’s Roy Greim said. "A sixth-place finish at the Woodside Invite helped confirm these hopes, but results at our next two tournaments weren’t so promising."
Swarthmore struggled through injuries and the cold and the wind to earn only one win at a UOA tournament and only two, one by forfeit, at the Yale Cup. However, a strong performance at Layout Pigout righted the ship heading into Conference Championships. Despite close losses to Lehigh and Franklin & Marshall, the Earthworms still didn’t expect a bid to Nationals until several highly ranked D-III squads took bids to D-I Regionals.
With Nationals now tangible, the Earthworms caught fire. Swarthmore burned through D-III Ohio Valley Regionals, winning by a minimum of 8 in all 6 games and avenging its CC losses to Lehigh.
One would think that, a Regional championship and an unexpected shot at Nationals would be enough for a team that could have counted itself out earlier in the season but Greim tells us that’s not the case.
"Our goal is to play like we did at Regionals during every game," Greim said. "If we can keep that same level of intensity and fire throughout Nationals, I think we have the capacity to surprise people. There hasn’t been a lot of talk about us going into the tournament and we would like to change that. We’re thrilled to be in Buffalo, but simply being there is not enough for us."


Lehigh has been battling all season but not all battles are fought on the field. While an injury riddled season might include sprained ankles, back strains and maybe an ACL tear for your average Ultimate team, Lehigh has seen members go under the knife for an ACL tear, heart surgery and even brain surgery this season. Yet, somehow, the team has persevered to make it to Nationals and, with most of the team healthy, see what kind of damage they can do.
Last year Lehigh came into D-III Nationals seeded 15th and finished 5th. The team expects nothing less of itself this season. As a matter of fact, it’s been a goal all season.
"Back in December, we took a team vote to determine which route we wanted to pursue," captain Grover Stolowski said. "We set our goal to be top 5 at D3 nationals and we feel even with a potential low seed, we can still finish top 5 and turn some eyes to see that despite a lack of high school players on our team. We have played, practiced and worked out knowing that we would be playing until mid afternoon on Sunday May 22."
Stolowski expects his team to be playing well behind a "faceless army" style, stifling zone defense and a conservative, possession minded offense.
"The great part of our team is the ability for anyone one player to step up in their particular facet of the game at any given time," Stolowski said. "We really like our zone since its success last year at D3 Nationals. We worked on our man defense, but we just don’t have the size and athleticism to match up against every team so we rely on mixing up our defenses and not getting complacent with any of our several zone defenses or man defenses. Our team’s offensive strategy is to play smarter and more conservative than our opponent and keep the flow of the disc."


Grinnell is a team that, were more results available, we may know more about. As it stands, there’s little to say about the team.
The Grinnellelephants performed well at Midwest Throwdown, going undefeated through pool play before falling to Iowa State and Missouri on Sunday. College Southerns saw less success from Grinnell with only a notable win over Princeton and losses to South Florida, Carleton-GOP and Florida-B. The series produced few results for Grinnell, as the team bested its only conference opponent to earn its conference’s only bid to Regionals. Where the Grinnellelephants came in second of three teams to earn a bid to D-III Nationals.
To be honest, there’s no telling what the Grinnellelephants are capable of this weekend. Whether that is comforting or frightening to their opponents, one can’t be too sure.

Connecticut College

Dasein has had a respectable season including a Regional championship yet, much like its D-I counterpart Cornell, will be taking the bottom seed into Nationals.
The good news for CC is that there is nowhere to go but up and the team has already shown that it can attain goals it sets for itself.
"Our goal all season was to make regionals, so when we learned that there were six bids to DIII regionals we were a little disappointed we didn’t have to fight a little harder," captain Max Weigert said. "We beat Marist the first day with a come back victory to clinch a spot for DIII. But we wanted to do better. We wanted to have the option of going to DI. Day 2 was the culmination of our season. We came out hard and were determined to beat Wesleyan. We had not beaten them in a long time—all of our seniors have only lost to them. And this Wesleyan team was definitely not a down year for them (they went on to play a close game against Cornell at regionals losing 14-12). Therefore, it was our best victory all season when we beat them 14-12 to clinch a spot at DI regionals."
With that goal out of the way, Dasein went on to earn its region’s single bid to D-III Nationals with a double-game-point victory over Rensselaer Polytech. All that is left to do now is to break seed at Nationals and possibly even take home the crown.

"While we are not predicted to win it all, we want to win games," Weigert said. "We are going in with a go big or go home mentality and we are in it for the trophy. With that mentality we hope to be competitive with all the teams we play and show them we deserve to be at nationals."



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