2014 Central Championships Preview – Boys

Posted: May 16, 2014 01:11 PM

Eager. This is the general feeling among players, coaches, families, volunteers and fans before any ultimate tournament, but this year’s High School Centrals raises the bar. It has been a long winter in the Midwest, making for many tournament cancellations and fewer (enjoyable) outdoor opportunities. Both boys’ and girls’ divisions expand the number of teams from last year’s Centrals with a balance of long-time rival match-ups and mysterious newcomers to the tournament, and team members are excited for both. The weather looks to be pleasant for players and spectators alike, but bring your sunscreen! Below are short previews of the tournament, broken down by division and Saturday’s pool play.

The boys’ division moves from 13 to 15 teams in 2014, with six states represented and six teams returning from last year: Holy Family Catholic, Neuqua Valley, Hopkins, Cathedral, Neuqua Valley B and Pritzker College Prep. For whatever reason, when asked what match-ups their team was looking forward to, a number of teams said Neuqua Valley. I personally want to see what makes this team the favorite opponent, though I am also looking forward to seeing the U-19 Worlds players!

Pool A

HolyFamilyCatholic O  

Holy Family Catholic Revolution – Ohio

As defending champions who also achieved a perfect spirit score, Revolution returns this year undefeated and an easy favorite for the pool and the tournament. However, being at the top puts a target on your back, and every team Holy Family Catholic faces will be eager to test their mettle. As the 10-year league champions of Cincinnati’s 30-team youth ultimate program, and after a dominant performance last weekend in the Ohio State Tournament, it is easy to see how they have become a pillar of ultimate in their 15th year as a team. With low turnover from last year, the team boasts several stars, including senior Dom Schuster, who was recently named a U-19 Worlds team member, as well as Stephen Kenny and Jordan Monnin.

2014HSLogos StPaulCharter B G   

St. Paul Charter Stars – Minnesota

The Stars are a young team this year, having lost many seniors over the last two years, though they still have a solid core of juniors. Standouts to keep an eye on are the complementary handler duo of Luke Bulger and Jonah Malenfant and the relentless quickness of Joshua Eufinger. With only one senior on the team, they are looking to create a foundation for next year and notch a few wins against the many in-state teams they will face.


Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcon Punch – Minnesota

After seeing significant turnover two years ago, this year’s team is entirely comprised of juniors and seniors, with a large portion of them playing at YCC last year on the Minnesota teams. With last year’s expansion to two high school teams and the opportunity for younger players to get a lot of experience, expect high level play and contributions from several players. Captains Marty Adams, Matt Greenstein and Tom Duret are players to watch with a combination of entertaining athleticism, confident disc handling and inspiring intensity.

2014HSLogos NeuquaValley G B  

Neuqua Valley B – Illinois

As a B team, they are always seeing significant roster changes as players transition to NV-A. However, with such a strong program focused on player development, this team is looking to prove why Neuqua Valley will continue to be championship contenders. They are led by their captains, handler Bill Kellens, handler Ben Sabourin and downfield cutter Tommy Reidy. This team truly has an eye on improvement and is eager to play Holy Family in Centrals pool play for the second year in a row. Why measure yourself against anything but the best? 


Pool B

2012YouthLogos Hopkins O  

Hopkins HUrt – Minnesota

Hopkins is a perennial Minnesota powerhouse, doling out skilled, focused players to colleges grateful for their intensity, confidence and solid fundamentals. After last year saw them just outside the Centrals championship game, and with the cancellation of last weekend’s home tournament, they are eager to face off against familiar rivals as well as new challengers. This year, they have had close wins over Neuqua Valley A, a tie with Edina, a close loss to Center Grove, and a drubbing by Holy Family. Players to watch: Max Wolk, Adam Shapiro and Braden Spencer.

2014HSLogos Cathedral B  

Cathedral Griffin– Minnesota

Another perennial Minnesota contender, they have yet to face off against Hopkins this year and are looking forward to the opportunity for an upset. They lost some primary cutters from last year but retained the gritty handling of captain Charlie Schuweiler (U-19 Team USA member) and explosive cutting and cheering of Tyler Meyer. Look for the disc to be working through them and for these two to do what they need to do to keep the disc alive and their team rolling into the championship bracket.

2014HSLogos Geneva B  

Geneva Vikings - Illinois

This will be Geneva’s first appearance at Centrals and their first out-of-state tournament, but with over half of the team made up of seniors, this does not mean they lack of experience! So far this year, they had some big wins and close losses at the Chicago Invite. One of their big wins was over Naperville Central, who they will face in the last round of Saturday pool play. Senior handlers Matt Nelson and Jason Soto are leaders on offense and defense. Look for big throws, tricky moves and shut-down defense. A big receiver for them will be junior cutter Michael Wagner.

2014HSLogos NapervilleCentral B  

Naperville Central Redhawks – Illinois

Another team new to Centrals, they have a fairly young team with a core of juniors. Twelve of their 14 players were new either last year or this year, but they boast a high level of athleticism, commitment and spirit that they hope brings them some unexpected upsets. They are very eager to see how they fare against the established programs. Players to watch: quick throwers and captains Kyle Hersma and Danny Drinkard and speedy sophomore cutter Billy Giger.


Pool C

2014HsLogos CenterGrove B  

Center Grove Holy Mackerel – Indiana

Another established team with a feeder B team, Holy Mackerel has placed first or second at the Indiana State Championships each year since its inauguration in 2007. While they only returned seven of 17 players from last year’s squad, a high level of commitment and strong leadership from the returning core have put them in a good position to make some noise at their first Centrals appearance. So far, they have split their meetings with Hopkins and won a close game over NV-A. They have strong playmaking ability in the form of Levi Jacobs, a U-19 National Team member, and Donovan Triplett. Their energy and athleticism is supported by junior captain Connor Halloran’s experience and knowledge.

2014HSLogos MinneapolisSouth G B  

Minneapolis South, South Squall – Minnesota

Even though they did not play at Centrals last year, South Squall is not new to the scene. They return their core from last year and make up for their few losses with a load of new athletes. Their program traditionally relies on discipline and taking care of the disc, but with some added speed and athleticism, this may be the year they really challenge the top seeds. Watch for the disc to be run through Cole Wallin and Tyler Thomegreene. Oscar "Big Smooth" Leinbach will also be making big plays in clutch situations.

2014HSLogos Ames B  

Ames Parallel – Iowa

The host team and newcomer to Centrals, Ames has had wide margin wins and losses with Neuqua Valley (L), Edina (L), and James Madison Memorial (W). They are a younger team with very little turnover from last year. They have dominated the central Iowa high school league and are looking to showcase Iowa ultimate, hopefully by breaking seed and cracking into the semifinals. Players to watch: you won’t hear much from him, but Peter Miller is all focused concentration and heart, with huge bids, tenacious defense and savvy throws. On offense, he is backed by the consistency of Bryan Hall’s handling. Lastly, the lanky cutter Ben Joerger – yeah, he’ll take you deep, but he has the speed of a smaller player and will be a cornerstone of Parallel’s offense.


Pool D

2014HSLogos NeuquaValley G B  

Neuqua Valley A – Illinois

Three-time state champion and last year’s runner up at Centrals, they have had close games this year with higher seeds Hopkins and Center Grove. Although they graduated 14 seniors last year and lost a key player in January due to injury, they have a huge program and with almost 200 players; there is always someone eager to fill a role. They are led by senior captains Jack Shanahan (U-19 National Team alternate) and Dom Peluso. Both have a bag of tricks and will to win that will make them exciting to watch.

2014HSLogos Edina B  

Edina Green Lantern - Minnesota

Pool D is always exciting with the 4 v. 5 match up. Edina is another team craving a rematch with Neuqua Valley after a close loss to them in the finals of Minnesota Mudbath. They finished second last year at Minnesota’s state tournament and tied with Hopkins in their season opener. They are counting on a deep, athletic roster to take them far into Sunday’s bracket play. Look for Cullen Raasch to score athletic goals with ease, many of them coming from the team leader in assists, Sam Huff, and crafty throws from Nick Stastny. They should provide tough match-ups on defense for any team with their big, athletic roster.

2014HSLogos MadisonMemorial G B  

James Madison Memorial – Wisconsin

While they lost several members of last year’s handling core and two of their strongest cutters to graduation, the program has a number of returning dual-sport athletes that should make for creative and athletic play. In a tough pool, this team is looking forward to the challenge of breaking seed and making it to the quarterfinals. Players to watch: throwers Ben Schewe and Rami Paust, whom teammates describe with phrases like "monster backhands," "full-field hucks," and "day at the office," and Sam "Chilly Mac" Szotkowski whose energy on and off the field is both inspiring and entertaining.

2014HSLogos PritzkerPrep B  

Pritzker College Prep Jaguars – Illinois

The Jaguars are one of the newest teams at the tournament, making their second appearance at Centrals in only their fourth year of existence. They graduated three players who were crucial to building the program and helped create a culture of passion, persistence and perseverance. Players to watch: top scorer Sostenes Roman will be filling up the assist and score columns; Juan Renteria will be a lynchpin for both the offense and defense with big bids with no regard paid to his body; and Hector Moreno will be leading the team with his experience and throwing skill.


Author’s Note: Information used for this write up was sourced primarily from coaches and tournament results posted on the USA Ultimate website; any mistakes or "artistic liberties" with descriptions are likely my own, but I hope to have represented the teams well and look forward to seeing these teams in action!

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