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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Women Ultimate to nationals, Men try to make the cut next week

While most Grinnellians will be celebrating the end of the semester by attending Block Party, the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team will be in Appleton, Wisconsin preparing for the national championship tournament. Grinnell qualified for the Division III College Ultimate Championships after the regional tournament on April 14 in Grinnell.

Ten teams competed in the tournament, but only two qualified for nationals.

Grinnell was defeated by Carleton College B in the championships and played St. Olaf College for the remaining bid to nationals.

“[Against St. Olaf] we came out really strong and ran out an early lead,” Co-captain Cory Keeler ’12 said.

Grinnell went on to beat St. Olaf 13-4 to punch its ticket to nationals, making the weekend an overall success.

“We did awesome. We had such a good weekend; it was really incredible,” Keeler said.

“We definitely feel really good about how we did at regionals. I think we played the best we have all season, and one thing that we are particularly proud of is how much depth our team showed,” Co-Captain Paige Hill ’12 said. “19 people either threw an assist or caught a score.”

By placing in the top two at regionals, Grinnell has now made the national tournament each of the last three years—when the tournament began.

“We’re three for three,” Keeler said.

Hill saw this streak of national tournament appearances as a statement.

“It proves to the region, and to the nation, and to the ultimate community as a whole that we’re not just a team that is good one year. We’re a veteran powerhouse who can consistently qualify for nationals, consistently puts together a strong team even as people graduate and the team demographic changes,” Hill said.

Several characteristics distinguish this team from teams of the past.

“This team is a lot younger than in past years,” Keeler said.

“Almost half of our roster is first-years and people who haven’t played ultimate before. That made this year incredibly rewarding,” Hill said.

This Grinnell team also has advantages other teams didn’t possess, beyond its depth.

“I think our team is also more athletic than in years past and I am really proud of the way we’ve capitalized on that,” Hill said. “[Also] we are mentally a much tougher team than we have been, which I think will serve us well on a nationally competitive stage.”

Between now and nationals, the team will continue to sharpen its skills and maintain its consistency.

“We’re just going to focus on throws and catches. We have a really tactically strong team, but we want to continue to emphasize fundamentals,” Hill said.

The women’s team isn’t the only Grinnell ultimate frisbee team with an important tournament coming up. The men’s ultimate team has its regional tournament on April 28 and 29.

The top three out of four teams in the West Plains Conference advanced to the North Central regional tournament, and by winning the conference, Grinnell sealed its regional spot.

Last year, Grinnell finished third in the national tournament, but this year Grinnell isn’t favored to claim one of the three regional bids to the national tournament.

“One of the most fun things, this season, about regionals is that no one expects us to qualify. Last year … regionals was less of a big deal. This year, no one is really looking at us in the nation right now. The other three teams in our region are just so strong,” Co-captian Christopher Kaiser-Nyman ’12.5 said.

St. Johns, Carleton-GOP, and St. Olaf are each ranked in the national top 10, which won’t make it easy for Grinnell to attain one of the three national bids.

However, the team will be tapering until regionals, which Kaiser-Nyman hopes will allow Grinnell to play its best disc of the year.

“Our season is geared towards our post-season,” Kaiser-Nyman said. “We didn’t stop lifting, we didn’t stop running sprints last week. We trained straight through it and only now are we starting to let off the gas.”

Hopefully, this will allow the team to improve.

“We looked really good at conference and I think we’re only going to look better at regionals,” Kaiser-Nyman said.

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