Wednesday, March 29, 2006

CenTex Spectacular

Spring Break was pretty awesome. After getting back into Madison and the swing of classes, we finally had an outdoor practice! However, the short week back in school disappeared in seconds and before I knew it, I was driving to Chicago and on a plane to Austin. We managed to get our new Patagonia jerseys freshly printed last minute and they are the nicest jerseys since the Under Armour of ‘03. The format for CenTex was just ridiculous. First of all, it is the most competitive tournament of the year because it is invite only and boasts teams from all over the country. Five games to 15 on Saturday in the Texas heat combined with 3 elimination games in the wind on Sunday made for some difficult playing conditions as the weekend wore on. We came in seeded second with a pretty tough pool. 3 of the 4 semifinalists from Nationals last year were on our schedule (Brown, Stanford, UCSD) and we knew we had to go 5-0 if we wanted any chance at taking home the hardware. Usually we have a team goal coming into a tournament, deciding beforehand if we want to try to win. I think it goes without saying that everyone wanted to do well at CenTex, but with more of a focus on playing well and avenging losses than winning the tournament. Why we declined to play in the showcase game, no one really knows…

Tom Burkly rules this team with an iron fist and despite late night March Madness, Tom instituted a bedtime and early ass wake up call at 6am! We arrived at the fields earlier than most teams, determined to get in a solid pre-game warm up before starting play. All week we thought about how we would start this tournament, resolute to not have another Luther performance.

We played Western Washington first. I think the only reason they made it into this tournament was because of early season success and the fact that they are coached by Ben Wiggins. It is quite ironic we played WW first because last year we played Washington first, who was then coached by Mr. Wiggins and somehow lost. Anyway, WW was definitely the worst team we played all weekend. They warmed with up the “pedophile” drill, need I say more? From what I could tell, both teams were playing pretty lackluster, but the Hodags took an 8-5 half and basically cruised to a 15-11 victory. The tempo seemed more like a summer league game and the slight swirling wind made discs float like they were at altitude in Colorado. Not much to say about this game except that Wiggins looks like a woodchuck, but I will say they are a spirited team that relied heavily on the break throw.

So no one on our team had ever beaten Stanford. No one. Actually, no Hodag since say 1999 had beaten Stanford and this perennial powerhouse has had quite a nice streak of Nationals performances. Wisconsin actually lost to Stanford last year at Nationals in our last pool play game, a heartbreaker on universe point. As if we needed any more motivation, I hear rumors of Bloodthirsty players (from Madison – not to name names *cough* Dougie *cough*) joking that they own Wisconsin, have us in their pocket, and that we can never actually beat Stanford. Those pricks. Anyway, Stanford had a bye first round, so the Hodags were their first game of the day. We took full advantage of their early morning sloppiness and took a commanding 3-0 lead and 4-1 advantage. Stanford called a timeout to calm down and get their heads back into the game. However, our Offense was vigilant and we took half at 8-4. Note this score, it will be repeated. Furthermore this was exactly the halftime score last year at Natties against Stanford. This time it wasn’t shock and celebration to be leading, but fierce concentration and focus on the last 20%. However, we missed that middle 30% and they broke us twice in a row out of half to tighten the game to 8-6. Both teams responded and each claimed another break before the notorious score of 13-11 Wisconsin was on the board, exactly like last year. The coincidences were piling up and Stanford believed they could pull it off again, completing the miracle comeback. Wisco remained strong, relying on the offense that held out, ending the game at 15-13 Hodags! The curse was over and the first monkey was off our backs. We had taken vengeance for our pool play loss and so many losses before that. We were super excited to finish that game out tough and a little more confident in our ability to win the pool and move onto to quarterfinals for Sunday. I should note that the game was extremely good spirited in the early going, with both teams taking back finicky calls like the jump ball in the pile with Frederick skying everyone, or the uncontested foul on offense when we caught the disc that resulted in a turn and even Drew giving up the down disc on the goal line for another break without a scuffle.

Round 3 was against Michigan, who was actually 18-3 and had made semis at Terminus. However, they didn’t give a great showing, with only 2-3 really good players and we took half at a familiar 8-4. We should have beaten this team by 6 or 7 points, but we played pretty uninspiring, winning 15-12 and expending a lot energy that could have been saved for later in the weekend. We have the tendency to start games fast and get those first few breaks. But then for some reason, we relax or get broken, letting teams stick around. After this game, we got quite a tongue lashing by our captains about our intensity, after winning a huge game versus Stanford and then just playing like crap against Michigan, it was not acceptable. I should also mention that we had a whole flock of parents and relatives on the sideline for this tournament. Keeping our expletives to a minimum was difficult and after awhile we completely gave up and they became as hardened to the swearing as the players.

Next up was Brown, defending National Champion. However, they lost 11 or 16 players from the previous year (conflicting info) and looked nothing like a champion. However, Zip and Vandenburg could be seen rounding the sidelines. We took half again, 8-4 and did a little better at finishing this game 15-7. This was pretty huge, because it gave us some extra time to watch San Diego finish up on universe point and get some water and rest. Colin Mahoney did his best, but with a broken index finger and no possibility to throw the disc it was pretty hard. Drew continued his streak of D’ing big name players, getting a flat footed jump disc on Colin. Zip's Tips: Brown you are not an elite team anymore.

So at this point, the long games to 15 and Texas heat had taken their toll. Many teams looked as if players were dying 1 by 1 on the sideline. We looked about the same, with players strewn about the sideline sitting or laying down, but we had already beaten 2 of the teams in Semifinals of Nationals last year and were slated to play the 3rd of 4, UCSD. When playing Brown, our main focus was to keep the sideline up, because when our sideline is into games we kill teams. But it was pretty hard to keep your head in the game when not playing, especially with all the distractions of pain, temperature, girls, etc.

San Diego had lost some players from the previous year as well and was relatively thin for this long tournament. We started our last game of the day with the wind picking up. SD had this junky zone that made our offense work incredibly hard and slowly to score. However, SD was hurting, taking an injury sub from cramps nearly every point. (The first game I’ve ever been involved in where subbing midpoint became strategic). However, the Hodags were sleepwalking again (why do we do this?). SD was playing with no intensity and we were playing down to their level. This lack of effort was infuriating several Hodags beyond belief. When Burkly reminded us at halftime that if we lost this last game of the day, that we could lose out on quarterfinals for Sunday on point differential with 3 teams at 4-1, the adrenaline started to kick in. I think we were down 7-8 for half and this is when I started getting agitated. Upon imaging what it would feel like to lose this game, miss out on quarters and basically make a waste of the most elite tournament of the year – I got fired up and decided right then and there that I would not let my team lose this game, making it my vendetta to instigate the rest of my team to turn up the intensity and just prove to SD that they did not have the drive or desire to run with us. Out came the motto, “We win with work” and “Fucking Prove It!”

It might have started with a layout. At first the communication was negative, but as it became more positive, and the anxiety increased, the Hodags hit their stride. This is absolutely when Wisconsin plays the best, when we get fired up. It was all of sudden that everyone on the team began to give a damn, with Tom “Animal” Annen ruthlessly climbing up an Air Squid’s back and just posterizing him. With the newfound strength, we started running our defenders into the ground and just working harder. It was all in the effort that SD would crumble because they didn’t have the legs to work as hard as we did. We went on 7-1 run out of half to win 14-9. During the almost OATBAG, Muffin threw 2 full field hucks for goals, hitting Shane and Drew in stride respectively. With teammates legs getting tight and cramps waiting behind every step, we finished the day with some serious momentum. Hodags feed on intensity on energy and when our opponent begins to play with passion, we are at our best.

We stick around and eat barbeque while watching the showcase game between Stanford and UCSD. With the game under the lights and so many people watching, our earlier decision to decline to be a part of this show seemed silly. The halftime performance was the fastest man competition, with our fastest guy, Mike Ottum bowing out in semis. But a 5-0 finish in pool play and a quarterfinal match up with Texas made it all good in the end.

Sunday morning quarterfinals versus Texas. Wisconsin was like night and day from Saturday. No more lazy defense or swilly throws, it was all business and Madison looked so good and crisp out of the gate, getting two quick breaks and a 4-2 lead. We took a breath and it was 4-4, mainly attributed to our defense working so hard to get turnovers and then dropping the first pass on 2 or 3 occasions. However, we took an 8-6 lead at half with some chilly O and nice huck from Scallet to transfer James Scott. Tim Pearce made a sick layout in the end zone, snatching a dying disc 1 handed in the corner for a score. We played even better in the second half, mixing man and zone to a 14-8 lead. However, our O got broken twice on the last two points due to the wind really getting nasty and silly errors after working the disc the entire field on about 60+ throws. We finally finish off Texas 15-10 and realize that we are in the same position as last year, quarterfinals of CenTex.

We move onto Semifinals versus Oregon (6-0 on the tournament). This is the second monkey. We lost the 3rd place game here last year to Oregon and really wanted to get into finals versus the winner of Colorado/Florida.

We change fields, get some much needed parental support and prepare for Ego. It is just ridiculously windy now, strongly upwind-downwind. We mix more man and zone, trying to take away their livelihood in the form of break throws. Dan Miller catches a D in the backfield, throwing a soft backhand upwind, with 3-4 players misreading it before Hurst cleans up the swill. We take a halftime lead at 8-6. We really concentrate on the last 20% and our offense is perfect, dominating their zone upwind and keeping the D line on the field. Kevin Riley’s well timed breaks off the sideline and occasional over the top keeps the zone O moving quickly. The solid O only encourages the D to get breaks and we find the game quickly ending at 15-9.

We finished our semifinal much more quickly than the other, getting some extra rest and a chance to watch the Colorado/Florida semi come down to universe point. The two semifinal games were very different. Florida and Colorado were satisfied to huck both ways in the very windy environment, while both Wisco and Oregon kept with short throws and possession ultimate. Anyway, Florida ends up nipping Colorado at the end and it is the match up everybody wants, #1 undefeated Florida versus #2 Wisconsin.

The sidelines are walls of people, the bleachers full, the hecklers and jeerers ready to go. Four observers patrol the sidelines as the game begins. We start with zone and Florida comes out with the same game plan as semis – to bomb away with the disc. Brian Frederick skies for the D and Wisco works it in for the break out of the start. On the second point, they huck it again, lose possession again and we score a break again. They continue this process with an ill timed hammer and a ludicrous sky D by Mahowald (actually leaping over Florida player) to make it 4-1 Wisconsin. Florida is not a very deep team so they used all of their timeouts effectively, trying to catch their wind (no pun intended). We take half at a familiar 8-6 and look well in control of the game. The sidelines seem for the most part to be pro Wisconsin so it was a really awesome atmosphere. However, the second half turns shady. Florida gets an up call in the end zone for a score and the hitch pass is called down, allowing Florida to get a quick break out of half. So basically, UFUCT (God what a stupid nickname) gets 2 goals on 2 shitty calls by 2 suspect observers who shouldn’t have made active calls anyway and either way, both discs looked exactly the same. I think both should have been called down, but whatever, roll with the punches.

So Wisconsin figured out this neat strategy in semifinals. It was called pulling downwind. Instead of the floaty guy, we started playing cower, as in throw the biggest ugliest blade ever and see if the offense tries to catch it. Fun right? Oregon was pretty smart and just let all those bad boys roll out the back. Well in finals, we keep using that same strategy… what a silly idea, because Florida has Mr. Gibson who has one of the biggest flicks in the game. Thus, Florida starts using our own tactics against us, tossing some ridiculous flick rollers downwind. Irresponsible Wisconsin seems to think that getting in front of the roller and stopping it is better than just letting it roll out the back. I think on 3 or 4 occasions we touch the disc as it skips out the back, forcing us to take it at the back end line. One sequence is just unbelievable – momentum swinger of the game! We touch the roller and get the disc in play just as the 4 man cup sets around Rebholz on the back line. A backhand throw turns into a 40 yard high blade on the foul and Rodrigo comes in from the opposite wing to one handed catch it in the a pile to save the Callahan and then throws one pass, gets it back and bombs a huge huck to Tripoli for the goal, quite a difference from a Callahan. This wasn’t the only tense moment in our upwind end zone, with a floaty swing getting caught in the wind/getting macked and tricking a whole crowd of people into a misread, the disc finds Burkly’s hands as he lays out to save the turn in our end zone and possible Callahan opportunity.

I’m pretty mixed up about all the upwind/downwind O/D points in the end so I’ll just sum up here rather then delving into the specific facts of holding or breaking upwind or downwind. We find ourselves at 13-12. A Hurst break huck upwind to Gigo puts us at 14-12, with a stranglehold on the lead. However, Florida hucks a desperation backhand upwind on a stall 9 and Gibson comes down with a huge sky to make it 14-13. Wisconsin has several chances to finish the game at 14-13. Madison falters when closing the game, turning several hammers and having increasing difficulty breaking the Z, as the pressure increases exponentially with each point. It all comes down to 14-14, Wisconsin receiving going downwind. Our offense gets trapped on the corner and a layout d in the cup lands Florida with the disc on our 5 yard line with a chance to win. The first throw near the corner is high and goes right through Gibson’s hands, giving Heijmen a miracle D. However, Madison is still trapped on the sideline, so a cross field stall 9 hammer is misread by the deep D Rook and Drew, but Rodrigo teleports over and comes out of nowhere to pick up the garbage. At this point Drew is streaking deep unguarded and a patient concentrated bomb finishes the game, 15-14 Hodags.

At the end the crowd was really into the game, booing calls and reacting to nearly every crucial throw. Definitely the most exciting ultimate game I have ever been involved with. There were actually 4-5 Wisconsin throws to an unguarded player in the end zone that were not completed due the strong wind and rushed throw. Either way, it was a fantastic game! We were super ecstatic to win the tournament and upset Florida. We received a $500 gift certificate to Gaia for winning and ultivillage recorded our end game huddle. It was so awesome to win, but I think it only deepened our hunger. At 32-2 and perhaps the #1 seed for Nationals with the regular season over, the clear cut goal of regional finals is the only objective in sight. None of this season will matter if we lose Regional finals, and I think winning CenTex helped us realize this.
Jim Foster’s parents took lots of pictures, so check out them out:
( Rob from ultivillage also took fantasy stats for the final, so I would recommend checking those out. You can even vote on whose turnover it was.

All I can say is that it was teamwork, commitment, gritty hard work, tight ass Patagonia jerseys and Hodag Love that made winning this tournament possible. We beat all of the competition as a team; everyone plays and everyone contributes to everything we do. Truly HODAG LOVE!

“One thing that has allowed our team to be so great is our drive for excellence and perfection. Our unrelenting work ethic and meticulous study of the game and ourselves as a team and individuals has shown in our accomplishments. This past weekend legitimized all the work that we have been doing it has only strengthened my commitment to the hard work and dedication I have already given. We have to be perfect from here on out to win a national championship. I guarantee this last 20% is going to be a lot harder than the first 80. I am going to work as hard as I can for you guys because I know you are going to do it for me. Riley said it best, ‘WE WIN WITH WORK.’”

PS: This video is hilarious:

Monday, March 27, 2006


No doubt everyone's anxiously awaiting the entertaining version from Muffin, but here it is: hodags won all 8 games this weekend, including ones against Stanford (I bet you love that, Carrington), UCSD, Oregon, Texas, and Florida. Also Brown (dang those guys are having a tough year... aren't they the current champions?), Michigan, and Western Washington. Hodags didn't get to play CUT, but at least they got to beat two of the teams that beat CUT. The final sounded every bit as exciting as the George Mason/UConn game today. Thanks to Kevin Riley for the voicemail recap, but I'll let someone who was there tell the story.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spring Break Terminus Highlights

It is the week before Spring Break and the anticipation is unbearable. Classes are being canceled, workouts are getting more intense, the snowstorms are more prevalent, and the Hodags are preparing to get crazy at Terminus. There is only one goal: start spring break off right with another tournament title.

Saturday morning the weather was beautiful, the ground wet and soft. The first game of the weekend is against Luther College and it is actually their first game of the year. Central Iowa Luther started tough and stormed out of the gate, taking the first 3 points. It took a huck from Rebholz to Tripoli just to get Madison on the board. A Mahowald sky D keeps the game close as the Hodag D manages to get one break back before half. The 5-7 halftime deficit has the captains uneasy and team moral stunned. We trade points in the second half until a timely goal line layout D by Matt Rebholz brings some energy to our sideline. However, it was Nathan Hurst who single handedly saved the game. With Luther ahead 11-10 and poised to score their O again and push the count to game point, Hurst gets a crucial foot block to bring the game to a deadlock, 11-11. Wisconsin finds its first lead of the day at 12-11, but at 12-12, it was universe point to 13. However, our O was chilly and calmly works it in with Heijman finding Tripoli. We get the victory and survive the most stressful moment of the weekend.

You know all that intensity that was supposed to be flowing through our veins in the first game? Well, I guess we saved it for the second game. We take half 7-1 with some solid offense and a plethora of hot defense including a sick Matt Scallet layout D. We lose some steam in the second half, willing to trade points the rest of the way out 13-7. This becomes a familiar trend for the tournament, win the first half and trade out.

Round 3 is against Colorado State University. We take our bye round and prepare for the last pool play game. Muffin makes an appearance and gets a D and assist on the first point. The D line is rolling and facilitates several breaks to a 5-2 lead. We take half at 7-3, but lose that 2nd half intensity. Again, we trade points after the solid lead and finish 13-9.

A 3-0 pool play finish leads to a crossover versus Georgia Tech. The wind begins to pick up a little, but the Wisconsin machine begins to roll. Madison builds a 7-4 lead and holds a firm command of the tempo at halftime. GT is pesky, sticking around in the game with their solid offense. For one stretch, the offenses take turns just immediately hucking goals. The Hodag defense is fiending for breaks and they finally find the disc turned in their end zone. A Hohenstein in-cut and floaty bomb forehand pits one Will Lokke versus the infamous Hensley Sejour. According to Hensley speed kills, but Mr. Lokke knows how to jump (and box out), ruthlessly getting the best of Sejour in the air. But the trading continues, again, 6-6 in the second half for a 13-10 final. Wisconsin completes the day 4-0, seals the deal for the #1 seed for Sunday, and for the first time gets to relax on Spring Break.

Sunday is just as beautiful as Saturday with a little more sun. The Hodags are slated to play prequarters against Winona State. This is pretty funny actually. Transfer students Dan Miller and Shane Hohenstein hail from the Winona State Jimi Hendrix’s. So the pregame cheer “Traitors” sounded about right. It sounded better with an early break coming from a Shaner flick bomb to Miller. We came out a little stronger overall this morning and put down State 13-8.

I think someone actually rigged the tournament. They called it Terminus, but in reality it was really CCC2. Another quarterfinal match-up with NCST?!? I wonder what happened, would it be as bad as the first time? I think it might have been worse. It was like 15-6 instead of 13-5. It really just came down to fundamentals, they would turn the disc and we would score it. It was a vicious cycle and they were clearly not having any fun playing Wisconsin.

We rolled into Semifinals and smelled the blood. We said to ourselves, they don’t deserve it and we meant it. We remembered CCC finals and told ourselves that we would not let MSU even think they had a chance to win, not even a taste of hope. Michigan State’s short rotation was clearly their demise and they looked tired both on and off the field. Dan Miller makes his patented ridiculous play of the day. The deep huck goes up and Miller has to make up the ground, trailing his man. At the last possible moment Dan layouts about 5 feet off the ground and bids past the offender to get another super sick D. We came out pretty strong overall and the game was not as close as the score suggests 15-8.

That landed us in finals paired with the hometown favorite Jojah. The game was scheduled to go to 17. This was a rematch of semifinals of CCC where Georgia was dominated 13-4. This game would be no different. “I mean, who are da five greatest rappers of all time? [Counting on his fingers] Dylan… Dylan… Dylan, Dylan and Dylan. Because I spit hot fire!” Well, regardless if Dylan can breathe fire and shoot lasers out of his eyeballs, he is not immune to the Wisconsin technique of rolling teams. Because for all the hype, Callahan talk, shameless worshipping, Dylan does not like to play Wisconsin anymore. He asks questions like “Who is this guy?” and “Why didn’t I catch that disc?” The answer: Drew Mahowald. I would describe the final as a feeding frenzy. Georgia’s offense pretty much goes through Tunnell every time. They depend on him to make plays and will literally force the disc to him even if he is covered by a blanket. Thus, when you continually force the disc to Tunnell and that guy is being guarded at the hip by someone just as tall and athletic, there will be plenty of opportunities to make plays. Drew guarded Dylan every point he was in and made his life miserable. I think Drew D’d or got a turn on Tunnell at least 7 times and scored around 5 goals in the final from various Hodag precision hucks. It was a pretty incredible performance, and even more surprising because this is the 2nd time that has happened. Anyway, Wisconsin goes up 11-6 before Georgia makes their move, breaking the O several times and tightening the game to 10-11 before the Hodag D line can show the O how to score, punching it in and riding the wave to a 17-11 victory. With 9 breaks to Wisconsin’s credit, the defense really carried the Hodags in the final.

A 17-11 finals victory meant free championship tournament t-shirts and discs. We made sure to get those sweet Frisbees that say “Terminus Champions” into the fray of the team picture. And that is how we started Spring Break off right.

See repeated pictures of Drew getting Tunnell

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spring Break

The first weekend of spring break was spent in Atlanta, GA for Terminus, where the Hodags won all their games. Terminus Bracket. They'll be spending the week relaxing in Tybee Island, GA (outside Savannah), and possibly be scrimmaging other springbreaking college teams around there, until St. Patrick's Day in Savannah.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Party in Mardi Gras

We came into this tournament confident of our goals. With tournament victories here the last two years, we wanted to win Mardi Gras. We wanted to set the tone for the season plus make teams respect and fear us, especially after placing 3rd in Vegas.

Saturday morning the fields were already waterlogged and it was forecasted to rain all day. The storm turned the sky dark and it consistently poured all day. The driving winds came and went but when the temperatures dipped, playing ultimate and staying warm became quite difficult.

Game 1 vs. Vanderbilt. Our first round game turned out to be the closest of the weekend. We got plenty of turns early, especially for the 10-minute point where the driving rain and torrential monsoon soaked everybody at the fields for the rest of the day. Wisconsin put in 2 quick goals and maintained a solid lead all game, but the conditions made for an upwind-downwind type of game and Vandy managed to stick around, putting in 8 goals. Our defensive offense was still struggling and taking too many risks with the disc. Muffin had one of the funnier sequences on Saturday, attempting to throw 2 forehand hucks upwind during a specific downpour and both were so buttery slick that the disc “Bongarded” straight into the ground twice on the same point. It wasn’t until 2 D points later until he found his groove, actually completing a forehand bomb upwind. Final score was 13-8 Hodags.

Game 2 vs. Washington University (St. Louis). The weather conditions forced most teams into playing zone because the disc was so hard to move consistently. WashU began to punt the disc downwind to the deep D who would continually get the turnover. On one occasion, Shane randomly head-D’s a disc in between 2 defenders! Our offensive unit looked smooth and under control, with Tom Annen and Matt Rebholz burning kids O2 and holding down the backfield swings. The 13-4 final score was followed by the bye round where many of the Hodags could be seen huddled together on 2 picnic benches trying to shovel in as much warm jambalaya as possible.

Game 3 vs. North Texas. This was one of our statement games of the weekend. UNT is a cocky group of players who think they are God’s gift to ultimate. They play with a chip on their shoulder and have those awful popped collars. We come out with the attitude that this is another step to winning the tournament and we want to prove to UNT that this tournament belongs to us, that they cannot play at our level, and that they are certainly not a top tier team. We did this to perfection, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Early in the game UNT begins to punt the disc downwind, making the defensive offense work the disc the whole field to score breaks. After one said punt and during another moment of driving rain, Muffin puts the disc into play at his own goal line and proceeds to jack a flick to Gigo about half field, Gigo catches the disc without any defense and immediately bombs a backhand the rest of the field to Shaner as he scores on their best and cockiest player in 2 throws! At this point North Texas is discouraged and begins to screw off, throwing thumber punts and silly throws, just giving the turnovers away. They essentially gave up and conceded, 13-4 Hodags. So 3-0 in pool play and time for the crossover game. But Iowa was late getting to the fields so we resolved to scrimmage ourselves in the rain to stay warm. We had one of the best zone points of the day, 50+ throws upwind combined with the confusing fact that everyone was wearing blue, pretty impressive.
Game 4 (crossover) vs. Iowa. The fact that we scrimmaged ourselves was probably the worst thing ever for Iowa. Both units were so competitive that our intensity spiked and by game time we were really pumped to just finish the day and win a central region match-up. We started the game on defense and it never left the field, even managing to pull in the second half, 13-0. I think Iowa only gave a pure effort for the first couple of points before losing all hope of victory. On one possession Iowa worked it with a couple of hammers and then put a deep throw on Shane. Mr. Hohenstein made up the distance and right when Iowa is about to score, Shane launched his body into the air, smashed the frisbee, and then proceed to demolish the player he just blocked. Halftime was dedicated to Tim Pearce, who was almost freezing to death, so we correctly nicknamed him hypo-thermia. This was a double OATBAG in one game, but we were happier to just leave the wet fields.

Festivities – We didn’t quite make it to New Orleans as planned, but we hit up the hotel happy hour and the tournament party, which boasted large amounts of crawfish, due to the season opening. Hodag alum Tyson Park made $5 for biting off and eating a pig’s snout, wow. Many hodags learned the art of eating crawfish, while others tried to get dry clothes for Sunday, while Mike Lang disappeared, something to do with a pickup truck and arriving home very late without his wallet…
Sunday: Game 5 (prequarters) vs. Tennessee. The weather was the exact opposite of Saturday; warm, dry, sunny and very soft fields. However, it was much windier so we stayed with the zone. Tennessee struggled with several Ottum pulls that rolled out the back of the end zone and Lokke caught one mack-ricocheted disc for a Callahan. Dan Miller had several nice nonchalant D’s and we took at 7-0 lead at half with Tennessee playing for pride, trying to score at least one point. A funny moment occurred when all of sudden Tenn. gets off a big huck downwind and the deep Foster is forced to hustle over 40 yards to make a play on the disc while the entire team holds their breath. At this point, we made it 26 straight points and were struggling with creating a new phrase to replace the inadequate OATBAG. Something like, “HODAG LOVE ALL IN YOUR EYEBALLS.” Tennessee was very spirited, even cheering for us, and one player who picked up the disc at the back of his end zone while being trapped said, “I probably won’t even complete a throw here, but it’s okay. You guys are going to win anyway.” We were confident, striking fear into our opponent’s hearts, and getting teams to roll over for us.

Game 6 (quarters) vs. Texas A&M. Our warm-up for this game was sliding box drill. We were pretty relaxed to start the game and quickly fell down 2-4. Our offense held upwind and it was on our defense to get us back in the game, after being down the first time all weekend. We responded very well for our first test of the weekend with actually the #1 play of the weekend. Drew Mahowald pulled downwind from the left side of the field and threw it cross field and about 15 yards out of bounds. As the D line trotted down the field expecting the pull to be out, it somehow caught an edge and fell just inside the front cone. Nate Hurst had been hustling down and intercepted the hitch with a superman layout clap Callahan break. It was so ridiculous that Dan Heijman screamed so loudly that he instantly lost his voice for the rest of the tournament. We were so pumped up by this play that we proceeded to break A&M 5 more times in a row to bring the score to 9-4. James Scott had a super nice cannon of a flick upwind that hit Chris Doede in stride to help another break in en route to a 13-7 victory.

Game 7 (semis) vs. Kansas. This was undoubtedly the most satisfying victory of the weekend, yes even better than back-to-back shutouts. Why? Because we love beating Kansas! We had tons of sweet plays in this game starting with Heijman’s silky smooth forehand hucks to Will Lokke repeatedly. Kevin Riley’s goal line break throw going upwind was pretty sick too and Rodrigo had a huge sky D on the crazy looking guy from Kansas that would have been an upwind break. Shane continued to smash frisbees and defenders as he racked up the monster D’s and instilled the fear of God into opponents with his audacity for laying out. Mike Lang was even called into the game, while Tripoli was too busy looking cool on the sidelines to get called in. Frederick started catching hammer D’s despite a pulled groin and then there was Drew on Sunday. Shane threw a pretty comedic backhand huck upwind to Gigo but didn’t put much on it and it became a 2-catch disc. It gave Kansas enough time to get their entire junior varsity squad over there, but also gave Drew enough time to completely posterize the big crowd. Reminiscent to Shane, Mahowald came in with such bold fearlessness, he knew he was going to sky for that disc, confidence like that is hard to teach. The final score was 13-3 Hodags. I will say Kansas was beating themselves by dropping discs, but Wisconsin played really well.

Game 8 (finals) vs. Texas. A rematch of last year’s finals, but Texas had their last two games taken to universe point. Wisconsin came into this game super excited because we wanted that money, especially after learning that Bella Donna had already cashed in with a tournament victory. We jumped out to a 2-0 lead and starting cruising. Dan Schmit launched an upwind backhand that almost left the atmosphere before Drew skies it for another break. Another Drew sky was late in the game when Muffin caught on O2 and unleashed a huge flick upwind, which 4 Hodag receivers converged on it before Mahowald skies Gigo, Freddy, and Drews and no one from Texas. Rebholz was consistently getting hacked on his backhand hucks, Muffin got a couple nice layout D’s, and our offensive unit was clicking nicely, only getting broken once upwind all weekend. We finished off Texas 13-6 on our way to winning a third straight MG and $2,000. We collected our free discs and devoured the delicious king cake.

One week until Spring Break and Terminus down in Georgia.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi Gras. Traditionally, Christians' final fling with hedonism and bachannalia before Lent begins and we give up our vices for a few weeks of piety.

But this is not an article about religion. This is about the Hodags. And the way they arrived at the Baton Rouge fields with the same fanfare as the crews' parade floats down Bourbon Street.
Many minds turned toward the still-evident devastation of Katrina, including the Hodags. How could they help reestablish a sense of normalcy? What little part could they play to allow the healing to continue?

Simple. They would come and do what they do every year: beat down teams and cash checks.
The Mardi Gras tournament has for three years now given away a cash prize to the winners of the top college divisions. And for the third time, the Hodags went to pick up their check. Facing no real competition as they ate through happy-to-be-theres and nationals hopefulls, the Hodags took home names, numbers, and $2000.

Here are their scores:
Pool Play (Saturday)
vs Vanderbilt 13-8
vs Washington U 13-4
vs North Texas 13-4

Elimination Play (Sunday)
vs Texas A&M 13-7
vs Kansas 13-3
vs Texas in finals 13-6

And the $2000 purse. Congrats to the Hodags, but be vigilant, and remain focused. Nothing matters until May.