Friday, July 13, 2007
2007 UPA COLLEGE CHAMPIONSHIPS
A Muffin’s Recipe for Winning a National Championship and Building a Dynasty
The first thing you need is a group of players who love ultimate. They need to love it, dream about it, think about it, and eventually become obsessed with it. After they live and breathe ultimate you will need to convince them to become dedicated to the team’s program. Then you need those 7 stud players who can all dominate one position and responsibility on the field to play their hearts out. Once players have roles on offense and defense, it allows the team to play as a well-oiled machine – becoming a frightening experience for competitors. Next, you need preparation. That is time on the track, in the weight room, and bonding with the team. Then all you need is a little bit of strategy and the desire and courage to be National Champions.
To all the haters out there, this one is for you – The 2007 Wisconsin Hodags are the best college ultimate Frisbee team ever.
In the very first full team practice of the year, Dan Heijmen was in the midst of his 2007 introductory speech. He was talking about how sweet it was to be a Hodag, how much fun the team would be, the goals for the year, and what he expected. Dan was overwhelming positive in his analysis with confidence spilling with every thought. And then Heijmen said something unusual for the first practice of the year. “I believe the 2007 Hodags could be the best team ever.” The moment Dan dropped that line; many of the returnees were immediately unnerved and even annoyed. Wisconsin graduated eight 5th year players, how could a team replacing them with freshman and Pimpdags be better than that? Wisconsin had the most successful season in Hodag history and lost in National Finals the previous year somewhat due to our unwavering confidence and belief that we would just win. That blinded belief was part of the reason the Hodags lost on that unfortunate Sunday. But Heijmen was the most accomplished Hodag on the team, 2nd year captain, in his fifth year as a Hodag. Dan had said the magic words, “We could be the best team ever.” The first time I heard it, I called it sheer overconfidence and excitement for Heijmen’s last season. Now, nine months later, Dan was right. But the reason this team was the best was due entirely to the leadership and steps to preparation the Hodags put in. Tom Burkly had set the bar of leadership very high. He had rigorously planned out every practice and workout. He had every practice, team meeting, and responsibility accounted for. The Hodags saw how this helped, how a team of wild college kids were pulled together by one driving force. Burkly was a dominate leader and organizer, having every detail planned out including buying team shorts, but Heijmen had a way with his words. He convinced a group of college kids, that the Wisconsin Hodags could be the most important thing in life. Dan convinced 24 players to make ultimate a priority. Let there be no mistake, anything less than a National Championship would be a complete failure of the season.
With all the anticipation of the 2007 season, the team had some growing pains. Learning the systems, adjusting to new players and roles, getting to know the dynamic of the team, and even bonding were not as easy as the team of 2006 with 19 returnees. Thus, the season was not all chocolate and butterflies. Despite the pains, the team showed something incredible – its competitive nature. Even from the moment tryouts began, everything was one giant competition to see who was best – the fastest, strongest, biggest jumper, best thrower, etc. Even in tryouts there were no guaranteed spots – everything had to be earned and if you did not come to play, you would get bitched at practice. The competitive fire of the team only led to competitive practices. It led to players freaking out, getting excited, and trying their absolute hardest. This overall effect of competitiveness led to something that could only be called heart and grit. It was the desire to win. Every person on the team hated to lose to such an extent, that nothing would be held back in the struggle to succeed. If you were beaten during practice, you could expect to hear about it off the field in trash talk, which was only motivation to play your best all the time. It was reading the “First 40 Years of Ultimate” that made the Hodags what they were this season. For hours on cross-country car rides, players would read pages and pages out loud to a carload of eager listeners. The different email lists for offensive and defensive players, the intense practices, fiery competitors like Kenny Dobbins, and the crazy crowd support made the Hodags think. How could a team win 6 Club titles? The best answer I found was that they refused to lose, making miraculous comebacks when needed and playing even through torn ligaments. Ted Tripoli was quick to remind the Hodags that without a coach, players needed to step up and take control when situations turned for the worst. Finding and maintaining that competitive fire, the 2007 Hodags became the best college team ever.
Chris Doede was the first to question. Why aren’t we lifting in the fall? By winter break, every player had his own personal workout routine and lifting partner. Lifting form was corrected, personal stats and bests were measured, and every Hodag was being pushed to be the best he could be. The winter workouts were the measuring stick. How hard had you been working and who is going to win? It was no longer completing the workout; it was an attempt to win the hardest workout. The bar was set to the highest level, to challenge the fastest in every running workout, which caused player by player to be tested beyond his limits and pushed to failure. When the choice between quitting the workout or fighting on, many Hodags found their legs sore the next morning. Excuses were made, and numbers dwindled, but anyone healthy enough and ballsy enough to continue made incremental gains.
Dan Heijmen said, “I want to be in the best in shape come Vegas.” When Trouble in Vegas rolled around, the Hodags were the best in shape. When other teams were dragging and winded, the Hodags were deep and working hard. It did not matter that Madison had not practiced throwing, sets, or anything related to ultimate. All that mattered was that there were 7 super crazy, super athletic, strong man-studs on the field who were determined to not get scored upon. Using high school defensive basketball principles: “It doesn’t matter if you miss every shot you take, as long as you can prevent the other team from scoring, you will win.” The defensive level was set high. Strategy was incorporated from Madison Club and dedication to personal fitness continued.
However, one other area remained unanswered – the mental game. Wisconsin was notorious for not finishing games or starting games strong and fading. In the 2006 preview, Hector even called out Wisconsin saying the mental game was the biggest weakness. This year would be different. It was our mental game that let us down in National Finals, something every returning Hodag would remember for the rest of his life. The mental strategy was stressed beyond belief. There was no doubt that every category was being addressed. As the pieces fell into place, Wisconsin found itself in the midst of a 42 game winning streak, 6 consecutive tournament victories, and even a Hodag alumni victory and win over Sub Zero. The stars were aligned so perfectly that Wisconsin even beat Carleton in Regional Finals. It was unbelievable. Now that the stage is set, Wisconsin with the #1 seed at Nationals and a relatively nice pool, everything was perfect.
Let’s start 2 weeks before Nationals. With the longest stretch of the season without serious ultimate, Dan Heijmen was getting nervous. With Centex being the last significant day of ultimate besides Regional Finals, Wisconsin needed a big time game. So with one week to go before Nationals, the Hodags decided to play Sub Zero in Minneapolis on graduation weekend with only 18 guys. Madison wanted a competitive game, a struggle, a challenge. That was exactly what they got. As the score showed 3-7 in a game to 15, Wisconsin called a timeout. Jack Marsh gave the most inspirational speech at the time, laying out the scenario and giving the war cry. Wisconsin started running faster on the field and the game turned to the Hodags favor. The Hodags stole back one break before half to only be down 5-8. With a little confidence, Wisconsin exploded to a 10-2 run in the second half to win 15-10. It was that grit again, that win with our legs and our heart attitude. Carleton had played Sub Zero earlier that day and was also down 3-7. Carleton would not have the athlete’s to make up the difference and would fade, losing in a blowout. However, Wisconsin would find itself in the exact same position and would fight back. It would only take one ridiculous play to get the Hodags going on full octane and once that desire to not lose kicked in, Wisconsin willed itself to victory, overcoming several Kyle Gill foul calls, reminiscent to Brown’s calls in the alumni game. That game would be a true test of Wisconsin’s character and great preparation for the Nationals.
Apparently Heijmen’s brother’s girlfriend could hook Wisconsin up fat with Marriott points and give every Hodag a bed for Nationals. If you know the Marriott, you would realize it was “way nicer than any hotel we would have the right to be in.” The beds are unbelievably comfortable and every Hodag was excited to be in Columbus by Wednesday night. As soon as Thursday morning began there was a definite air of suspense. Madison had practice at noon on the showcase fields and saw both Colorado leave and Stanford arrive. The setup of the top fields was sweet with a small side hill to view from. The fields are nice, freshly cut, and pretty perfect. Wisconsin would leave the fields in good spirits, but would realize that there would be much to do on the eve of the UPA College Championships with a last minute captain’s meeting, dinner, Concierge food gorging, a Hodag team meeting, and head shavings.
The weekend of College Nationals was absolutely amazing. It was like summer camp with every moment filled with dinners, team meetings, and team activities making it a rollercoaster ride. The parents were more excited than some players and there started a small frenzy. Email after email spoke of the food at the fields, team dinners, team shirts, hotels, Hodag Hankies, and coordination of events. One specific moment of anticipation was at the team slideshow dinner with the parents. There was a “knock on wood” moment when the parents predicted a finals appearance after dominating 3-0 in pool play. It was the gratifying moment when Wisconsin found itself there and with a chance to reclaim the title for the Hodags after coming so extremely close in 2006. With lessons learned from the previous year, Wisconsin was an overpowering force.
However, when the pools were posted and Pittsburgh would be the first game of the weekend, several Hodags were concerned. This would be the 5th time in a season that Wisconsin would play En Sabah Nur. This was somewhat distressing considering that in several portions of games, Pittsburgh played even with the Hodags and Wisco wondered how hard Pitt would come out of the gate. If they stayed around, it would take a lot of energy to end them in the first game of the weekend. If Madison was able to get up early, maybe they would crumble. As it turned out, the Hodags were ready to crush on everybody. To be more specific the D line was ready to crush on everybody. To even more specific, Muffin was ready to crush on everything. However, Wisconsin started on offense much to the Defense’s distress. Dan was probably still losing flips on purpose just to get the Offense on the field first. It would be no problem as Captain Matt Rebholz hit the speedy Jim Foster on the open side for the 1-0 hold. The Hodags sprinted into the end zone for the first time on the weekend and it was clear something incredible was moments away. It was called putting in the scariest line in the country with Q-Tip, Skywalker, Spainzilla, Muffin, Animal, and Scallet in the game. It was a race to get the first D! However, Pitt was looking long immediately and missed on a deep overthrow. As Muffin ran the disc to the line, the force was auspiciously straight-up and backhand. The D line knew they needed to be patient and score the early turns to take a lead. Going straight to the money, Miller gets an in-cut and flows to Shane. As the disc moves across the field, an overthrown pass allows Mista Milly to fly across the field for a layout snag to save possession early in the game. Almost in end zone offense, Shane loops his forehand deep to a cutting Mahowaldy to the open side. The disc hangs for several minutes at an inverse angle before Andrew puts the “sky” into Skywalker for the huge grab and first break of the tournament 2-0. The focus only intensified on the D line as Doede gets in on the action of Nationals, a huge boost from last year after the freak ankle injury the week before Nationals ‘06. Doede’s desire to wreck havoc on the Pittsburgh offense was clear as he hustled all over the field. Shane “My calf is bigger than your head” Hohenstein gets the first sick of the weekend, getting an in-cut layout D near half field, landing directly on this kid – reminiscent of painzilla levels. Shane had clearly had some red bulls and was surely ready to serve up some eaten babies. Hohenslut made the first truly awesome play of the weekend to get the team freaking out and was the first Hodag to earn eye black for the weekend. The deal with eye black was that it would mostly be reserved for the D line and you could only apply it after getting a D. It certainly raised the stakes for making sweet defensive plays and was similar to earning a buckeye on the football helmet for The Ohio State. The sick D allowed the handlers to move the disc around in the back field before an Animal around swing pass gets macked by a defender, only to have Dan Miller streak from the end zone across 20 yards to make a huge layout 2 handed catch to save possession. The second straight sick layout by a Winona boy was ridiculous! As if the Defense needed to get any more excited!? As Scallet and Animal find the O2 lane, Muffin hits Q-Tip on the break side for the 3-0 break. With a lead, Wisconsin starts to open it up, getting Gaynor and Seth in on the destruction. With fresh legs and intensity, En Sabah Nur cannot find open cutters as Wisconsin’s game speed play is just faster. Every parent on the sideline said the Hodags looked just phenomenal on the field and with Shane screaming, “Can’t fuck with the taper” from the sideline, the Hodag fire was starting to burn. As Pittsburgh is struggling with Wisconsin junk, there is another turn near midfield. Muffin immediately picks up the disc and launches an outside-in backhand which sits on a shelf before Zip-Loke cleans it up now 4-0. As Cullen and Bobby get into the action, Seth Meyer begins to assert his dominance. Seth, who should have also bleached his hair to have 2 Q-tips on the team, gets a sweet D in the air as Pitt is in disbelief. Muffin finds Animal in the up field and hits him for the goal 5-0 lead. By now, the Offense is getting frustrated about not getting into the game as Evan takes over the pulling duties as Muffin takes a rest. Pittsburgh, takes a breath, and gets on the board with the super tall handler and fast cutter with the hat making a deep connection 5-1. The crowd groans knowing the OATB was lost and the shutout no longer a possibility. However, the rested O-face looks as good as ever, as Jack Darsh throws a nice floater to space as the flashy Tim Pearce burns his defender to the end zone 6-1. Pearce could later be overhead, “I would have tried to run faster if I had my blazing fast red shorts on, but these black ones don’t make me look as good.” The starting D line would not break again with a switching error letting Pittsburgh take a good match-up deep and score the goal 6-2. The game becomes interesting as Pitt is able to get a turnover. However, the high octane power Offense was playing smothering D as they got a stall. Rebholz and Bonkers kept the disc moving until K-Fed winds up and hits Heijmen for a cross field hammer 7-2. As the D line prepared to take half, the sideline support was showing as the Wisconsin fans and sideline players were helping on the field. The Defense gets the turn on a deep sky D by Skywalker and when the disc swings to Muffin, Andrew Mahowald makes his deep cut. En Sabah Nur is still forcing backhand, but Muffin went for the immediate kill and puts a deep flat backhand out to space in which Skywalker showed his hops as he perfectly snatched a huge sky and bookends for the 8-2 halftime momentum swinger after Pitt had closed the gap. This is about when Pittsburgh began to actively back Andrew “Skywalker” Mahowald downfield.
During half, Dan was almost speechless for a moment. Then he remembered how excited he was to play in his last ever college tournament and gave the rallying cry. Dan had maneuvered the team into perfect position – playing almost as flawless as the first half of 2006 against Michigan, making only 1 turnover. With all of the right breaks going Wisconsin’s way and clean ultimate, there was nothing to say but nice job and keep on working. As the second half began, Wisconsin was still running at a speed unknown to Pittsburgh and the rest of the competition on Friday. Cutters were sprinting for entire points and no second existed to hang the head after the turn because the transition offense was unstoppable. Andrew Mahowald had caught fire and was playing some of his most dominant ultimate of the year. He was guarding the top studs and giving them the business. Drew has no need to contain, he only knows how to destroy and make plays. With the D starting the second half, Mahowald gets a second sick deep D and Pittsburgh is stunned. Muffin quickly puts the disc into play and sends another deep backhand to space to which Andrew took bookends again now 9-2. With the 7 point advantage, it is safe to put in Ben Feldman as Hollywood makes a play to get some eye black with a D in the lane. With the disc near midfield and Muffin heating up, Malecek fires a hammer cross field to an open Jon Gaynor the 10-2 lead. Muffin, having caught fire, was replaced by Riley on the D line after his 3 straight assists for the second time in the game. Freshman Jeremiah Berlin was even playing super hard defense, but Pitt had taken enough of a beating and shoved a disc in 10-3. The Offense was pumped to get in the game as Heijmen went deep to Jack Marsh immediately for the 11-3 lead. The D line could not break this time 11-4, but Adam Drews made his debut appearance of the year! After a severe abdominal pull all year, Drews was allowing Wisconsin to play every single player available in the first game of Nationals. With a whole team atmosphere Wisconsin was rolling as Heijmen goes deep to a super fast Jim Foster 12-4. Wisconsin could smell the blood and see the weakness in Pitt’s walk and knew to step on the throat and end it quickly. Tom Annen loads up the cannon and lets one rip deep to Gaynor who goes up like a baller and makes the sky that could only be labeled as “sick.” Muffin was not done with Pittsburg yet, as Malecek rips a break mark low release flick huck under the markers outstretched fingers goal line to goal line upwind 75 yards as Tim Pearce had set up a deep cut from two moments before the disc was even in play for the 14-4 lead. At this point, Muffin had thrown half (7) of Wisconsin’s goals, all for breaks. With the desire to beat his team-mates in fantasy Muffin launches one more flick deep which Feldman tracks down inches away from the end zone. A backhand break to space finds Mahowald in the transition for his 4th goal of the game as Wisconsin wins 15-4. The first game finished without a hitch, no hard fouls, and no calls really to note at all. There was too much excitement from the crowd and pressure to keep the game moving from the observers that nothing went to question. Heijmen brought in the team and told us how much he loved us and that we had played beyond expectations. There was a magic feeling in the air; Madison had just crushed a team that had played us hard 4 times during the year. It was a day of magic because the biggest upset of the tournament was balls deep.
Soon after the thrashing of Pitt, the rested Hodags were free to peruse the game of their choice, with several players checking out Kansas. However, Florida was still prime on the mind as Wisconsin looked to avenge their only loss of the season. But Florida was struggling against Delaware whose excitement of Nationals was overwhelming. The first report was that Sideshow took the lead at 11-10, but Florida man-ed up, made some calls, and fought back to lead 11-12. Madison assumed the fairy tale was over with Florida back in control of the game as Wisconsin was called back to warm up and forced to miss the ending. As Wisconsin ran box drill in the end zone, the first scream from the crowd let us realize something was up. “Couldn’t be,” someone said, but it was Nationals and anything can happen. We assumed the first roar was the game point D by Delaware, but moments later the louder roar of the crowd left no other alternative. Florida had lost? Well, Cyle was clearly a large part of that team and perhaps Florida just overlooked their first game. It was mostly just funny that the Metro Easy would pwn the defending champions the first game of the weekend. No one knows why the #1 should play #3 in the first game of pool play, but it was happening and some teams must have thought it was “not as competitive as Centex.” Either way, this loss made the possibility of meeting Florida in quarterfinals very real as they could be the #2 seed out of the B pool and set to play the first game on Saturday. That was an exciting possibility as Madison foamed at the mouth for another shot at UFUCT.
Moments before our second game began, Wisconsin had a little time to fraternize with the parents and friends and grab from the mountains of food and sports drinks. The parental support this year was unbelievable. It was the hottest weather the Hodags had competed in all year, but the Hodags had 2 tents full of coolers of drinks and tons of fruit and power bars. The parents had Hodag hankies jet black and baby blue along with both red and blue t-shirts reading Wisconsin Ultimate and Hodag Love. It was easy to tell which sideline was Wisconsin because it was packed with players and fans in baby blue. The drunken alumni and player siblings might have been the best part though, because they were strangely keeping the heckling respectful… not anything like semifinals versus Georgia in ‘06.
The second game of Nationals would be Kansas. They were the bane of the Hodags existence back when they won CCC 2005 with the crafty zone defense. The Hodags have dominated the rivalry since, but have not played the Zontals this entire year. It would make no difference as Caleb and Wilmer would need to have outstanding games to hang with Wisconsin’s depth. Wisconsin would start on defense this game and the game starting chunnel got Wisconsin pumped up for round 2 of domination station. Dan “Q-Tip” Miller was determined to make his presence felt by promising to make at least 3 super nasty plays. The Defense was geared up, jumping around, and getting psyched to make plays. With the eye black bet still on the table for most of the team, it was time to get serious. Who else was going to get it cracking rather than Shane Hohenstein once again proving he is the man? Shaner makes the first D of the game, getting a sky D to start the landslide of pain. Mista Milly gets a hold of the disc and sends a deep looping forehand to Mahowaldy who sticks the disc and spikes it unceremoniously for the break 1-0. With the Defense breaking early, the lines loosened immediately as someone on the sideline whispered, “I want an oatbag.” Matt Rebholz would demand to play defense this game, knowing the O-face would only get so many opportunities. A deep shot would go up with Gaynor and Doede closing. Babyface would be in better position as he would go almost straight up for the disc; however, Doede was flying in late on the play and had momentum. As Gaynor was being sandwiched between 2 Horrorzontals, Jon is just able to tip the disc before Dades leaps the entire pile of players to smack double D the Gaynor macked disc about 15 yards out of the end zone. It was such a super sick play that Jesse was unsure to whom to credit the D. As Wisconsin has certainly realized this year, as soon as someone makes an awesome play, another Hodag has to try to do something just a little bit ballsier. Animal and Rebholz would move the disc quickly up field as Seth Meyer was getting in-cut gainers. Almost to the red zone, Scallet rips a shady forehand blade swooping over the defender’s shoulder before Gaynor catches the disc for the break 2-0. The pressure was building on Kansas as they needed their offense to score to prevent the game getting out of hand almost immediately. Kansas could also not match the Hodags intensity player for player and missed the deep shot with an overthrow. Muffin walks the disc up the cone and gets a brutal straight up force. Several jukes later Malecek finds Bucket’s tricky O2 move and floats it around dogging defender with an outside-in backhand to space. Rilers is pumping his elbows so hard as this point that he is in risk of tearing his collarbone from his shoulder, but lays out anyway for clap-roll into power position and rips his huge backhand just as far as he can launch it. Will Lokke is sprinting deep to space and skies his defender for the break goal 3-0. As Bobby Lau flexed as he walked onto the field, the D line was again pitching a shutout. The problem was that someone had already said the magic word of OATBAG, which clearly jinxed the possibility as Kansas found the end zone for the first time 3-1. With a three break lead, it was finally safe to put in the Offense, knowing it would be okay even if they tried to get broken. Dan Heijmen was excited to finally get in the game as he was even pivoting on occasion and throwing a fake before his Blue Steel forehand poses. The O-face would falter and turn the disc though, allowing K-Fed to do some damage to Wisconsin’s spirit chances. As Kansas looks for the up-field reset, Kevin is poaching the open lane and barrels into action, layout colliding into the Horrorzontal and causing an injury. As the Kansas player is being ushered off the field, Riley looks to Drewyum and makes an eye black smearing motion for the D that Kansas misinterprets for mocking tears. This was the first of several instances involving Riley which cost Wisco the Triple Crown. But the Kevin Riley show would continue as he found Tim Pearce with a victim for the 4-1 hold. The Defense was no longer prepared to give the Offense a chance to stumble and let the O boys know they would de-cleat until half time. Jim Foster just smirked and Jack stuck out his tongue at the Defense while mimicking his high release blade flick. Jon Gaynor had his eye black stolen by Doede and wasn’t going to forget this. On the first deep pass that goes up, Gaynor makes his presence felt with a big catch D. The transition offense moves the disc quickly as Annen finds Slut with the in-cuts. With about 30 yards out, Matt Scallet eyes up the end zone and sees roommate Dan Miller making some S cut action. Instead of throwing the break backhand, Scadalac throws the blade anvert forehand as Miller pulls it down now 5-1. The game was getting out of control and Chris Doede was going crazy on the field. A Kansas continues to push the disc deep; Dades gets a layout D in the end zone on a deep throw that came up short. Cullen would catch several in-cuts due to Kansas poaching deep to protect the end zone from the deep shot. Wisconsin immediately adjusted, took what was given and Evan Klane found K-Fed for a floater into the end zone 6-1. Heijmen would demand to get back into the game and immediately jacks his flick to a streaking Feldman for the break 7-1. Wisconsin was wasting little time with turnovers or miscues and was making Kansas pay for every turnover. As Wisconsin’s junk was giving Kansas problems, several poaching defenders caused confusion and Muffin got his hand on a disc near mid field for the turnover and short field. Dan Miller would make a sweeping in-cut and find Andrew Mahowald on the continue for the 8-1 half time lead. The Wisconsin Offense had played one point in the first half. The Defense was happy the O-face could rest and stay fresh, knowing the later in the weekend, the Hodags would need those fresh legs to stay with the elite teams. Dan Heijmen once again brought in the team to discuss what was transpiring. At this point, Heyman could only joke about the dominance, but stressed to keep the pressure on. Mista Milly once again let the team know how much more important this next half was than anything prior in the season. Miller was playing like a champ and his intensity let the team know that it was for sure his last tournament of his career. Miller almost broke down with that realization but vowed to continue his finale performance.
By this point in the day, the rest of the alumni had staggered to the fields after the early morning games and had come to cheer enthusiastically. The O-face came out strong as Marsh would send a floating backhand in Heijmen’s direction for the easy clap catch now 9-1. At this point in the game, Wisconsin had D’d Kansas so many times, it now became a competition for Wisco to D its own players. After the turn, Evan Klane is looking for Seth on the in-cut near the end zone cone. Shane, who has also beaten his man on the in-cut, is sweeping into the space a second later. Hohenstein sees an outside throw and full extensions his body covering 6 yards of space mid air to attempt the 1 handed stick catch, but only manages to mack D Seth’s under cut. The disc flaps into the air almost out of bounds on the cone. Seth pops up from the ground following Shane’s D and lays out a second time into the end zone just past his defender who also lays out for the 1 handed stick and break goal 10-1. This was an absolutely ridiculous play and seemed like every break was going Wisconsin’s way with the extra bit of energy from the taper. With a 9 point lead, Jeremiah was geared up to match the Wisconsin game speed. As Kansas worked the disc to the goal line, a foul call let the Zontals set up their end zone isolation play. As Berlin was iso-ed in the open field, Rebholz quickly let the freshman know to set up in front of the cutter and prevent the under. The moment the disc is tapped in the isolated cutter makes a break for the in-cut. Jeremiah is right on his hip and the moment the disc is thrown, Jeremiah busts out his version of the baby Hodag cruise missile of painzilla as he super clutch bid D’s the disc with some contact on the landing. The Wisconsin sideline explodes into frenzy as Jeremiah flies down the field. Muffin sprints to the spot and rips a forehand huck in the transition game that finds Lokke streaking deep alone. Zip-Loke floats the continue backhand to the flying Jeremiah into the end zone for the freshman double happiness and OATBAG! With the OATBAG in hand, it was now safe to play everybody as Drews was ready to test his body. Schmittles ‘n Bits was excited to get back on defense as he made a sweet last moment springy layout D for the turn. Geppert would touch the disc on another well timed in-cut before Babyface Gaynor would find Evan in the end zone for the break 12-1. With absolutely every chance play going in Wisconsin’s favor, it was about time to try the entire freshman line. It would be an adventure but Kansas found a match-up and scored to save some pride now 12-2. At this point, Jim Foster had been getting antsy on the sideline and on his first touch of the disc, J-Fo sends it deep to Heijmen for the long distance hook up 13-2. Kansas had finally found some confidence after its last conversion and scored again on a deep pass 13-3. The O-face would respond as a floaty deep shot from Rebholz gives Heijmen the chance to posterize on the goal line with a sick sky. Heyman finds Miller on the break side for the goal 14-3. As Tim Pearce gave defense another try, Kansas is going deep without a conscience and pulls down another disc for a score 14-4. The Defense hung their heads in shame, knowing they almost always end the game on defense and break to win. The Offense was chill with the disc but a miscue led to turnover. Kansas was working the disc but the second layout D by Bonkers gave the O line new hope. Wisconsin would falter again as Kansas broke the Hodags for the score 14-5. The Horrorzontals would be the first team to break the Wisconsin O and the D line took note – guessing the Offence would be broken by their third appearance in the game. K-Fed knew that if he did not quote “play like a man” the O-face could struggle, and he immediately went deep to Dan Miller to finish the game 15-5.
Wisconsin had finished the round relatively quickly and had almost an entire hour to rest and prepare for what would be coined the pre-quarters game. The Hodags would have another chance to chat with the parents and friends and scout the ending moments of Pittsburgh giving UNC a run for their money. North Carolina would pull off the exhausting victory in what looked like a late huckfest as Wisconsin noticed how much the handlers of UNC were dragging the pivot foot. As the Hodags jogged and stretched before the last game, the bull ring was definitely in order. The O-face was ushered nicely onto the field; wanting no unfortunate accidents like in the past… flashback… the Hodags stand in a circle before a big game as Heijmen gives the inspirational words of excitement. The bull ring ensues and as Dan looks around for whom to call first, he calls Mahowald standing directly next to him. The moment Skywalker bounces into the circle Heijmen gives him a hard 2 handed shove at the exact moment Andrew jumps, rotating him 90 degrees in air and letting Andrew almost face-plant as the first bull ringer. It was extremely random and would have been hilarious if not for Drewyum being the first called, as the freshman were not prepared for Hodag on Hodag violence at tournaments and Wisconsin would want no freak injuries at Nationals. So the O-face was nicely jostled until they were excited enough to claw their way out of the huddle. North Carolina would battle hard, but the black Hodag jerseys were overwhelming as Wisconsin made Darkside wear white. The opening point Wisconsin looked calm and collected as Foster would assert himself in the cutting game by getting an open under cut and sending it deep to Heijmen for the easy goal 1-0. The D line was drinking red bulls like nobody’s business and was super amped to D the disc with every opportunity. UNC would struggle with the junk and suppressive cutter defense and misfire on their deep throws. The Wisconsin handlers were also dominating as Matt Scallet hits Q-Tip on the in-cut. Miller stretches out and hits Mahowald on a well timed in-cut who immediately hits Scallet on the goat move. Scallet now in run ‘n gun mode finds the Animal and makes for the promised land snagging the high release break throw to put Wisconsin up 2-0 before taking contact from 2 Darkside defenders flying past. As the D line continues to flex the guns and rush the field, Scallet decides to play it classy and not disrespect the disc, but after a victory lap around the end zone, Scallet flings it to the ground at a UNC defeated player’s feet for the first indirect spike. It was the beginning of the bad blood with a southern team as it would be the undoing of Wisconsin’s run at the Spirit Award. UNC might have taken exception to the excessive celebration and Washburn was looking to make every play as he sends his huge step out backhand downwind. It was a good looking shot before the realization that Zach was throwing to Shane’s man, which is never a wise decision. Gaynor is flying around on the field and tracks down the deep bomb and moves in for the Hodag Sandwich. With Hodag fans screaming “Yeah Baby” Shane Hohenstein gets the best jump of the pile and kills a baby for the sky D. The Animal was responsible for the foul play on the throw, but with defenders like Seth and Doede flying around, the Hodags were running harder than UNC in what a game the Hodags would consider essentially pre-quarters. As the disc came back into play and after the Washburn swing, the Darksider handler has three in-cuts to choose from. He looked off Shane who was bearing down for the full frontal layout D, and even Seth’s cutter on the break-side with a tough Scallet mark, but the thrower takes his third option, Chris Doede. Dades absolute favorite thing to do in the world is to dominate someone on the field. With a nasty layout D, Doede was practically floating into the end zone as the Wisconsin cutter defenders were starting to become overwhelming for UNC. Darkside was also surprised when Muffin grabbed the disc near his feet and launched a flick deep for the bookends attempt. Doede is freakishly fast and it was no surprise that Chris easily beat everyone to the spot, but dropped the disc as he stepped on the back line out of the end zone. For what seemed like the first time all weekend, a karma play did not go Wisconsin’s way. UNC begins to find some confidence, moving the disc on shifting forces until a cutter’s deflection gains some yards on the break side allowing UNC to move into end zone offense. A Seth Meyer layout attempt on the goal line is just short as #3 gets inside position and barely gets his feet inbounds as he yells “Let’s Go!” spiking his team to some intensity 2-1. It would seem like a good idea to celebrate, but the Wisconsin team at Easterns was no where comparable to the fabled beast that is Wisconsin at Nationals. North Carolina would be estimating a team that had never been unleashed and any early belief of a win should have been demolished after UNC foolishly predicted the upset. With the second appearance of the Offense, the D line players were muttering questions of how many breaks it would take to end the game. However, the O Line is stacked with some nasty players and they could not help but look good with Callahan Dan Heijmen running around. The disc moves easily to Rebholz who continues to a swing to a wide open Heyman. Dan flashes a look of his Blue Steel forehand across field to Darsh. Jack would find Foster cutting across field and clobbering the disc near midfield before using his height to pivot back around his mark and throw a floaty flick to Heijmen now flying across the field. Dan gets inside position, but the full run sky attempt comes a little short. Dan lands on one foot and uses all of his 8 minute abdominal strength to twist his body after the disc and clap bid the disc for the score 3-1. North Carolina’s frustration was beginning to show as Wisconsin was only gaining steam. As Darkside works the disc by cramming it down the line into the Hodag red zone, a backhand is layout blocked by Animal out of bounds. Tom Annen went about 3 feet totally horizontal and at full extension in front of the Hodag sideline and the D looked so good it was considered sick and was given 2 finger snaps. As Scallet was moving the disc from side to side and Shane was unstoppable on the under, Muffin got the disc on a swing. Malecek immediately shows the flick and the mark jumps only to have Muffnuts step through and rip the IO backhand deep to Mista Milly who beats his man and the poaching Washburn for the deep catch in the air. Q-Tip can do nothing but look tough and chicken wing spike the disc for the break and 4-1 lead. North Carolina is working slightly upwind and moving the disc well until Foster lays out and D’s the disc only to have #3 catch the disc immediately near midfield with a ridiculous snag on the ballsy attempt. UNC quickly gets Zach the disc but several hard marking fouls agitates Washburn as he misses deep on a forced attempt which Chris Doede makes sure to layout D. Muffin quickly works the disc to Rebholz who finds Foster on a fast in-cut. The Darkside #3 wanted revenge as he launches his body for a huge layout that barely misses, but cramps soon after. Foster looks deep for Gaynor but Washburn gathers up the short flick for the D. Darkside immediately sends the disc deep again, but Foster is there to contest the throw and the chances escape. Both teams exchange more hucks deep which fall OB and too deep. The marathon point continues as Animal gets an O2, hides the disc twice before Muffin gets the bee and hears the UNC sideline yell “Thrower!” With that kind of enthusiasm, Malecek pumps the flick once to load up the cannons before realizing they were giving him the deep flick. Without further hesitation Muffin launches it to Seth who is flying down the field on the open side in front of Foster who is deeper and in better position. The “Yeah Baby” can be heard openly from the sideline as Wisconsin looks good. At the last moment Seth reaches for the disc and macks it off of his fingertips only to D a wide open Foster with a better angle. It would be the second time a Hodag would drop a deep Muffin ball, but the marathon point would continue. The Wisconsin defenders look freakish fast and well conditioned as no in-cutter is open by any space. On the second in-cut Rebholz takes off and nails a layout D which macks the disc into the air, only to have a heads up Seth sky for the wobbling disc near the end zone. Malecek gets the reset and would look off the hammer and S cut to chill it out and work with Rebholz in the backfield before the timeout call. UNC is battling super hard and the momentum could swing with whichever team grinds out the point. The mental games come into play as a break mark backhand to start the set to Doede is called back on a pick. The marker was toasted but slyly adds, “Don’t worry; I’ll let you break me again.” The karma swing worked as the flick break mark throw comes in extra hot and slides right under Chris’s one-handed stab. The quick turn lets UNC go hucking again as a flick deep looks good until Q-Tip comes screaming into the position with his flaming hair, makes a direct line for the disc and D’s it in the air. Wisconsin takes a breath and looks to try to change the tempo and get out of the huck happy affair. The Hodags look under with crisp throws before Animal saves possession going the other way with a layout snag near midfield. Seth, Gaynor, and Doede all take in-cuts before a little O2 pass finds Muffin’s hands in the red zone. With players all over the end zone, Muffin throws a sick backhand floaty break to space to finally give Wisconsin the edge to end the marathon point 5-1. The defense finally faltered after so many breaks and North Carolina was determined to campaign on punching in the disc to hold on O 5-2. The Wisconsin O-face finally gets onto the field for the 3rd time as the D line holds their collective breath. However, the UNC studs are getting tired and Madison makes easy work of the marks scoring Tim Pearce from Jack Marsh for 6-2 and quickly putting the raging Defense back onto the field. As the lines remained open and the top players could relax on occasion, Wisconsin must have smacked one of its 17 D’s in the game as Scallet rips it to Seth in the end zone for the 7-2 break. With half looming and the D line frothing at the mouth, Ben Feldman gets in on D. Zach Washburn was the center of attention for UNC all game with the disc forced in his direction all game. It’s no wonder a deep shot goes up to #1 and Mahowald is forced to make the goal saving sky D. In the transition game a lazy mark and ridiculous break mark backhand bomb by Muffin to space puts Mahowald in pretty good position deep near the cone. Skywalker explodes from the ground as Washburn closes and sticks the goal for bookends and halftime on the second straight break 8-2. To sum up what actually happened, it could be said that, “Brandon Malecek was able to put up any throw from anywhere on the field all game” (UPA). The game was going Wisconsin’s way at every turn and North Carolina could only witness and say wow. In a gesture of spirit unparalleled, Zach’s dad snapped a perfect picture of Andrew catching his goal, which Washburn gave to Andrew later that day as a memory of Nationals. In many realms of sports, this act would be unthinkable, but in ultimate, it is sweet. Heijmen would need few words to describe the level of our game intensity and the crowd support was overwhelming. However, UNC was determined to play better as they maneuvered a step around break on the goal line to take out a little of Madison’s tidal wave of aggression 8-3. The Wisconsin O-face responded as Foster made it look easy as he gathers in the flick from Rebholz for the underneath slider and jacks it super deep with a little love to the speedy Tim Pearce for the goal 9-3. With the quick strike, UNC is catching a rhythm and abusing the break side with nice around throws hitting another stall 8 step around backhand for a goal as UNC wants to start trading 9-4. The O-face handling corps is looking good as Riley and Rebholz rocket the disc to Jack, before Marsh jacks it deep to J-Fo for the speedy sky on Washburn 10-4. Jack Marsh gets lots of love from the sideline as he makes sure to stick his tongue out at anyone giving him celebration. UNC is just one step short and their big players are getting exhausted for the third game of the day. Miller makes a sweet layout attempt on an in-cut, bleached hair smearing through the air, which quickly leads to another UNC overthrow deep. Muffin walks to the disc to the line and Lokkness is already in full stride down field. A quick shoulder jerk and full field launch puts Lokke in the end zone for the game breaker 11-4. “Let’s Go!” and cheers from the crowd were loud, as Muffin had gone 70+ yards for the assist twice on the day. At this point Wisconsin is playing at least one freshman in every D line and the breaks are still coming. Scallet would rifle another blade hooking flick deep to Gaynor for the break 12-4. The Darkside dominators are getting tired late into the third game and the game is looking like a fight for pride. North Carolina finally connects on a deep look and brings it to 12-5. With some newfound hustle and physical play, they push Riley to the limit. As Bucket is receiving the disc on the hitch, a headhunter is being sent down on the pull and nails Kevin just as he receives the disc. Riley merely absorbed the contact and pivoted around to the break-side, getting the disc in for spacing, bench presses this Darksider several feet with a chest bump sending him into left field. This would the second instance of doom for the Hodag Triple Destruction with the bad blood already with Darkside. The burst of energy was enough for UNC is get a turn and bounce for a break 12-6. The fans stopped cheering and looked shocked… the O line had been broken? The D line shook their heads in shame and vowed to end Friday on a high note. The O-face gave it one more shot at it and scored with a chilly throws until Riley found Marsh on the break side 13-6. The Hodag buddy combo that had the best look on the field of Animal and Muffin, looked at each other and decided it needed to end straight away. Tom looks like a cutter his moves are so good, as Mahowald finds Annen for the goal 14-6. With even Animal making things look easy, Feldman steps up the plate and gets a D and takes off deep. Evan goes deep to Hollywood already 30 yards into his fastest 40 time ever, racing for the disc near the goal line and hitting Gaynor for the goal and 15-6 game ender as Wisconsin claimed dominance in pool A.
Wisconsin would give thanks the fans and get in a good jog, stretch, and Endurox sampling. However, most players were still fresh and ready to go, like Chris Doede who made the most of his opportunities on Friday, getting 5 D’s in 15 points. If you also didn’t realize, Shane is the freaking man because he works scary hard on the field. Having transferred to the team from Winona along with Dan Miller, Shane bought into the Hodag plan and is now a National Champion. Jack Marsh also chose wisely for his graduate school adding National Champion honors to his many other recognitions and nominees. So, if you are good at ultimate and want to win consistently – work for better grades and transfer to UW-Madison.
As Wisco stretched and talked to fans, Heijmen and Scallet reminded the team of the parent dinner that night as we took off our cleats. The Hodags would get to watch the probable quarter-finals match-up on our same field as Florida vs. Oregon was about to ensue. It was fun to heckle, play negative fantasy and root for 2 upsets to push Florida into the ninals bracket. However, Indiana beat Delaware and Florida’s size and isolation were too much for Ego. The wind was also playing a factor and Oregon could not hang with Florida’s game plan, getting away from their normal bread ‘n butter. However, many Hodags were drawn to Carleton’s game against Stanford, looking to see who would come out on top of the pool of death. CUT and Bloodthirsty were battling until the bitter end with the game swinging in both directions on big plays and breaks. It was easy to root for Carleton as Central Love existed for earning a second bid in the region. One truly great heckle came from Andrew Brown who absolutely lit up a Stanford player. Late in the game, Stanford’s Callahan nominee would miss a throw for a turn and then get taken deep into the end zone and skied by Jerome Potter. Sherwood would be too late to the spot for double unhappiness. As Mark tried to shake it off and jog back downfield a “Rough point Sherwood” jeer came loud and clear as ever causing him to slightly smirk on the faster jog to the line. Stanford would have the last laugh as they won the game 16-14 the pool 3-0. It would be a difficult day to swallow for CUT, coming up short by 2 points also to Jojah, almost as bad as Brown’s 0-3 day all within 3 points. However, if you are looking to hear it from the man himself, “‘I think it’s pretty amazing what we’re capable of doing when all 24 guys are running their (rears) off, going crazy and having a great time,’ Heijmen said, looking ahead to Saturday’s game against the winner of Ohio State and Oregon. ‘One of the things we kept saying was it doesn’t matter where we’re playing, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re going to play where the tournament director tells us to, and score as many goals until they tell us to stop’” (UPA).
Wisconsin returned to the Marriott and celebrated the dominant performance by trashing our rooms and putting on the in room bathrobes just to dance. Everybody’s shower was quick except for Will Lokke’s, who needed to wash his newly cut ginger curls at least 5 or 6 times. The ice bath was rumored, but the dinner with the parents came sooner than expected as cars took off immediately after showers. As players walked into the dining room, each Hodag was given an ovation from the parents, which was a surprising experience to say the least with over fifty people in the room. It got ridiculous on several occasions because the same applause came every time a Hodag entered the room again, even if he had already arrived.
The parents pulled out all the stops with a huge projector to a slideshow of pictures (Jim Foster highlight reel) and a huge buffet of pasta foods. The microphone was open for anyone who dared address the entire audience as announcements and congratulations were awarded. Heijmen took no time to get to the stage and say how much he loved his teammates and how thankful he was to Scallet’s parents for planning the banquet and to everyone who came to cheer on Wisconsin, even Kevin’s uncle on Home Alone. The parent’s enthusiasm is empowering, but also overwhelming with such high expectations. The Hodags would return late to the hotel only with a Concierge Lounge full of cake to decimate but also for the team meeting. The plan of attack was laid out to everyone; win quarterfinals, win semifinals. It was the biggest day of the season. Win games at the biggest stage against the best competition. It would be hard as many members of the team had been knocked of the College Champions by Colorado for 2 straight years. The Hodags knew they had to earn the last of day of the season to play ultimate. Wisconsin had to win 2 games to play in finals and it would mean the brink of the whole season. Wisconsin took nothing for granted as all 24 studs fell asleep on a bed and dreamed of dominating.
Just to recap the dominance of the D line, the O line only had 17 opportunities to ruin the game for Wisconsin. The Hodags were certainly confident coming in and felt good with all of the tapering, but not many players expected it to be like 2006 with clear dominance over all teams we faced on Friday. Wisconsin would be running at a speed and intensity unknown to all teams not on the elite tier.
Madison would arrive at the fields late having the first round bye through the pre-quarters games. Saturday’s weather would just as hot as Friday, but the clear sky and mild wind would make for an awesome day of ultimate. Wisconsin would be wearing baby blue today and would have their collective eyes on the prize. Oregon came out on top of hometown favorite The Ohio State and would be the team to beat with Seth Wiggins patrolling the sideline. It was quarterfinals of nationals and the majority of the team had known how it felt to be taken out by higher seed in this game. With a nice sized crowd on the steep sloping hill next to the field, Wisconsin would have strong crowd support all day. As most of the Hodags meandered to the field with less than an hour to go before game time, the warm up time seemed to fly by extremely fast – almost too fast for Jack who lost half of his Waffle House breakfast on the warm up jog. Almost too soon, Wisconsin was running Seattle drill without much intensity and the sideline was filling with spectators. Muffin had been one of the first to the fields and had been warming up his deep game for at least twenty minutes, preparing to put the ultimate community on notice that the cannons were loaded. With only a moment for a quick talk, the Wisconsin sideline seemed to be building up the pressure and excitement, but it was only accumulating under the surface. Nothing had yet pushed it to the edge and made the Hodags explode into game time excitement. Like any other game of the year, quarter-finals started under the radar with the Wisconsin O-face taking the field. The Hodags would look to their leader to take control as Heijmen found Marsh on the midrange forehand for the 1-0 lead going upwind. Wisconsin would rush the field like nobody’s business and Ego would prepare for the worst. Oregon must have had a difficult and tiring pre-quarters game because by the end of this affair, their top offensive line would be dying on the field. Wisconsin would take no time in trying to step on their throats. Oregon would work the disc on break throws and back field resets against the oppressive Wisconsin fronting defenders. Ego would take a shot into the end zone but miss their target. As the D line took possession of the disc, Oregon would come to discover the driving force that makes Wisconsin churn. It would be on the biceps of Malecek as he instantly took over the game. The moment the disc came in, Mahowald takes off deep downwind. Oregon is a confident team who believes in playing under and not respecting the deep game. Wisconsin has fantasies about that type of idiocy as Muffin pumps once and fires a full field flick high and far to the athletic Andrew. Skywalker would get to the spot first and sky his defender for the break 2-0. It was as if someone had poured gasoline and fireworks into a trash can and thrown a grenade into it, for that was the noise and intensity that Wisconsin exploded into the game. Wisconsin had quickly established its deep game in hopes that Oregon would try to adjust and give uncontested in-cuts for awhile. Ego would be stubborn and not adapt to Wisconsin’s game plan. As Wisconsin added Pearce and Gaynor to its frightening D line after trading Miller to the O, it would be too much for Oregon. Muffin would rip a huge pull upwind and Ego would try to get back into the game. It would be to no avail as they missed deep going downwind, giving the disc back to the Hodags. As Muffin walked the disc to the line, there was a moment of daydreaming as Malecek remembered what veteran Ryan Carrington said to him before leaving for Nationals. When asking for some last minute advice from a player who had been on that stage many times, Ryan could only smile as say, “Grip it and rip it.” Taking those words to heart, Muffin was pleased to find a mark taking a step off to prevent the break. As Will Lokke took off deep, Muffin pectoral shoulder jerked his way into some momentum and ripped a ridiculous upwind bomb to which Lokkness absolutely skied the shit out of his defender on a sick read. It would take only one more pass for Lokke to find a wide open Gaynor in a jailbreak for the end zone for the upwind break 3-0. Miller would chest bump Malecek as Wisconsin stormed the field, taking full command of the game and deciding on the line to start taking the in-cuts because Ego would surely be poaching or helping deep. The Hodags were not satisfied as they rode waves of emotion and sideline heckles from Heijmen’s brothers about staying focused on the game and not having too much fun. As Malecek sonic boomed a pull into the back corner, things were looking good for Wisconsin. Oregon would find some success against Wisco’s junk by using a side iso-stack to get the disc moving. However, Oregon would come up short in the end zone one more time on the overthrow turnover. Muffin would once again walk the disc to the line expecting a super hard mark and several deep poachers. However, all Malecek saw was Shane Hohenstein booking it deep with a 4 foot tall defender guarding him and a weak flick mark. It was literally a no-brainer as Muffin put it to space downwind for the Air-Shane bitching. Shane hit Mahowald on the next pass for the break downwind 4-0. With a tremendous start on the guns of Malecek and good deep match-ups, Wisconsin would have full control of an Oregon team who had already played a full game that day. Oregon would recover to score the next goal down wind 4-1, but the damage had been done. The O-face would sprint onto the field like young boys very excited to get another chance to play. Rebholz would make it look easy as he moved the disc to Jimmy Foster on the in-cut. Foster would hit Heijmen who would go midrange to Marsh for the 5-1 lead. The Defense would continue to pressure and find another break as Annen found Doede on the end zone looper now 6-1. Oregon is clearly frustrated with the sudden turn of events and manages to score now 6-2. A deep Ego pull pushes Wisconsin deep into their end zone as they try to work it out. As a swing pass goes to Miller near the sideline, Dan takes an extra step on the catch and steps on the line. The sideline observer makes the call, which gives Ego a short field to which they punch in a break to tighten the game to 6-3. The D line was agitated to give back a break but the Offense was still confident and more than capable. However, the sudden resurgence back into the game put Ego on the rise as they played like their tournament lives depended on it. The physical play increased to tense levels as Kevin Riley almost lost his cool in one exchange. The Oregon mark crashed into him initially and was very closely straddling and almost humping K-Fed’s leg. Bucket slide the disc between the mark and pivoted hard to the break side, for the second time bench pressing the mark to create enough room to slosh by and throw the disc. The Oregon player did not like being pushed and called a foul, bringing the disc back and destroying Wisconsin’s shot at the spirit award, once again costing Wisconsin the Triple Crown and Kevin’s third “instance” of the weekend. The point would drag with several turns by both teams, allowing Dan Miller to create some mayhem with super sick deep layout D. The Wisconsin O could also thrive on some intensity as Heijmen was instrumental in finding Kevin Riley for the goal 7-3. The D would not be able to convert as Oregon kept the game within range 7-4. The Offense would be chill and unfazed as Riley and Rebholz hit Miller underneath on one sideline before Wisconsin seamlessly resets the disc to the other side of the field allowing Riley to hit Heijmen with a big huck forehand deep. Heijmen makes the easy catch and quickly resets to Miller for the give and go move, but Miller sees Jack on a sweet open side cut for his third goal of the game taking half 8-4.
Halftime would still be delicious with tents full of fruit, cold drinks, sun block, and even brownies. The brownies might have been a bad idea for the Defense’s gluttonous ways as Ego would take advantage of the rest. However, Oregon is relying on the break mark with only 2 handlers back and a center stack as they struggle to move the disc quickly. The Ego handlers showcase the high release flick, but only because they are too lazy to get down low and throw it hard and accurately. I guess that is the school of thought following Ben Wiggins release points theory of Disc 1. Other team’s would probably need to take under cut throws with the high release bullshit because big time cutter defenders in Shane Hohenstein, Will Lokke, and Drew Mahowald should scare the living shit out of handlers as they patrol the down field. A short around throw misses and gives Wisconsin the disc which Muffin quickly hucks on a contested throw downfield to Shane which turns over out of bounds. Ego has another chance to claw their way back into the game by getting a deep pass to the goal line. Before the Hodags are able to drive back Oregon from the goal line, the high release scoober is going to be too far for the intended target but a layout grab out from another Ego cutter coming out of nowhere and flashing in last second stick just almost skimming the grass 8-5. Oregon’s ensuring zone would be getting thrashed by the O-face before a hiccup on the rush to the end zone as Foster turfs a quick throw to Miller allowing Ego to look for a break. Rebholz makes at least one bid, but Oregon is being very patient. A floaty in-cut backhand is just missed by Q-tip flying past and a Riley collision layout is overruled as no foul. K-Fed twice goes for the cross field hammer hitting both Miller and Heijmen consecutively as Heyman spikes the blade straight into the ground almost comically after the score 9-5. Jeremiah and company continue to rush the field to stay focused as the Wisconsin sideline intensity was about to blow the game wide open. Ego is moving the disc on the break side still as Mahowald makes a sweet layout bid for a swing on the mark. Moments later Drew’s cutter makes a move to the end zone, pointing and raising his hand. Clearly Ego has no idea who Mahowald is and neither does Dusty Becker who throws the big looping backhand. Andrew easily cleans up with a sky D which the Ego player makes no attempt to catch. Mahowald immediately finds Muffin and Shane takes off deep. Dusty Becker sees Shane start to sprint deep and jumps in his path to try to body him away. Shane is almost to full stride and hits him like a steamroller, flipping Becker into a flip midair. Becker freaks out and calls a foul as he picks himself up off the field. Shane is in disbelief and mimics the jump during an argument in which Shane literally “talks down” to the shorter Becker who seems really upset. Since it was kind of Ego’s fault for literally trying to take a charge into the running lane of a cutting player, it was just weird. Shane quickly gets a full speed one handed sliding under cut out of rage and hits Doede. As the handling core moves the disc, Animal hits Muffin on a swing, who rips a flick deep to Mahowald who just misses the would be brutal sky as the disc tips off his outstretched fingers on the comeback and denying Muffin his nth deep connection. With Oregon back on offense #4 of Ego makes a nice grab in traffic on another lazy Ego throw in the air between Scallet and a late arriving Drewyum. The high release bull shit continues to not work as an Eli high release late foul call makes the double turn D by Shane go back to the thrower. Ego jams the disc up the sideline on a looping forehand and a Shanezilla layout attempt shoulder high just misses as the Ego player snatches the disc. Andrew and Muffin, in the end zone and on the side line call the player out. The observer signals him in but quickly reverses the call when a camera man fortuitously standing there instantly shows the picture of #11 with a foot on the line. Oregon is understandably super pissed as even Seth Wiggins had rushed the field already. Even Animal is walking back the line and giving a handshake to Eli about the foul call. There was a lot of excitement, arguing and chest bumping, but with undeniable evidence that the Ego player was out-of-bounds, it is ruled a turnover as Heijmen attempts to damage control as much as possible. But the damage has already been done, with Kevin Riley single-handedly costing Wisconsin the Triple Crown Title by losing his cool and bench pressing marks. Riley was fighting, bickering and even barking at players during the argument as Wisconsin players were shaking their heads in disgust. Kevin was so instrumental in Madison’s demise that he was the first to view the controversial photo on the sideline call. It would be a crucial ruling because that would have tightened the game to 9-6. Instead Wisconsin would waste no time as Muffin hucked the disc from the cone deep to Mahowald with steps on his defender before easily finding Shane for the break 10-5. That must have been the dagger in the heart and that would literally be all that the Oregon studs could withstand of the Defense running the Ego offense into the ground. On the next possession when guarding Doede, the most stubborn Hodag when it comes to pain and brutalizing his body on the field, Oregon’s Eli Janin would feel the affects of dehydration and probably heat exhaustion on the weekend as he would call an injury, falling to his knees and puking on the field. The crowd’s simultaneous sound effects of groans and screams could be heard a little louder with each splatter of liquid as 3-4 explosions made for a very comical scene. Heijmen would trot onto the field to pour water in the area and throw some grass there as the game continued in the midst of a Hodag run. Tim Pearce would nab a foot block and almost get the double happiness as the Tom Annen huck to space was not deep enough. Tim would quickly hit Gaynor for the goal 11-5. Eli would see the impact of Wisconsin’s destructive D line as he would chug an entire orange Gatorade before getting back into the game the next point. However, for Madison it would be a free-for-all to get in the game as Kevin Riley would play some defense and get another foot block allowing Wisconsin to move it easily until Heijmen found the pumped up Jimmy Foster 12-5. With Wisconsin on defense again, a deep huck that Miller does not catch up thoroughly enrages Q-Tip who puts on a nasty mark before an Ego missed throw in the end zone. However, a stall count violation by Animal on the goal line gives Oregon a perfect opportunity on the goal line. A Tim Pearce hand-block is called a foul and Becker tracks the disc on the break side to punch it in for a flat backhand break and sliding score 12-6. The Wisconsin O is back on the field and Ego gets a turn on a short huck by Miller allowing #34 to get an end zone layout D. At this point, the O-face begins to daydream and sing Seal’s “Kissed by a Rose” under their breath and lose focus as Ego is able to maneuver the disc across the field and jack it deep through Jack’s outstretched hands for the upwind goal and break 12-7. The D line just sits in the tent and eats watermelon, shaking their heads. “They must want to play a couple of more points, right?” asks Will. The O-face is pissed after letting off the second break of the game and on their way to the worst performance of the tournament. The Defense is only somewhat concerned as Foster gets an under cut and finds Heijmen who continues to Marsh. The blade flick down the sideline by Darsh is hauled in by Foster on an awesome layout catch which is unceremoniously flip spiked over the shoulder, which now totes a Hodag tattoo for the 13-7 lead. Shane would get his 6th D of the tournament, but Ego would be finding a groove and getting on the board 13-8. The O would take no chances with Oregon as they methodically worked the disc until Marsh found Heijmen for the score 14-8. With the game almost over, the D line put on cruise control and the O would have to finish things with Rebholz hitting Foster for the 15-9 win. The D line would blame the O-face for the point differential, but the only thing that mattered was Wisconsin finding itself in semifinals for the second straight year. English major Dan Heijmen would have lots to say after this win, “We came out hard, like we’ve done every game and turnovers have just been huge lift for us. Those leads fire us up, and we certainly feed off our defense. It lets our offense relax, knowing that if we do go out there we can just be loose, and not worry about making a mistake.” The score of 15-9 would be the closest of the College Championship Series since Whitewater and Marquette both putting up 10 on Wisco at Regionals.
Wisconsin would wrap the game up relatively early and have the chance to check out Florida versus Carleton on the next field. Florida would take a large lead like 8-3, but the momentum swung back to CUT as the game came down to the wire around 12-10. On a series of calls and Goldstein D’s Carleton would break after trading to bring the game even 14-14. However, Florida would hold easily upwind against CUT’s junk zone and layout D the hitch on the next point to punch in the game winning goal 16-14 and pushing Florida to its limits. Carleton had a rough weekend losing to Georgia 14-16, Stanford 17-16 and now Florida 16-14. In the other quarterfinal games Colorado would handle Georgia easily this year, unlike the battle to the death last year in which Georgia upset Mamabird in quarterfinals. Jojah would fail to have that psycho and that crazy to score the breaks when they mattered and unachieved all year after busting into semifinals like gang busters in 2006. Their underachieving definitely hurt Tunnell’s stranglehold on the Callahan title, which has been rumored to be Dylan’s since his Paideia years. Stanford was a clear lock for semifinals because it would be their 4th straight appearance there, while Texas would bow out in quarterfinals for at least the 4th straight year.
The round of semifinals snuck up quickly as Wisconsin began to refuel for the toughest game of the weekend. The #4 seeded Stanford would be a tough challenge as they would play extremely hard. As Hodags saw the crowd size grow and the warm up drills began, the D line made a pact to dominate the game and not let the O-face get on the field that often, because they would try to ruin everything. As Wisconsin ran box drill, Stanford ran break mark drill, as Wisconsin ran Seattle as did Stanford and the playing styles would be eerily similar on offense with both teams utilizing the width of the field with long swings and patience until the right deep shot opened up. Madison would look not that sweet in Seattle as Muffin looked even worse practicing pulls, turning over deep shots in the stiffening wind and landing them in Florida’s Seattle drill. A moment later Wisconsin was being pulled to the sideline for the last minute team huddle. The biggest game of the year would be starting and the nerves could be sensed in the air as the Wisconsin Defense took the field, pulling upwind. With Evan Klane pulling a hamstring earlier on Saturday, Muffin would be taking almost all of the pulls and showing his range in both directions. Heijmen would offer no magical words for success, but only reiterate Scallet’s emphasis of playing with our legs and our hearts. If we run harder and faster like Wisconsin has all weekend, Stanford will fall to our intensity. However, Stanford would be the one team all weekend who could match the Hodags intensity and legs on the field, playing their absolute hardest on every point and never giving up. They would make Wisconsin earn every pass and this game would be highly contested. Stanford would also be the most intelligent team Wisconsin would play on the weekend with a game plan that included caveats for most of Wisconsin’s stud players. As the game began, Stanford was wisely patient and worked the disc with accurate breaks and swings as the Hodags forced backhand. It would take several minutes for Wisconsin to get a turnover and Bloodthirsty was ready. They were playing super physical on the handlers reset cuts and playing a reverse sling blade to make dumps nearly impossible. Stanford would also be backing big time cutters like Mahowald and Shane in the downfield, knowing those man studs would go deep and sky if given the opportunity. They also gave Muffin a super hard straight-up to backhand force at all times, trying to limit Malecek’s deep shots. Their adjustments would make Wisconsin work harder for the deep game as Wisco managed to move the disc to midfield as Andrew Mahowald was being given easy under cuts by Cahill. However, Bloodthirsty ran out of defensive maneuvers for Animal as Tom ripped his flick upwind to a deep cutting Lokke open in space. Zip-Loke beats his man to the spot and skies for the break 1-0 Wisconsin. The Hodag sideline exploded with excitement and cheers as Wisconsin would take early control of the game. The Defense would now be pulling downwind and putting all of the focus on Stanford’s star power of Cahill, Sherwood, and Chen – trying to prevent hucks to and from these players. Again Stanford would be unbelievably patient with the disc and not force any risky throw as they methodically worked the disc up field. Nan Gao was having a dominant game with the throw ‘n go strategy as Stanford scored upwind and tied the game 1-1. For the first time on the weekend, things would not go entirely Wisconsin’s way early on as Stanford would break the O-face for the 1-2 lead and provide a daunting challenge for the Hodags. As Wisconsin had talked about in the team meeting the night before, when things were not going Madison’s way – it was not a time to get pissed and freak out just yet. It would take a full team effort to beat Stanford and if the finals game at Centex was any indication of how the game would go – as Wisconsin would take half 8-7 on a break after playing a pretty lackluster first half along with Stanford’s dominant first half. The Hodags would take a deep breath and encourage the O-face to come through huge and score to keep Madison in the game. With the wind at Wisconsin’s back, the O line was patient and efficient with Rebholz taking in-cuts before Dan Miller went midrange deep flick to Jimmy Foster for the score 2-2. As the O-face made a clutch score, an incensed D line took the field. There was only a murmur of what needed to be done because every defender on the field already knew; play extremely hard and get a turnover. Wisconsin would only get 10 D’s in the game and every single possession would be a critical one in such an intensely contested game. As the Stanford offense took the field and ran their vertical stack, they patiently worked the disc down the entire field on the backhand force all the way to within 2 yards of Wisconsin’s goal line with Cahill and Newman doing most of the damage. At this point, the Wisconsin defensive pressure and intensity becomes unbelievable. If one more up-field pass is completed Stanford will score, so the Hodags get a little crazy and begin to front all players and play oppressive pressure defense, allowing no open side under cuts and pushing Bloodthirsty backward. Stanford is still working the disc just feet from the goal line but cannot find an open player to score the goal. With only the break side and dump lanes becoming options, Bloodthirsty is losing ground. The Wisconsin pressure is starting to weigh on Stanford as he each dump loses more yards and 15 passes later, Bloodthirsty has been driven back to nearly midfield. The Stanford cutters began to stall and become timid against Wisconsin’s intensity and many times the only open player is behind the disc. On the 16th pass after almost scoring a force side throw goes up to Shane’s cutter. Hohenstein is bearing down and makes an awesome layout D, knocking the disc 5 yards out of bounds. Muffin takes the disc on the sideline and looks to swing it to the middle, but soon remembers how easy Animal made his upwind flick look moments earlier. After several seconds, Muffin’s mark shifts assuming the swing is coming, but Malecek employs the shoulder jerk and rips a flick up the sideline to a wide open Will Lokke who is on the break side. Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition and running with trampolines under his feet, Lokke skies against no defender for the goal and break 3-2. William looks around, and flings the disc over his shoulder for the nonchalant spike making it look easy. Stanford would quickly realize that Muffin has no respect for any mark and that he his deep game would be stopped or contained. Cahill would be forced to jog back to the line, with a face full of disgust for the break mark huck. After this extremely long point, Wisconsin went to its depth and put in several O line players anticipating that the Defense would take the rest of the points in the game. It was a bold move but Stanford is able to hold upwind as their stars begin to assert themselves. Will Chen is flinging O2 passes all over the place and Cahill is getting the disc almost at will as Nan Gao begins his domination of K-Fed in the backfield, getting an O2 to space and putting up some float to Cahill in the back corner of the end zone. A J-Fo layout attempt comes up just short as Robbie snatches the disc near the back line for the score 3-3. With a seemingly tight game ensuing, the Wisconsin Defense has a quick huddle as the O-face takes the field. Animal mumbles something about playing smarter and Scallet jabs his finger into the eyeballs of Doede and Gaynor to get those hoodlums more fired up. But now the Defense has to wait and see if the confident O-face can handle the power of Stanford’s backfield pressure. Matt Rebholz gets an O2 up the line from Heijmen and goes for the break force backhand ripper deep to Miller. The Rebel Rousa is hacked on the throw, which turns over in the stiff wind and rides all the way to the opposite sideline before Q-Tip just misses the trailing disc out of bounds. The disc comes back and Rebholz is unable to reset the disc quickly to either Marsh or Riley on the reverse sling blade defense and Matt is forced to punt his forehand deep on the high stall count. The Dan’s are patrolling the deep area and Miller skies for the disc in a crowd of Newman and a closing Sherwood only to tip mack the disc into the air over both defenders. The tip allows Heijmen to swoop in to clean up the trash on a leg flailing clap catch and goal 4-3. Wisconsin continues to rush the field and show just a little more emotion than Bloodthirsty. At this point Muffin decides to transform into a biomechanical destroying machine and plays 9 of the next 10 points and 12 of the last 14. It could just be a coincidence, but Wisconsin begins to pull away as switching forces begins to pay dividends. The Stanford offense is again going upwind and this time abusing the break side with flat swings and gainers on the around throw. The disc is moving quickly from side to side as Doede is dogging Sherwood all over the field, as Mark makes an acrobatic layout to a disc thrown behind him to keep possession. Animal continues to get broken by Will Chen before the Hodags begin to anticipate the around throws as Mahowald and Hohenstein go into overdrive. Drewyum uses his height and reach to make several attempts at a hand block, stopping the first around and open side cuts by getting into the lane. On the second around pivot, Skywalker bids on the mark at the break throw. Shane is guarding Cahill on the open side and out of his peripheral, he sees Andrew make a bid on the break side backhand. Shane focuses in on his power animal and takes three thunderous steps before getting fully horizontal and getting his second huge layout D of the game, smashing into Cahill. The Hodag sideline is in a frenzy as Wisconsin has a short field going downwind and Shane looks like a intimidating man hulk with smeared eye black and a sleek looking headband. Will Chen makes a sweet bid on the O2 pass to Animal and gets the D before a foul call brings it back. Handlers’ Scallet, Animal, and Muffin move the disc quickly until Drewyum gets an in-cut on the sideline. Several contested foul calls and stall violations later and a timeout by Andrew puts the disc in on stall 8 on a scag mark. Madison has only two options for this situation, hit Muffin on the flat break for the reset or float it the back corner to Hohenstein. There is some slight confusion as to when the disc actually came into play and with no one moving, Drew is forced to put a stall 9 high release flick break across field to Shane. CheeseSlut is in good position and goes up strong for the one handed sky in traffic for the break goal 5-3. Shane immediately sprints to the middle of the end zone, giving the disc a solid head-spike, smacking loudly before being given several shoves and screams of encouragement by Winona buddy Q-Tip, getting all up in Shane’s face. The energy is now pulsating from the Wisconsin sideline as the momentum has swung to the Hodags favor. Wisconsin is pulling upwind again and decides to give Stanford a little junk zone and switching forces to change things up. Cahill and Sherwood continue to dominate the touches before the confusing defense works to Wisconsin’s advantage as a Chen throw up-field is just a little high and wide for the turnover. Bonkers makes a nice O2 move and gives the goat to Muffin who is being given a ridiculous straight up force by now. Muffin cannot put it deep to Seth because Sherwood is poaching into the throwing lane and Malecek soon finds Scallet on the O2 power move. Scallet looks deep from the get go and puts a beautiful chilly backhand to the streaking Seth Meyer. Seth goes up a little early as Lokke appears out of nowhere with his eyes all over the disc. However, the Lokkness is also not able to track down the disc as Will makes a super sweet layout bid that just misses the disc. After the crash landing Lokke can only clench his Supergrip 2000 fists together and ask for a system reboot. Chen swings to Sherwood who immediately steps out and rips a deep backhand deep into double coverage before Cahill is able to outrun everyone to the spot for the would be huge downwind hold. Cahill is super pumped, but a travel is called as Sherwood turned over his pivot on the huck and the first argument ensues before the observer agrees with the travel. Almost immediately Sherwood pivots into Scallet and throws a flick break across field to which Gaynor jumps the lane for the catch D in the middle of two Bloodthirsty. Sherwood makes a late foul call and the second argument explodes about the timing of the phantom foul call and original throw. Wisconsin’s arguing is superior in this instance as it is ruled no foul and Babyface takes possession on the Stanford goal line. As the disc is tapped in, Gaynor is immediately blasted with chest to chest contact by a Stanford mark, but Gaynor is able to shake it off and quickly reset the disc to Scallet and Schmit as Wisconsin pushes for the break. The disc eventually finds Muffin who hits a wide open Lokke with a flat break in the middle of the end zone for the score and lead now 6-3. Stanford is dismayed by the turn of events but their intensity on the field does not show it as Bloodthirsty digs deeper and plays just as hard, not giving an inch. Wisconsin is pulling downwind as Malecek shows off a 93-yard bomb of an inside-out backhand pull that lands in the back middle of the end zone. Stanford is still being patient, moving the disc with short throws between Chen and Gao. Mahowald has an opportunity to make a bid on a Sherwood in-cut, but chooses to keep the force and make Stanford prove they can work it the whole field. An O2 cut by Cahill keeps the disc moving before a Shane foul on the mark. Wisconsin is now forcing straight flick into the teeth of the stiff wind and Stanford finally obliges with a deep huck that is sky D’d by Q-Tip with Heijmen coming in late for the help. Captains Heijmen and Rebholz keep the disc moving for Wisconsin before Muffin keeps the pressure on Stanford as Malecek fires a deep backhand huck looking for Miller on the would be double happiness, but a slight misread gives Bloodthirsty the chance to step in and knock down the pass. Stanford now looks for the transition as Jim Foster makes a layout bid to stop the break on the mark. Sherwood is all over the field and throws the break swing to Chen on the sideline. Chen goes for the flat break flick up the line, but Shanetacular comes out of nowhere for his third layout D of the first half, face sliding several yards out of bounds even with all of the power of his body thrust. The Wisconsin crowd is now chanting Shane as Heijmen picks up the disc and moves it to Muffin as Andrew is pointing towards the corner of the end zone. Malecek wisely chills it out seeing that Sherwood was ready to jump the S cut and keeps the disc moving to Miller and then to Rebholz on the continue. Stanford’s defense on the goal line is stout enough to force several resets as the break swing comes back to Malecek in the middle of the field. Muffin has only eyes for the end zone and whips a low release backhand break to Mahowald streaking across the end zone as Sherwood is poaching the open side lane. Skywalker can only fling the disc over his shoulder as Wisconsin rushes the field after the break now up 7-3. Feldman’s smile is the biggest of the season and even Jesse has a spring in his step now with the commanding advantage. At this point Muffin would be “heating up” after his second straight assist and one more completed goal would put Malecek “On Fire!” Wisconsin would be pulling upwind for half and Jon Gaynor would continue to make an impact. Gaynor would snatch his second D of the game and give Wisconsin another break opportunity. Muffin would waste little time, bombing a huge forehand to Lokke for the goal 8-3 and his third straight assist.
Wisconsin would celebrate their domination during half by refueling and chatting with fans. Heijmen would be ecstatic during the team huddle and only give words of encouragement for how awesome we are playing. There is little more to say because the Hodags are playing out of their minds. Shane is literally dominating the game and Stanford should stop throwing to the man he is guarding. In one instance on the sideline, Mrs. Heijmen comes up to Shane after his third super nasty layout D and with a face of total seriousness says, “Shane – you are on fire.” Shane, not breaking the gaze looks Hillary right in the eye and without so much as a smirk with a stone cold face says, “You can’t fuck with the Hodags.” That is hilariously over the top and proves that Wisconsin’s focus is almost unflappable. However, then the Georgia players begin to really heckle. The Jojah players are done for the tournament after losing to Mamabird in quarterfinals and are determined to give Wisconsin the business end of the heckling stick. They begin to take notice of Muffin’s supremacy and refusal to leave the field after his 4th straight assist in 4 straight points out of half. The plan to get in Malecek’s head is even better than Carleton’s regional antics of calling him Brandon. They begin to yell “Flip, flop, flip, flop” for every step that Muffin takes. They continue for almost an entire point even accounting for the pivoting with flip, flip, flip, flip. The assault would persist for so long that even Heijmen had to stop walking at one point just to make sure he was not on the losing end of the cheers. It would only be just revenge for the heckling job Wisconsin put on Georgia last year in semifinals with the Heijmen brothers and Jon Schutkin saying all sorts of inappropriate jeers. Kevin Riley would be one of the firsts to catch on and tell those knuckleheads to cut it out, trying to protect his roommate Muffin. However, this would only provoke the wrath of Jojah into yelling louder and beginning to bag on K-Fed. Sssseeeeeevvvven KEVIN! Sssseeeeevvven KEVIN! However, Bucket loves to be the center of attention and might have even played better at times with the added encouragement of yelling his name and number. Furthermore, Georgia would also make one fatal heckling mistake as one player yells, “Hey number 7, why aren’t you on the field?” Kevin turns and yells, “Why aren’t YOU on the field?” gesturing towards the entire Jojah crew. It was a spring-loaded taunt and Jojah continued to give Kevin the business whenever it looked likely that he could mess up. Georgia would the eventual winners of the Spirit Award but not before attempting to steal a case of red bull from the Wisconsin sideline as to which Kevin Riley’s dad is forced to chase down over 3 fields away to get back as Jojah denied stealing the entire way.
Wisconsin was riding the wave of emotion and started the second half on offense. The Hodags would take notice of the other semifinal game and see Florida looking very tired during their halftime as they sat in the shade while Colorado was practicing straight blades in a giant game of cower. Madison would not think too much of it as they prepared to finish one more half and return to the biggest stage of college ultimate. The O-face came out hot as the Rebel Rousa finds Dan Heijmen for their second connection of the game for the score and 9-3 lead. The Defense takes the field again and Drew Mahowald gets a D allowing Muffin to hit Scadalac in the short game for the break now 10-3. By now Wisconsin is looking to step on the throat and finish this game. Stanford is starting to give up the disc more freely and Muffin wastes no time, ripping a full field huck to Miller that falls just short of the goal line and denying Muffin his 5th straight assist. Q-Tip easily finds Heijmen for the break and 11-3. Stanford calls a timeout and Wisconsin parties like a rockstar in the huddle because that is the 6th defensive break in a row if you do not count the O point out of half. That means the Hodags have earned an OATBAG in semifinals along with scoring 8 straight points and that makes even Heijmen scream like a child in the Hodag huddle. There is no more need to chug red bulls, but Muffin and Shane decide to get it done anyway to celebrate the occasion. However, Stanford is not done and begins to connect with their deep game, holding on offense 11-4. At this point Wisconsin peeks at the score of the other semifinal to find it 12-10, in a quick and high scoring affair. It must be a testament to how solid Wisconsin and Stanford’s defenses are to make for such marathon points. However, the O-face focuses in and scores as Kevin Riley finds Jack Marsh for the goal 12-4, but Stanford is still playing their absolute hardest. Bloodthirsty holds on offense to make the game 12-5 as Sherwood is playing the game of his life and performing out of his mind all game. The strategery is beginning to fade as both teams begin to battle it out to the end. Wisconsin is again on Offense and going downwind. Dan Miller swings the disc to Jack and gets the pass back on the sideline. Knowing no fear with that bleach blond hair, Q-Tip puts up a lazy deep forehand to Heijmen. It floats a little too much at the end, allowing Sherwood to make up the ground and get the deep D in the air on Callahan contender Dan Heijmen. Sherwood moves the disc with some high release flick action before it swings back across field to the dude with the pants on under his shorts who makes a nice sky catch before getting ruthlessly footblock fouled by Animal. Gao is roasting Riley at every opportunity and breaking him with a nice O2 pass to Sherwood before getting the reset back. Mark Sherwood takes off deep just after the dump and Nan flings the deep huck to space allowing Sherwood to just sky Heijmen for the break 12-6 and double happiness on Heyman. The fun and games ended right there with some Callahan-on-Callahan nominee violence going down. The Hodags are on O again, this time going upwind. This time it remains really chilly with the disc moving across the field to wide-open cutters. Riley and Rebholz both break the mark at will as the disc moves quickly to Muffin and then Miller. Jack Marsh makes an in-cut as a flying bid by Chen can only scrape the disc in Darsh’s hands. Jack quickly sticks out his tongue at Chen before faking the high release flick over the shoulder before actually throwing the high release flick in Chen’s eye to Riley O2 for the windmill spike 13-6. The Defense would decide that the O-face had gotten enough action on the day and the last two points would be cutthroat. This time another huge pull by Muffin and zone defense by Wisconsin slows down Stanford. Wisconsin transitions to man and makes Stanford become very patient with the disc and cross field swings. A big flick fake and break mark deep inside out backhand throw by Nan Gao is just missed by Pop Tarts who makes a layout attempt on the mark. The throw is to space as Andrew is tailing it the whole way. As the Stanford receiver is about to come in from the side for the catch, Drew makes the last second layout for the smack D only to get brutally collision’ed and the wind knocked out of him. Drew takes an injury sub and the disc is laying at least 15 yards deep in the end zone. After announcing the disc was in play, Muffin yells, “Shane!” Malecek has done this probably 15 times during the year and Shane has heard none of them, only to discuss it later on the sideline as to why Muffnuts hucked it to nobody downfield. This time Shane heard it and took off immediately deep. Muffin jumped to the disc and tapped it in play 15 yards deep in the end zone. Cahill is waiting on the goal line for the disc to be walked up but the moment he realizes what is happening, he takes 3 huge steps to the flick side and jumps. It was too late as Muffin releases his biggest throw ever in a college game for the wicked 90 yard forehand flick end zone to end zone to hit Shane perfectly in stride 5 yards deep for the 1 pass break 14-6. As Muffin flexed the guns and celebrated the biggest throw in college history, even bigger than Tyson’s 80 flick monster to Joey D in 2003 national finals. Everyone was impressed, but Muffin knew it had to be done. The UVTV clip can only catch the catch by Shane because Rob is never ready for the immediate huck and neither was Stanford. Shane fakes the head spike and Stanford defenders stand motionless in disbelief of the immaculate throw. Muffin and Rebholz mimic loading the cannons while Shane can only chest bump Spainzilla bash brother Lokke on the nice play. On the ensuing D point, Stanford’s Chen rifles a deep shot to Newman who just misses the disc on a late attempt. As Muffin jogged down the field to grab the disc on the cone, Seth Wiggins yells, “I bet you can’t do that upwind.” Malecek smirks and gets the disc to the line as fast as possible. Instead of looking to reset the disc off the line, Muffin goes for the glory shot, ripping one more monster flick upwind with a low release on the straight up mark. Two Wisconsin cutters are waiting for the disc deep as they had both expected Muffin to just launch it. Madison native Doug Allen is racing down the deep huck and makes a spectacular layout attempt, just missing the disc at 5 feet horizontal in the air. Seth catches the disc almost at waist level with a smile almost rivaling Ben’s as he throws an easy backhand to space for Feldman to clap spike over the head 15-6. The fans would explode and Wisconsin would even get the chance to sing the Wisconsin fight song “Varsity” with the Pimpdags, fans, and alumni.
Wisconsin would earn one more game and a place in the championship game for the second straight year. The score is deceptive because Stanford played the hardest of any team all weekend, making Wisconsin earn every throw. There would be little poaching because every cutter was clearing hard and selling every cut. Stanford was not intimidated, but just wasn’t deep enough to hang with the Hodags for the entire game. Rebholz and Heijmen give a big huge near midfield because Wisconsin is returning to National Finals. Ultivillage’s coverage of the games was awesome and Rob’s footage is absolutely incredible for any player or fan wanting to see the action. Rob also manages to grab Heijmen for the after the game interview with UVTV which is pretty sweet as they discuss how this was not the typical game for Wisconsin at Nationals, as the Hodags did not take a big lead and were even down 1-2. Heijmen was sure to mention Muffin getting aggressive and bombing it deep along with the Defense carrying the team. Dan also spoke of Shane being fucking ridiculous, exploding this year, leading the team in D’s, and becoming an emotional leader as well as being a great teammate. Heijmen also cited the depth of Wisconsin as the reason the Hodags can keep the intensity as such a high level all game and was even modest when questioned about the Callahan. Dan says something along the lines of being maybe the 5th best player on the field and “if anything, my team will win the Callahan for me.” But don’t let the man fool you because Heijmen went an unprecedented +16 in quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals and +25 on the weekend. Dan has zero turns on the weekend and was a baller everytime Wisconsin needed him. Andrew Mahowald went +13 in quarters, semis, and finals and Muffin went at least +9, throwing 6 breaks in semifinals, including the biggest forehand bomb ever seen in college sports. On the weekend Lokke went +11, Foster and Miller both managed a nice +12, Shane at +13, but Jack Marsh went +15. Pretty good right?
Now that Wisconsin had qualified for the championship game it would time to take care of the bodies as the Hodags forced the team into a cool down jog, buddy stretching, and Endurox sampling again. The alumni could not help but be psyched as they prepared for a big night of celebrating. The next step was to grab some food at the fields and get a seat for the Alumni Showcase game, Callahan presentation, and longest pull competition. Dan Heijmen is also pulled away for some last minute interviewing by CSTV and the UPA. “One of the strengths of our team is our depth – the fact that we can put seven guys out there, and it doesn’t matter who. Every single player has played in every game so far – it’s a testament to how hard everybody’s worked. Just the fact that everybody is so good, it keeps everybody energized because everybody gets to play a lot.” Dan would also say that Wisconsin is confident going into Sunday and believes that as long as the Hodags play their hardest, they will not be stopped. Repeating what Scallet was preached most of the tournament, Dan continued, “We’ve always answered the call, no matter if we were even, whether we were down, no matter if we were up by a bunch, we always play with the same amount of intensity. I expect the game to be close. Colorado’s an amazing team with a lot of athletes. We’re going to play to win, we’re going to try hard, and regardless of what the score is we’re going to play until the final goal is scored” (UPA.)
As the Wisconsin player’s flirt with girlfriends, parents, and fans – Wisconsin must decide whom to enter in the fastest man and longest pull. Feldman was going to participate until he learned that the last race would be in between the finals games on Sunday. However, Muffin would need to warm up his deep throws before finals anyway so Malecek put his name on the list. As the crowd gathered and the announcer began reading off names players began ripping their biggest throws. The throwers joke about trying to land it in the fountain of water past the end of the field. It was fun and games until Newman from Stanford pretty much landed one in the water hazard. Malecek grabs his cleats last minute and puts the first throw about 85 yards with 8+ seconds in the air. Nearby Hodags jeer Muffin for not being able to throw a pull like that all tournament. However, the competition is farthest throw not nicest pull, so Muffin is forced to rip off his shirt and do some calisthenics for his second attempt. Malecek refuses to show the flick at this point and cannot get into the final pairing with a backhand. As it would turn out, Newman would win the deepest pull and fastest man on Sunday. Next was the Callahan presentation. There would be lots of anticipation as a preview of the player was read before the name was announced. 5th place would go to Beaufort and was easily guessable as they talked about his incredible physical prowess, speed on the field, and game changing presence. Cahill takes 4th and his biography also makes him an easy player to predict. At this point, Wisconsin is not sure where Dan will land within the big 3. However, Kurt Gibson takes 3rd and it is no surprise when they talk about him doing everything on the field. The next preview talks about a candidate who makes the players around him better and leading a team. The entire description sounds exactly like Dan, until they say, runner-up place goes to University of Georgia Dylan Tunnell. Wisconsin is wide with smiles as few actually believed Dan had a chance. Heijmen would not know what to do with himself, forgetting the picture and trying to give the huge trophy to his team. It would an incredible and unforgettable weekend for Calladan Heijmen, as his toddler nephew was wearing a baggy shirt that had Heijmen’s face upon saying, “Dan is my hero.” Heijmen would take pictures and be overwhelmed by the publicity, as Wisconsin would simply celebrate their 5th year captain. Furthermore, Holly Greunke of Belladonna would take 2nd place in the women’s voting – a testament to how good both Wisconsin programs have become. As the showcase game began, Wisconsin would cheer Tripoli Tripoli Tripoli, Ted Ted Ted until the West would finally huck it to Ted. The Hodags would not catch the entire showcase game, as Wisconsin would need to prepare for Sunday. Colorado would not even stick around for the presentation of Callahan or showcase game – probably because they had their eyes on the prize and a coach to direct them home.
The Hodags would choose to go downtown Columbus to find more food before the team meeting. Many of us end up at Eddie George’s Bar and Grill. Apparently Eddie George thought it would be a good idea to put a two-way mirror above the urinals in the bathroom so you could see into the bar while your peeing to watch TV or check out hot girls. It is hilarious and as player by player goes to pee, the rest of the team sneaks around and pretends to pick our teeth/noses or pretend to look through the mirror to watch the guy peeing. It was extremely funny.
When the team gets back to the hotel for the pre-finals team meeting it is already pretty late. Unlike last year when Wisconsin went to the stadium location for the final and had the team meeting, the Hodags kept it in the hotel. Wisconsin would be sure to take lessons from last year’s game where the night before Madison would not talk about a game plan or anything but talking about what Hodag Love meant to them. Wisconsin came in overconfident and paid the price on the field. This year Muffin would show a picture that has been in his room for half a year. A picture of Florida rushing the field after winning nationals as Heijmen and Malecek walked off the field with their heads hung and hands on their knees. Malecek pounded in the thought of how it would feel to lose tomorrow. It was stressed to not take anything for granted until the final point was scored. Wisconsin expected to win and with only one game left in the season either way, enjoy it. This time, the businessmen of Marriott were used to hearing us yell Hodag Love and were no longer bothered by it as the Hodags screamed it as loud as possible.
Wisconsin took their time in the morning, getting up early and planning a Bob Evans breakfast together. As we eat it begins to storm and downpour outside as trees were seriously whipping in the wind. Wisconsin’s handlers aren’t too excited about these kind of game conditions, but Feldman reports that it is dry at the stadium. The playlist for pump up songs on the ride to the game has finally been perfected for the weekend as JT’s “What Goes Around Comes Back Around” dominates the stereo. When Wisconsin arrives to the stadium and heads around back to warm up, it is completely sunny, hot, and very windy. The crosswind was tenacious as the woman’s final was playing out and the game start was even delayed to the time cap of the first game. Throwing without the disc turning over became brutal and each Wisconsin player had his style of warm-up before being ready to play. The stretching circle was as loose as always with players making all sorts of disgusting jokes or inappropriate stories to keep everyone relaxed and chill. The alumni and coolers of drinks arrive just in time for the Wisconsin break-mark attack drill to look truly morbid. As we climb over a fence into the stadium, Jim Foster is sure to tear his brand new Patagonia shorts on the fence line. Wisconsin notices a full crowd and a very large section of baby blue spectators in the middle, hoping to drown out any heckling aimed at Wisconsin. There is anticipation in the air as Wisconsin begins end zone possessions and almost runs into the cameraman sitting in the middle of the field. Heijmen almost snaps on this poor guy before a hospital pass swing goes up allowing Kevin Riley to piledrive Andrew Mahowald in a 4 person air battle royal as Drew lands safely on Kevin’s midsection, taking in all of impact. Wanting no more pre-game injuries, Wisconsin plays it cool until it is time for last minute end zone Seattle drill. The Hodags appear to have lost their heads as the crowd is delighted to count the number of passes Wisconsin can complete, which is less than 3 for nearly 10 minutes. However, Madison does find a groove and finally completes 30 in a row to build up some much-needed energy. Wisconsin brings it in for a last minute huddle, but that is also thwarted by player announcements and the announcer is at #4 Matt Rebholz before anyone realizes it. Normally that would be unnerving, but Wisconsin was prepared for just about anything this year.
National Finals Sunday May 27, 2007
Wisconsin stressed bringing the pressure and intensity and playing to have fun. It was the biggest game of the year and it was time to forget the excuses and play like a champion. Wisconsin’s Defense would start the game and Doede was appalled to learn that Miller was given the “starting nod” during announcements despite playing Offense on the day. The D line would look intimidating with 4 headbands outnumbering the 3 hats.
Muffin is set to pull, as the crosswind is deceiving and not nearly as strong as behind the stadium in warm-ups. However, Malecek plays it safe and puts a forehand roller out the sideline and goes into man defense. Jolian Dahl wastes no time and the first throw is a deep flick from the cone deep to Beaufort. Colorado obviously wants to get their Kittredge involved early, but the strong wind allows the disc to hang before a Mahowald and Beau get tangled up in the jump. The foul call is ruled no foul from the observer and Muffin picks up the disc. Looking straight to the end zone and 3 pivots later, Muffin unleashes huge 50-yard break-mark flick deep to Lokke who gobbles it up just short of the goal line. The stall reaches over 6 before Skywalker works his way down the field and cuts straight across the goal line for a flat break and spike over the shoulder for the 1-0 break. Wisconsin looks like a freak on a leash with the amount of intensity that exploded onto the field from the sideline with chest bumps and high fives coming from every which direction. Wisconsin wanted that early lead and felt like any less pressure on the O-face would help the team put it together down the stretch when the points became exponentially more important. As Wisconsin set to pull upwind, Muffin goes back to the deep flick roller, which sweeps out of bounds upon hitting the ground. Again Jolian brings the disc in at the cone and Wisconsin is in a full 4-man cup zone. Dahl wants nothing but the big one and rips another huge inside out backhand right through Animal’s wingspan. Mahowald has better position this time, but a late wind gust pushes it over his head and allows Beaufort to move in and clean up the disc near the goal line before throwing the goal to Mac Taylor 1-1. Colorado is now pulling upwind, but sends a rifle shot down the sideline that does not turn over back in bounds, allowing Wisconsin to take the disc closer than midfield. It would be short work with Rebholz hitting Foster before Riley and Rebholz abuse the O2 moves and score quickly 2-1 on only 4 passes. With the Wisconsin Defense back on the field, devastation is sure to follow. Muffin lands the pull in the other corner of the end zone and Jolian is again given the hitch throw. On the first break throw there is a travel called, which eventually causes a quick dance off imitating the travel move. Moments later a foul call on Jolian continues to slow down Colorado’s offensive possession as Q-Tip almost puts Dahl in the box after their feet get tangled up. Mamabird is unfazed as Beau gets a big gainer up field and resets the disc back to Jolian on a looping forehand. Miller puts on a fantastic mark; laying out on the break side and making Dahl try to hit Kittredge on the open side. However, Skywalker is avidly guarding Kittredge and uses his 4.19 Pro Agility to stay with Beau and get a layout D on the goal line. The disc lands at Muffin’s feet and Hohenstein and flying downfield. Malecek immediately goes for the kill shot, but releases the disc just when Shane decides to come back under, giving the disc right back to Mamabird on a punt. Taylor moves the disc right to Jolian who rips that inside-out backhand deep, giving Beaufort plenty of space to showcase his unmatched speed 2-2, out sprinting 2 deep poaches in the area. Wisconsin was clearly on the mission this weekend, but was being seriously challenged as the Hodag fan base and sideline began to get nervous. The Wisconsin Offense would have to score to keep Wisconsin in the lead. Colorado would come down in a weird type of poachy set, putting Martin Cochran in the lane and putting Beau deep. This would be an interesting strategy because Wisconsin wanted nothing to do with throwing the disc near Beaufort. It had previously been decided not to play with Beau – that is, not to throw anywhere around where Kittredge may roam or exist. If Beau was guarding someone, that someone is coming to the backfield and not getting the disc. It seemed as if Colorado needed to do their homework. They needed a spy to reveal Wisconsin’s tendencies, but Richter must have been too enthralled with Belladonna practice to accurately report what the Hodags like to do on Offense. Hector was living up to his end of the deal and Wisconsin was determined to not give up the disc to the Beaufort Beast of Burden with deep shots, which would allow Colorado to ride their big guns. Wisconsin saw Beau’s statline in semifinals – 4 goals, 5 assists, and 4 D’s, but was formerly aware of his dominance on the field. Therefore, Colorado’s defensive game plan was working straight into Wisconsin’s bread n’ butter which consisted of making 7 good players not turn over the disc. However, the Wisconsin O-face is chilly until a high pass from Animal rises too far above Foster’s head for the turnover. Colorado has a short field and using quick passes, is able to find Kittredge near the cone for the goal past the layout attempt of Jimmy Foster. For the second day in a row, the Wisconsin Offense would get broken early and put the Hodags behind, this time 2-3 as Beau scores his second goal. At the moment the game seemed to be flying past, with quick points and momentum with every play. The Hodag Offense would chill it out and play “move the disc” taking 15 passes before Riley can find Heijmen for the hold 3-3. Heijmen spikes the crap out of the disc and is congratulated by every player on the Hodags, as Wisconsin needed that point. Heijmen was beginning to put his mark on the finals with his first goal and his mentality for the team was leading Wisconsin to put it all on the line. The Defensive pressure and intensity would only increase because the Hodags never feel comfortable playing from behind. Meanwhile Shane is stalking on the line, both forearms up to his elbow bands covered in chalk, looking like the most intimidating defender in all of ultimateland. Heijmen decides to play defense for a point as Riley, Muffin, Doede, Lokke, Mahowald and Shane compile a destructive line. However, Colorado is off the races as they complete several run and gun maneuvers to move the disc to the red zone. A pick call stops play as Jolian and Shane talk it out, but as soon as the disc comes back into play after a violation, Shane is extremely agitated. The next moment when Dahl goes back for the dump, Shanetacular flies over his shoulder for the layout D. Wisconsin plays it chilly as the discs swings and Hohenstein eventually gets the under. CheeseSlut is looks for the dump and throws a swing pass to the mirror cut of Mahowald and Malecek. The ever rising swing pass looks good until Muffin jumps only to shorthand the disc as the high flying Skywalker is spooked by the phantom catch causing Drew to mack the disc further across field. K-fed races after arms swinging, but Muffin has the fastest 2-step and claps the disc just as Mamabird Clark Bishop bids, taking the worst of the hit and deflecting off of Muffin’s chiseled cannons. A glance deep has Heijmen in full sprint pointing to the break side corner as Muffin plants a pivot and jacks a monster as hard IO as possible. The wind was howling at the precise moment and that disc was traveling over 60 mph in a mild blade. Dan Heijmen showcases the stutter step and sticks literally a laser blade upwind for the break and most show stopping play of the weekend – even voted the Discraft Play of the Century. With Wisconsin breaking to 4-3, it would spark the team to showcase everything it had as Heijmen spiked the disc hard. With all of the momentum, Colorado could do nothing but fold, as Beaufort would even come up short. As it would be, Beau was looking the most human Wisconsin had even seen him. Previously, Grant Zukowski and Joey Dumbrow were the only Hodags to get Beau in a sequence, both only on one occasion. But on this day, Beau would need to be pushed to finish a superman performance with a pulled quad from the Friday’s pool play turning his leg black and blue. Despite these issues, the Hodags would continue on Defense looking to capture halftime with a break as they oozed with energy. Calladan Heijmen had just skied the crap out of that bidding Mamabird defender and every Wisconsin player was losing his mind with excitement, and getting on Heyman. Muffin would go the high backhand before the disc would drop 2 feet of out bounds giving Colorado the brick. Mac Taylor walks the disc immediately to the line and rips a huge flick deep to Jolian. Dahl is one step short, but the turn goes back on a marker foul by Seth. Mamabird is quick to move the disc downfield in several throws as a Dahl break to Taylor allows Mac to throw a stall 8 hammer to the back corner as Wisconsin was double poaching Beau on the goal line. The hammer scores it 4-4 as Gonzo pounds the disc into the ground for a huge spike.
Wisconsin Offense would take it in stride and look to hold. Rebholz, Riley and Annen would move the disc and probe against the Mamabird zone. Three straight passes would zip past bidding Colorado defenders as Wisconsin moves the disc to within 5 yards of the end zone. Heijmen would toss a hammer cross field into the teeth of the wind to a wide open Jim Foster for his second assist on his second goal to respond to Colorado’s hammer goal 5-4. J-Fo would get some much-needed love from Tim Pearce as Wisconsin was looking to pull away. The Hodags would come in zone, but pulling the wings back. Colorado took full advantage hitting a short blade and moving the disc quickly, causing Wisco to fall into man defense. Dahl would get to the goal line before finding Rabbit streaking to the cone past K-Fed for the goal 5-5. At this point, Doede is freaking out and Muffin is threatening Dades life if Mamabird scores again. The Defense was getting frustrated as a time-out was called for both teams to talk it out. Heijmen is giving it the Hodags, cheering us on and motivating Madison to win. The Offense comes out firing and dominates the Colorado downfield poaching to gain yards. Heijmen gets the disc to Miller before the handlers need to reset the disc across the field. Finally Animal gets a swing to Rebholz who hits Heijmen for a nice break. With extra time to look, Dan fires a low forehand down the sideline pushing Jack Marsh to layout and snag the disc left handed for the goal 6-5. Jack would show the disc and spike it from his butt as Wisconsin stormed the field with animation. Marsh was being mobbed by his fellow Hodags and Wisconsin could sense the weakness beginning to show in Colorado. Wisconsin went for the “Finish Him!” and put an almost universe line as players were getting fired up actually on the line. Colorado centers to Jolian who goes off running with a high release to Beau that is just too far. The unlucky turnover provides a perfect chance to punish the weak. Lokke is motioning for Wisconsin to chill it out as Muffin lumbers up to the disc. The moment Malecek picks up the disc he fires a blade forehand biting into the crosswind. Lokke is already in full stride and outruns his man to the spot for the brutal break 7-5 giving all defenders no chance at the disc. The throw was so perfect Colorado could do nothing to stop it as Wisconsin finally gained breathing room in the game. Lokke would only do half a victory lap before getting the double fisted high five by Heijmen. The black Hodag Hankies can be seen waving in the stands as Wisconsin spills itself onto the field. Heijmen matches up the line as Kevin Delaney discusses the geometry of throwing physics beakers into a wall. At this point, Mrs. Geppert has started the wave all by herself as she screams for the Hodags. Muffin goes back to the huge flick pull as Wisconsin looks to buckle down. Colorado is able to move the disc, sometimes losing up to 10 yards with each reset. Eventually, the extra passes get sloppy as Chris Doede gets a sweet layout D near midfield. Chris would be running so hard that the disc almost slapped off of his shoulder Doede nailed it so bad. Burkly can only smile as Muffin breaks the disc to Mahowald. Heijmen goes O2 for Drew and quickly hits Lokke. Dan continues to hustle up-field and gets a sweet around O2 pass into the end zone as Lokkness stepped out and hit Heijmen in stride for the break to take half 8-5! Dan grips the disc and shakes it like a Polaroid picture for his third goal of the game before giving it the head spike. Going into half Wisconsin would only have 2 turnovers to Colorado’s 5 and 3 Wisconsin D’s to Mamabird’s zero.
Alumni Brown, Rodrigo and Tripoli are sure to chat it up with the current Hodags during half, giving advice and cheering on. During halftime the Spirit Award is given to Jojah as well as the individual team award winners. As the second half begins with Wisconsin on Offense, Brown is frantically giving Hector the play by play on the cell phone. Jack Marsh would have his serious juke shoes on with some sick pivoting before throwing easy passes back the handlers to cope with Colorado’s poaching deep. Wisconsin would slowly begin to pop the poachy man defense to prod for opportunities to crack it. Miller gets a nice in-cut from Rebholz and rips a backhand into the wind, sailing it past the defender safely into the Jack Marsh’s hands for his second goal 9-5 and killer elbow spike. The HOOOODAGS chant would now be heard loud and clear as Muffin demolishes his best pull 90 yards deep riding the wind into the corner of the end zone. Both Jolian and Beau are forced to play back near the disc with the serious 20 mph cross wind. Soon Beau gets an O2 reset on the break side and continues to Justin Salvia who tries to jump into the end zone, but is 10 yards short because of the second painted line. Mahowald is almost giving the business to Beau with some smothering defense, but Rabbit is able to pivot quickly for the break side throw to Gonzo for the hold 9-6 as Wisconsin can only witness another head spike. Mamabird is running out of options as Kittredge is now pulling forehand. The Wisconsin Offense is looking good, moving the disc very quickly within stall 1 for several straight throws and gaining yards all over the field. Heijmen and Riley are slicing throws all through the zone before it swings to Animal who throws a nice little looper to Jack for the would be goal. It comes back on a call pushing Marsh past disbelief as he refuses to return the disc before Tom Annen hits Dan Miller in the flat lane, but Dan can’t hold on to the disc as it drops. Colorado gets the disc up the line quickly a sends a huge backhand to space. Heijmen is first to the spot as Beaufort tries to come over the top and is boxed out enough to not come down with the disc. Rebholz puts the disc to Annen and quickly to Riley. Bucket is looking back across the grain and tries to hit Miller, but a Colorado defender bids and smacks the disc, only for Animal to snatch it out of the air to save possession on Wisconsin’s goal line. Wisconsin sprints the disc all the way down into Colorado’s end zone before a dump comes to Animal who flips a soft blade to Heijmen streaking into the corner for the goal 10-6. The Hodags can feel the pressure begin to build on Mamabird and look to increase the intensity. Another huge pull pushes Colorado deep into their end zone and some smothering defense downfield pushes the stall count all the way to 9 before Colorado resets to Rabbit as Tim Pearce makes a bid for the disc. Beau is able to get the disc often enough and goes deep to Bishop before it is called back on a travel. However, Dahl is able to find Taylor on the open side for the hold 10-7 and kick spike. Beau continues to rip forehand pulls and lands one just inside the cone. Annen and Rebholz play catch for several minutes before Wisconsin can work it out of the corner and get the offense running smoothly in flow. Riley makes a strong O2 cut across the field before the second straight layout attempt from Colorado goes flying past. Annen finds that O2 lane from Riley before nailing Jim Foster at the cone for the score 11-7. The Hodags come down in cup zone and force Colorado the throw the big hammer to break the 4-man cup. Mamabird eventually puts up the blade but Zip-Loke comes closer than Rabbit and the foul on the throw is overruled. Muffin finds Shane underneath and then Rebholz on the O2 as Wisconsin is creeping closer to the break. Scallet gets another O2 and swings the around to Muffin who goes inside-out break backhand across field to Shane. Shane aims to the far cone and tosses a soft rising flick to which Mahowald springs up to snatch for the break 12-7. In 3 passes Wisconsin goes sideline to sideline and Andrew obliges to spike the disc in excitement straight into the air over his head. The Hodags would mob Skywalker as Riley gave him some extra words of encouragement as Wisconsin took full control of the game. At this point Muffin goes for the home run pull but lands it far out of bounds. Wisconsin comes down in a nicely placed zone and Colorado struggles to move the disc before a short hammer is mishandled and doink’d out of bounds. Muffin quickly goes O2 to Animal before Scallet finds Miller on the in-cut. Several passes later Animal returns the favor to Muffin with the O2 pass to space and jump goal now 13-7. Wisconsin can now feel how close the end is and the excitement can only continue. Heijmen gives one final war cry and the Hodags have their eyes back on the prize. With a plethora of players rising to the occasion for Wisconsin, Colorado is struggling to keep up with the speed. Wisconsin is back to the zone and Jolian rips another inside-out backhand into the wind. It hangs only so long before Shane Hohenstein rips down the seeming desperation huck and finds Foster and Muffin quickly. Muffin has eyes only for the end zone and puts up a backhand to space for Lokke. William goes up early and Lokke’s seasoned Supergrip 2000 pair of hands has a terrible showing with the forearm doink for one of the five Wisconsin turns in the game. Colorado works the disc diligently and even throws a hammer over the top. After working the disc into Wisconsin’s red zone, Rabbit throws an easy pass to the up field lane but Beau is still flat-footed and gives Wisco the disc back. Muffin calls timeout to ensure sticking this break in and getting to game point. However the play falls to pieces and Muffin overthrows Gaynor in the wind, allowing Colorado one more chance to score. Dahl and Hohenstein get back into it about how much space Jolian needs to pivot to the backhand side, while Shane maintains that eating bellybutton is perfectly legal. Lokke fouls and hand blocks Mac Taylor twice on the goal line before Beau mishandles a pass near the cone as he lays out for the tipped disc. Muffin rushes the disc to the goal line and Beau is now on the mark. Malecek hits Foster up the line as the disc continues to Schmit and then to Shane in the center. “Malecek with his forehand stinger – but wow does he have a wicked release on his forehand” commented Delaney. Malecek makes a quick button hook to get back the disc from Shane near midfield as Weisbrod says, “Malecek’s looking deep again – he’s only got eyes for the end zone when he gets the disc.” At this exact moment Muffin shows his flick but Beau does not respect the around. Muffin pivots once more and rips a low release breakmark flick huck that is just knicked by Beau’s foot. “And he puts it up deep, sees Lokke, it’s going to stay in bounds. It stays in bounds and in the end zone, Lokke with the goal!” continues Weisbrod as Wisconsin breaks for the 14-7 lead. “Perfect marksmanship from that forehand snap from Malecek” said Delaney. “Malecek certainly has the best forehand in the college game, showing you there, showing you all game why he is considered the best thrower in the game right now” said Kyle. Lokke is stoked about the score and Wisconsin is ready to finish what it started 9 months earlier. Wisconsin finally shows the depth putting out a freshman and senior line as Colorado calls its last timeout. Miller gives a rousing speech and just as Kevin Riley is about to speak, the team cuts him off and brings it in for one final cheer. Wisconsin has seven different players to score a goal in the game as the Hodags look to finish. Miller gives the pull a rip and Wisconsin hustles down to prevent the first throw with Jeremiah and Bobby Lau cutting off the throwing lanes. Jolian gets the disc and sends it deep one final time. No Mamabird cutter is entering the deep space, as Q-Tip is able to track it down no problem. Scallet and Miller work the disc to Marsh who quickly hits Feldman. Ben is able to give the goat to Scallet who sends the blade flick into the wind deep the Cullen. Jeremiah is in the area, but lets Cullen have the glory of the final goal as Wisconsin wins its second National Championship in four years 15-7. Cullen refuses to spike the disc and gives it to Heijmen who clutches it for several hours. Wisconsin pulls itself together long enough to shake Colorado’s hands and have a team huddle. Jack Marsh is sure to break out the back flip before the players disperse for a team picture and medal’s presentation. After the medals and pictures, Hodags begin mobbing the fans and give post game comments. “‘It was amazing,’ captain and Callahan Award winner Dan Heijmen said of having such few turns. ‘We take risks down field. We go high-risk high-reward, so we tend to have games with a lot of turns, so it was amazing that we were able to pull it together, and be able to take care of the disc and make some big, stunning plays. It seemed like everything was working for us today’” (UPA). “Malecek, whose deep throws were on point all game, said establishing the deep game was important to the Hodags. ‘We definitely wanted to go out and bring the pressure to them, get the big throws out of the way, and try to find the match ups we wanted down field. We just played awesome’” (UPA). The championship would be a sweet turnaround from last year’s loss in the same stadium. Just like the Sunday of the week before against Sub Zero, Wisconsin finished the game on a 10-2 run.
Wisconsin would take many pictures with fans, parents, teammates, and whoever wanted in on the action. Several players had tears in their eyes as the Hodags put their arms around each other and spoke one last time about Hodag Love. Heijmen is able to sum up the occasion very well; “This is the greatest team I’ve ever been on. You are all very special. I love you guys so much.” The Hodags are sure to take a second picture this time in front of the scoreboard to never forget that moment. Several lucky Hodags are even able to trade jerseys with Mamabird players and Wisconsin escapes field after taking home the tournament bracket just as the rain falls.
Wisconsin was sure to check out of the Marriott that morning knowing the festivities that will ensue will be far too terrible for the Marriott to endure as Evan Klane fronted all $1700 for the long weekend.
The Days Inn is a place of havoc from the moment Hodags enter continued by an Arby’s food fight which breaks out behind the bushes. Players begin passing around their championship discs for the entire team to sign. Jeremiah and Schmitty even have a wrestling match outside. The best part is when the manager comes out to tell us to quiet down at around 2am, he only insists that we move down in the courtyard instead of getting into our rooms. The antics of climbing through windows continue to get the Hohensteins in a rage. Latino night is also happening, but the morning comes quickly as Gaynor looks for 20 minutes for his gold medal before realizing it is in his pocket.
Of late, there are several signals to know that your team is primed to win a national title. The first is to beat Stanford in semifinals, for that has happened 4 straight years in a row? Another signal of winning the big one is to have the Callahan winner on your team announced the previous day in Calladan Heijmen. It also helps to win the Region for seed, but this was the first Regional and National Championship in the same year for Wisconsin. The only trend to be broken was the Centex Curse – stating that the team who wins Centex usually loses in National finals? The similarities year to year are eerie as the 2007 season has many parallels to the 2003 team. First being a high profile transfer student from the Northeast with Jack Marsh and Dean Bolton respectively. Furthermore, the national finals loss in 2002 set up the title for 2003, as 2006 finals loss set up the title in 2007. Even random major season long injuries existed for both teams with Jimmy McMurray’s torn ACL and Adam Drews abdominal tear or even Andrew Mahowald’s back injury which kept him out of 4 major college tournaments this season. The best way to prove Wisconsin was the best team of all time is to look at the statistics and prove it on paper, because it leaves all of the subjectivity out of it. The final score of the weekend would be Madison 90, the competition 37. That is +53 for those of you keeping track at home. To break it down further, the Offense was 36/42 going 85.7% for scoring goals and the Defense was an incredible 54/84 going 64.2%. There were twice as many D points than O points as the D line dominated the other teams best offensive players again and again, breaking teams at will. The saddest part of Nationals was the meltdown of Belladonna who took 5th after losing to UBC in pool play after leading and having to meet UCLA in quarterfinals. That game was dubbed the “finals game” because it was so closely contested but Wisconsin could not battle back from the 0-4 beginning.
To continue the discussion and predictions – What is Wisconsin All About? To start, Wisconsin is experienced. 13 of 24 players on the roster were at least 4th in college players! It turns out Wisconsin will have 14 next year, essentially looking the strongest ever. However, it is going to hurt after that graduation and CUT is already talking shit. But the dominators of the youth that are being taught, sculpted, and built into champions to prove that they don’t always need depth to dominate. It was the team of 26 in 2005 that really bolstered the Hodags and the maturation of the Pimpdags is what makes Wisconsin a full-fledge powerhouse. The Hodags owe that success to our program, to coaches like Matt Pankratz and Hector Valdivia who put players into that position of learning and keeping the team strong. But what is that secret to Wisconsin’s late dominance of the country? It is actually no longer a secret – it is a crazy level of intensity. It is that drive to dominate, to win no matter who you are playing. It is the desire to get fired up and play your absolute hardest before every game. You need to have the competitive edge and lust to punish the other team. The hunger to win is a scary passion because you can see it in their eyes. When younger players can read it in the body emotion of players like Bryan Paradise, Ted Tripoli, and Hector Valdivia – you just want to emulate that kind of intensity. The Hodags to emulate now tend to be Dan Heijmen, Shane Hohenstein, Dan Miller, and Andrew Mahowald. They can bring the hate for every game and prove it on the field. The Hodags teach their players how to win, how to dominate, and how to feed off emotion on the field. Make no mistake the Hodags are pedigree men trained to make sick plays. The question is, can Wisconsin bring it every game for a full season? As they say, the top dog can go nowhere but down, or stay on top.
Let us put it to the history. Wisconsin has been in top 6 making quarterfinals of nationals every year since 2001. The Hodags have been to Nationals at least 11 times, dating back to 1996-2007 save 1998. Wisconsin is also coming off of the best season in history at 55-1 despite an excess of injuries all year. Still Wisconsin only lost 1 game by 1 point and even won the prestigious Centex without Q-Tip or Skywalker, winning the closest game 15-11. At Nationals when the Hodags were finally healthy, the closest score was 15-9, rather 15-6 being the average. Madison is essentially the best modern day program having played 4 of the last 6 national finals, and every year in nationals since 1999. Furthermore, if Wisconsin can continue the trend of dominance and get back to finals in 2008, the Hodags would have a strong case for the best class of players ever. Wisconsin would have a graduating class of 12 players who will have played in 3 national finals, which would beat UCSB’s 10 players who have been to nationals 3 times and the probably their 41 in 2 years. Basically since 2000 Madison has been dominating the landscape with Colorado. Here is the premise – Wisconsin has not only the best single year college team ever, is becoming the best modern day program, and almost has the best class of players ever. The best line ever in a class in the history of ultimate could be the 2008 Hodags. Three stud handlers in Matt Rebholz, Kevin Riley, Muffin Malecek and four dominate cutters in Andrew Mahowald, Shane Hohenstein, Will Lokke, and Chris Doede. Add to that defender Seth Meyer and cutter Tim Pearce – this is literally the best 9 players to ever graduate in a single class. However, the 2006 team would have some say in the contest with 8 players of Rodrigo Valdivia, Ted Tripoli, Tom Burkly, Brian Frederick, Nate Hurst, Mike Lang, James Scott, and Mike Ottum – also add to that team Dan Heijmen and Dan Miller and that is a lineup filled with dominators. Prediction – the 2008 Hodags will be the best team in college history going undefeated 56-0 and winning 8 tournaments. The Wisconsin dynasty will be better than Santa Barbara’s 3-peat and UNCW’s run in the 90’s. Wisconsin will be unstoppable next year with 8 players getting time with Sub Zero and the opportunity to get to play some of the best club teams in the world. Expect the younger players to sharpen their skills while getting valuable experience with Madison Club. The college season starts in approximately 2 months – can the Hodags defend the title?
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