Wednesday, October 22, 2008


For a weekend with supposedly little significance, it was loaded with early season expectations, Regional rivalries, and plenty of drama. The Wisconsin Hodags hosted their first tournament since Midwestern’s 2003, and with the help of Cultimate, put together a premier event. They took advantage of the fantastic Cooler Classic fields of Delafield, WI – and weather on Saturday that was the best possible, a calmness with highs in the mid 60’s, sunny, and no wind to speak of.
The Hodag captains drafted their respective split squad teams, and nobody was as confident as Tom Annen who briefly mumbled, “AnimalSaurusRex will be the team to watch this weekend, because Evan Klane’s ‘Army of Champions’ lottery picks -- can’t actually throw at all. I’m very confident with the studs we recruited and keep your eye out for Ben Feldman!” 

Captain Evan Klane countered these comments with two words, “Pew! Pew!” Saturday morning provided many cups of hot chocolate, Patagonia galore, and a perfect atmosphere for college ultimate. All of the top seeds of Carleton, Colorado, and Wisconsin reX & armY had first round byes to soak in the scene. Pool play would challenge both Wisconsin teams, as a slow warm-up combined with other team's desire to take down any Wisconsin squad had clearly heightened the atmosphere.

Luther and Michigan battled early as Wisconsin drilled, but rising Central star Greg Shirbourner was not able to take down a sloppy Michigan, even with the excellent guidance of alumni Dill McAdam. Meanwhile, Colorado was struggling early, losing a close game to Kansas 11-15 before going down on universe point to Illinois 14-13. Minnesota was looking stronger than usual with ex-Hodags Dan Schmit and Tim Pearce holding down the offensive line, along with all-around stud and dedicated boyfriend Mike Arenson. Charlie Reznikoff could be seen shouting put-downs at Grey Duck all through the much anticipated Army of Champions match-up.

As the day progressed, Tom Animal made his presence known to all that would oppose him – as his style points certainly helped increase his level of play. Captain Jimmy Foster was roaming from sideline to sideline, evaluating talent as best he could, as Sub Zero heckled him from the next field over. Wisconsin AnimalSaurusReX played a close game with Luther, just escaping with a 15-13 victory. They followed that up with a 15-11 beat-down on Michigan, asserting dominance early, and continuing it with prospective Hodags making plays. Animal, Murray and Feldman all had big time performances with their aggressive hucks. Rex took the pool 2-0 using athletic, intense, and on-the-hip shut tight shut down defense.

Wisconsin Army of Champions was very confident in the week approaching No Wisconsequences, winning the practice scrimmages and talking it up, so much that Jon Gaynor flashed onto the radar. However, a veteran stacked St. Olaf looked plenty confident to throw-down with the tryout Hodags - bombing early and often and skying for deep scores. Adam Drews began to pick up the slack and take over, propelling the Army of Champs to a narrow 15-13 victory over Olaf. Mr. Meyer must have been so proud, as his son Nate absolutely dominated all over the field, as Seth could only watch mildly disgruntled about rule violations on the sideline. While Rex took care of business - Army was ready to choke and certainly stumbled, at times looking intimidated against a full Minnesota team in pool play. Unable to stop Minnesota's initial set plays and their semi solid offensive line - Grey Duck took control of the momentum. Wisconsin could not put any pressure on Grey Duck's quick disc movement and struggled to move the disc in the backfield. Refusing to huck the disc, Minn's patience worked with slashing unders, taking half 8-6 despite Tim Pearce (wearing his Hodag jersey) being completely ineffective against his old team. In the second half, Minnesota pulled away 15-9, but not before Zach Alter skied the crap out of Mike Arenson pretty brutally, humiliating him in front of his Sub Zero teammates.

Meanwhile, Carleton College was dominating the scene, shutting out MSU in the first game and using all 20 players available to them. Once in awhile CUT would heed some of the advice that Coach Derek Gottlieb (2001 UPA Champion) was able to bestow upon them. Jerome Potter was overheard on many occasions – as Ben Hahn was also able to confirm – teaching his fellow CUT’s the finer points of subtle cheating. This only set-up the drama that would occur in the cross-over games as Wisconsin ReX was set to play Carleton. With Fat Kanner and Grant Lindsley steering the ship – CUT would stack the first 9 points with a universe worthy line – clearly set on taking down the split squad Hodags. Their plan worked to perfection as sloppy turns let CUT rampage to a 6-1 lead, almost taking a 4-0 start. Wisconsin was content to play open lines and evaluate the talented freshman, fighting to earn a spot. The second half was a much closer contest as CUT relaxed their lines as well, trading 7-5 as Carleton went 3-0 on the day.
Army of Champions had a crucial cross-over game against a split-squad Iowa, a rematch of semifinals of Regionals last year. The first half was extremely exciting as both teams hucked in the increasing wind, as Wisconsin armY took the early lead using on the hip defensive pressure. However, Iowa convinced armY that it was game to only 13 and responded with a befuddling force middle 4 man cup. The wind was increasing and breaking the cup became difficult and the Wisconsin split squad wasn’t able to pop the zone effectively enough to break it. Soon, the over the top hammers were being eaten by Iowa’s big athletic wings & deep, which led to poor transition defense, giving way to Iowa eventually dominating 13-9. This tragic loss pushed Army of Champions into prequarters of the 17th place bracket and almost put Officer Jon Gaynah! into tears, “I'd trade my girlfriend to Foster for a night for a shot into the winner's bracket!?

As the day came to a close all of the tournament gear had been sold and with requests for more jerseys and pullovers. Sunday was a whole different day entirely as T-Shirts were replaced with jackets, and long sleeves were evident for all but Carleton -who insisted upon wearing basketball jerseys. The swift early morning wind and cold fronts moved into the Wisconsin tundra – making zone defense the fall fashion from game to game. AnimalRex was still in the winner's bracket and playing quarterfinals against the Iowa squad who had crushed Champions the day before. The conditions turned sour and soon upwind-downwind was the scenario. The handling corps of Animal, Bergen, Yossi, Jake Smart, and Tom Murray all had big throws and loose cannons as the game progressed. Iowa went Zone immediately, believing it was their greatest weapon. Madison bombed early and often, punting downwind and playing shut-down D, many times forcing insta-turns from Iowa. Wisconsin broke first and never looked back, determined to mix up the strategy of hammers, hucks, and Yossi popping the cup better than Rebholz ever could. Meanwhile Bergen had flatly refused to attempt to break the mark or take any chance whatsoever save the scoober. But Iowa was able to keep it close, mainly from the nature of the wind and scoring downwind. But soon, Feldman had gained his swagger and threw 3 straight huck bombs for goals, hitting cutters perfectly in stride. Wisconsin exploded the game wide open by spreading the field and then crushing on the scattered defenders - putting it out to 15-9 and moving into semifinals.

On the next field over, Minnesota and Colorado were fighting for a semifinals berth. Colorado was running the Mac Taylor Show, going upwind and down, getting seemigly every pass. Mamabird looked big, athletic, and more athletic - dominating the air and pulling down hucks from all directions. Give Minnesota credit, they refused to punt downwind - absolutely refused. They threw dangerous swings and turfed several break side unders on their way to letting Colorado back into the game. The only plays of note were Mac Taylor pivoting to break and Arenson brutally hacking him something brutal, especially considering what a nice guy he used to be pre-Sub Zero. It went all the way down to universe point as Colorado again went up and big, taking the game. That put the semi-finals repeat of CO vs. WI, while Illinois vs. CUT were in the other. Carleton was actually playing their games on the cross-wind fields - which made for many OB pulls. Carleton was obviously putting the screws to Illinois - going up with early breaks before Illinois responded back. The second half was never in question as Kanner and Lindsley made play after play 13-7. In the other game, Mac seemed to have carried the load only as far as he could, limping slightly and proving ineffective against Wisconsin's poach and tough defense. Rex was in control most of the way and newcomer Jon "Kill Mode" Armstrong caught all 3 upwind breaks, spiking all 3. The final cap was 11-9 Rex as Animal's squad moved into a re-match of the previous day in finals and commented, "I look so good, all the time. I'm incredibly glad Pebbles graduated."

Meanwhile, ArmY of Lazer was battling UW-Whitewater in a tough Sectional rivalry game. It was hard nosed defense to the core on both sides, but moving the disc in general was difficult. Matt Crumb and Big Pat also refused to punt the disc, but Champions held on to the 14-12 win to still have a shot at 17th place. Next up was McGill of Ottawa, who threw a ridiculously brutal Zone. The game deteriorated quickly as Gaynor was now really pissed at Animal for drafting all the big throwers. But McGill was determined to flex on this split squad, winning big (13-7) but not before calling a suspect foul on a wolfpack disc when surrounded by 5 Wisconsin players, all waiting for the disc to come down. However, ArmY of Champions thought they finished their day on a high note - putting down Michigan State something hard 13-2. But they were wrong - instead of watching finals and cheering on the other half of Wisconsin, Magnum forced armY into one last game, before folding 9-6.

All this action set up the fabled Central Regional final match-up for at least the last 8 years - Carleton vs. Wisconsin. But, in reality it was split squad AnimalSaurusRex vs. Tryout Carleton. CUT was politely asked by Foster if they would like to perhaps play the full Wisconsin team to see where they might stack up? Jerome sent L.A. Gangsta jibberish flying in all directions before dropping, "Shit ya, bring the house, give us all that you got!" Skip stared at his watch as the 40 Hodag tryout circle got pumped up to bring it in finals, as Carleton waited on the line. However, then Michigan showed up and said that they really really pretty please wanted to play one more game. Most of the team looked pissed about having to leave finals, but this also nixed the chances of picking up Gaynor, Drews, and Matt Crumb for the finals. The game was intense from start to finish, but Carleton was controlling the tempo - scoring easily on Offense, with Sockeye-like ability to throw 3-4 passes per possession. Wisconsin was attacking the middle of the field and playing it chilly. Feldman was playing all over the field, almost getting the most ridiculous in-layout D on Grant, ripping the disc out of his fingers with Doede-like intensity. Furthermore, Feldman also jerked*ahem*juked Grant in the lane so hard, that he brutally fell over in the lane pretty silly looking. In the second half, the game tightened to 10-8 and the older studs believed with a couple more Hodags like Evan and Gaynor, reX would have killed. Wisconsin was able to hang around late with 3 deep goals from Jake Smart and one nice grab on near the line by Davidman.

But soon Carleton exerted themselves and Wisconsin played it open again - yielding victory to CUT at 15-10. GOP was so excited, they stopped heckling Animal and the Observer for just about 10 seconds when it ended.

Wisconsin was left to clean up and make the final 2009 Hodags.


Anonymous said...

gonna post the names of the 08/09 hodags?

Anonymous said...

got a picture of the tournament gear?

Anonymous said...

McGill is from Montreal, not Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

I'm told that McGill is incidentally known as the "Harvard of Canada".

Anonymous said...

I your writing Muffin... I do not know why I keep reading it.

Anonymous said...

where could i get a cool hodag jersey?