Ultimate Teams Headed to Regionals

Rose Stoloff, Staff Writer

After a successful weekend of Ultimate, both the Flying Horsecows and the Preying Manti will be advancing to regionals.

The Horsecows, Oberlin’s men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, competed in sectionals in North Ridgeville, Ohio, where they placed fourth, securing themselves a bid to regionals. The Horsecows were pleased with their performance, especially considering that they play in the most competitive section in the country.

The Horsecows began Saturday amid a hailstorm and frigid temperatures with easy victories over both John Carroll University and Ohio Northern University.

In their third game, however, the Horsecows — who are ranked 24th nationally — faced Kenyon College, the No. 1 ranked Division III Ultimate team. Although Kenyon beat them without much effort, the Horsecows did not lose their momentum and went on to beat the College of Wooster at the end of the day.

Sunday began with a bit more of a struggle. The Horsecows had to contend with rugged fields, torn up from the previous day’s brutal weather, when they faced Xavier University, who beat them last year at sectionals.

“They’re a very good team,” said junior and captain Quinn Schiller. “But we played a great first half with them, just trading points. We went into the second half leading 7–6, and then they destroyed us.”

Junior Nikhil Kalathil found the loss especially frustrating because, unlike Kenyon, Xavier “really had to try to win. It was a game that was really a dog fight, and then something happened in the second half and they started pulling away bit by bit.”

The Horsecows resurged, beating Ohio Wesleyan University in their next game. This win also guaranteed them fourth place in the tournament and a sure bid to regionals where they will play teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Schiller says he expects the team to do well at regionals, but that “the competition is just on a higher level than at sectionals.”

Unlike at sectionals, where fourth place was enough to earn a bid to regionals, they will have to be the first-place team at regionals in order to advance to nationals. Fortunately for the Horsecows, Kenyon elected to play Division I, but Schiller says there are other competitive teams to contend with. The Horsecows will have to face Xavier again as well as Lehigh University, another strong team.

“I don’t think the goal of regionals is going to be to win, even though that would be great,” says Schiller. “We’re gonna show up and play the best we can and beat a lot of teams, and as we like to say, we’re going to ‘put the fear of God in people’ and let them know that the Horsecows are not to be messed with.”

In order to prepare for regionals, Schiller says the team will be focusing on playing disciplined scrimmages.

On the women’s side, the Preying Manti went undefeated last weekend and had only 15 points scored against them the entire tournament. The Manti had a slightly longer trek than the Horsecows, playing at Kenyon College just under two hours away.

The first game of the weekend was against the Manti’s own B team. Senior captain Margaret Rosano said that playing their B team “was a really nice way to warm up and ease into things,” since the Manti have historically struggled playing cohesively at the start of a tournament.

Next, the Manti took on the College of Wooster. “We could tell once we arrived, just from watching other people play them, that they were going to be our best competition of the weekend,” said Rosano. Despite this mindset, the Manti defeated Wooster rather decisively. “We figured out what they were doing, and we figured out how to beat it, and there was no turning back for us,” she said.

The Manti finished Saturday with two very strong wins against both Denison University and Kenyon. “I’d say we finished our games pretty confident,” said Rosano.

“We started Sunday making sure we weren’t getting too cocky and making sure we stayed focused,” she added. The Manti first played Ohio Wesleyan, a team that has historically been strong in its section and almost defeated the Manti last year. Ohio Wesleyan was able to score four points against the Manti, more than any other team in the entire tournament, but the Manti still proved themselves the dominant team.

Finally, the Manti played Ohio Northern, putting together an effortless 13–1 victory to advance to the championship round of play.

The team faced Wooster again in the championship game and once again beat them flawlessly. The Manti ended the tournament in first place, completely undefeated.

Senior Sharon Cross attributes much of the Manti’s success to the dedication of their co-captains, Rosano and senior Kayla Emrick. “They’ve done a lot for helping the competitiveness of our program. We have a lot more strategies that other women’s teams have never seen before. They don’t know how to deal with a lot of our defenses,” she said.

Rosano agrees that the team is developing into a very competitive program. “I’ve seen a lot of elite-level Ultimate played, and though our team lacks a little bit of experience, we are kind of getting to that level. I think we could be an elite college team in the next few years,” she said. “This weekend was very indicative of the fact that we are not your average Ohio D-III women’s Ultimate team.”

The Manti’s victory will send them to regionals in two weeks in Sherrodsville, Ohio. Emrick says the Manti are being very deliberate about their preparation for regionals. “We’re trying to take the next two weeks a little easier on our bodies but still thinking really critically about skills we could be improving on. We’re improving the mentality rather than pushing our bodies.” Emrick and Rosano both believe that keeping a focused mentality will be critical to defeating their biggest competitor at regionals, Swarthmore College. “They’re very motivated captains and players,” said Rosano. “They’re coming at this having worked really hard. But I’m really excited to play against them and to see how we measure up against a team of their caliber.”

“Ideally we’ll be ranked just after them coming into regionals, and ideally we’ll be ranked just above them after regionals,” added Emrick. The Manti B team played a very strong game this past weekend as well, winning two decisive victories against Ohio Northern and Kenyon. Emrick and Rosano both said they felt a lot of pride watching the B team do so well. “That moment when you see a first-year player put their game face on and take charge of the field and call the shots, telling other people what to do — it’s the coolest moment,” said Emrick.

Both the Preying Manti and the Flying Horsecows will compete at regionals the weekend of April 27–28.