Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Advances to Nationals

James Blankenship, Sports Editor

As the spring sun coaxes white trilliums into bloom and varsity sports wrap up their seasons, one Oberlin team is rejoicing in the patience that ultimately led it back to Nationals. The women’s ultimate Preying Manti, for the second straight year, will compete in the Division III Ultimate College Championships held in Buffalo, NY, from May 20–22.

They will prey upon any species small enough to be captured and devoured, and they will do it with a smile. Yet like their little green equivalent, the Manti have found ways to disappear over the last few months. But with their season on the line, they were able to seize the moment.

Last weekend’s Ohio Valley Regionals in Manheim, PA, featured five colleges from Pennsylvania (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Messiah, Franklin and Marshall and Gettysburg) and two from Ohio (Oberlin and Ohio Wesleyan) competing for three bids to Nationals. The Manti, despite not having played any sanctioned games against the Pennsylvania schools, took two of them to task only to fall just short in the tournament’s early goings.

A close 8–10 loss to Haverford followed by a 9–13 decision against Messiah would have seemed to put the Manti in hole, but they took out some frustration in their third game against in-state rival Wesleyan. A 13–5 drubbing, especially after enduring two tough losses to the Bishops in last April’s Conference Championships, was enough to heal their wounds.

They seemed to carry some momentum into their fourth game against Gettysburg, holding the lead for most of the contest as wind misdirected passes and slowed the tempo. Unable to close the deal in the final moments, the Manti finished the first day in fourth place (1-3) with a slim chance at returning to Nationals.

With nothing to lose, a dangerous Manti team opened play on Sunday by mercilessly dispatching Franklin and Marshall 13–7. A Wesleyan team in search of redemption followed, but was sent away after allowing a season-high 15 points. The Manti rode those scores into a shot to play in the championship game, but ran out of steam in a 8–15 loss to Gettysburg. The Manti, playing for the last remaining bid to Nationals, sealed an impressive turnaround by putting the kibosh on Franklin and Marshall’s with a 13-9 triumph.

When asked what another bid means to the team, senior handler Marisa Ishimatsu replied, “We all wanted the glory for our team [this weekend]. We played against teams we hadn’t played before and encountered very different styles of play, but we adjusted beautifully.”

“We really excelled against every team we played, and we were never shut out,” she said. After dealing with the mystery that is springtime weather in the Midwest, the Manti finally had some sun.

Oberlin’sManti, currently listed as the second seed in the Ohio Valley region behind Haverford, will look to send seniors Ishimatsu, Catherine Durkin, Elizabeth Dalley, Catherine Ohare, Lida Wise and Gaby Baker off in a major way when time comes for Nationals. After struggling against out-of-state teams and handling their in-state foes, the Manti will look to take their doubters by surprise just like they did last weekend.

You won’t find them bragging, though. As Ishimatsu explained, ultimate is “supposed to be about the spirit of the game, and some teams forget that. We wear super-shiny handmade skirts, sing Frisbee songs to every team we play, and [we] even dyed our hair pink to brighten up the field for regionals.

“We are always about spirit, no matter if we get rolled or beat a team to get to Nationals.”