While the weather did not warrant a chant of “suns out, guns out”, the west coast’s answer to the elite level of competition saw at last weekend’s Warm Up proved to be a success. Despite a shuffle of scheduling, the UC San Diego campus was buzzing like gushers with some of the best Ultimate in the country.
Day 1 – Saturday:
Saturday opened Pres Day with many surprises. Pool A (probably the most contentious pool) saw many upsets as the San Diego State Federalis won out beating the number 1 seed Minnesota Greyduck (13-7). Grey Duck captain Austin Juds recounted the tough day: “The game plan [Saturday] for us was to focus on playing hard d, and being aggressive after the turn. We wanted to play our style of Ultimate and not let the other team dictate the flow of the game,” said Austin Juds. “Our toughest game [Saturday] was against San Diego State. They played very well against us and capitalized on our mistakes.”
San Diego State captain Tim Gilligan was ecstatic with the performance of his Federalis. “We were fired up for that game. We had just rolled [Black] Tide in the game before and had our sights set on winning the pool,” explains Gilligan. “Our O was efficient and kept the game rolling along, while our D, especially our man D, was thuggish. Blardo had a nasty chest high lay out D on a huck that led to an early break, Jackson was uncoverable, and one of our rookies Elijah brought down some stall 9 swill in the second half that put an exclamation mark on the win.”
Pool B was won by California UGMO although not without tough competition. The Washington Sundodgers were true to their name in bringing more than just a close game but also some good ‘ol Northwest weather. UGMO captain James Pollard detailed the battle: “It started hailing against Washington at 9-6 advantage Washington”, said Pollard. “After the weather calmed down, we scored 5 straight at 7-11 to win the game on universe point. Washington only completed 3 throws in the last points. Our defense was unstoppable. Definitely our favorite game of the day.”
Despite having former CUT captain Sam Kanner back in action, Cal would go on to have a poor showing for the rest of the weekend.
Also in Pool B, Carleton GOP finished 2-2 (with a victory of Kansas) as did Washington. Kansas Horrizontals and the UCLA Smaug finished 1-3 on the day.
Oregon Ego came to Presidents Day to show the country that they were ready for another run at the championship despite losing almost the entire 2010 o-line, including baller handler Eli Janin, and Callahan winner Eli Friedman. Domination is exactly what they brought. Led by captain Cody Bjorklund and all star freshman Dylan Freechild, no other team scored more than 8 points on the first day. “Coming into Presidents Day, I did not really know what to expect”, said Cody Bjorklund. “I knew we had a talented team, but I think we were struggling to find our identity. We definitely found it. For example, I think our o-line was broken only three times [Saturday]. Also, Dylan Freechild had no turns all day. I think those stats speak for themselves.”
The one team to give Ego their toughest game of the day was Colorado College (13-8). Colorado College surprised everyone by taking second in the pool. As the tournament moved forward, this unexpected darkhorse proved it could play with some of the best teams in the nation.
On Saturday, the Northwest just plain dominated Presidents’ Day. The British Columbia Thunderbirds ran away with Pool D, with the UC Davis Dogs giving them the closest game of the day, scoring 10. This would set the tone for the next day, as British Columbia would continue to win.
Days 2-3 – Sunday-Monday:
Saturday’s play provided minimal placement advantages, as everyone was given a spot in the Championship bracket. Making some big noise in the early rounds was Black Tide of UC Santa Barbra. Despite going 2-2 on Saturday, they had big wins over Chico State, and Cal UGMO before losing to Texas in the quarterfinals. Texas Tuff also made a big statement making it to the Semi Finals before losing to Minnesota. Oregon Ego continued their domination, including a 15-13 win over Minnesota in the quarterfinals. However, due to early flights out of Los Angeles, Ego had to leave early, giving Minnesota the nod to the semifinals where they beat out Texas for a spot in the finals.
On the Other side of the Bracket, Colorado College continued the unexpected run, beating Dartmouth Pain Train in the pre-quarters on Universe. In the quarters Colorado College ran into the northwest’s giant UBC. Though Colorado College proved to give UBC the best game of the weekend, they would fall 13-15. “UBC has a very quick team with strong disc skills that plays very smart defense,” explained Nick Spiva of Colorado College. “They got some early d’s on us because we thought we could throw lazily over their short Asian defenders – but they have some serious hops and ripped them down!” said Spiva. “Playing against UBC was probably my favorite game of the weekend. They were a spirited team and a smart team to play against.”
Ezra Siegel of Colorado College believes they caught the Thunderbirds off guard. “I do not think UBC was ready for us to up our level play from how we started. Our deep game is definitely our forte and that led to the close game combined with some hard D to catch up on almost all the breaks we lost earlier in the game.”
Despite the loss in the quarterfinals, Colorado College is excited about their performance and what it means for their program throughout the season. “Really I think it helped the most in just lighting a fire underneath a lot of guys,” said Nick Spiva, “We showed ourselves we can run with anyone, which goes a long way towards motivating people at practice and workouts.” Ezra Siegel points to the friendship and bond of the team that has drove Colorado to great success. “We are a team that receives no help from anyone besides the players currently playing,” says Ezra. “We have no coach, only our alumni in the area aid us, which makes our performance that much more special.”
Though they would fall in a 3rd place game to Texas (15-11), San Diego State continued to show the nation that they are a force to be recokned with, coming up with a big win over the Washington Sundodgers in the quarterfinals. “This year has been successful for us because of the large number of experienced players returning from last year,” said Federalis captain Tim Gilligan. “Especially after a year where we barely missed going to nationals, it makes everyone realize that we have the potential to reach our goals. I guess what I’m saying is we just want it more this year, and we are putting in the work to get there.”
The Federalis too could not stop the will of the Canadians, as the Thunderbirds earned their other spot in the finals. “While UBC deserved their win, the game was nothing but frustrating. What stuck out to me most was our inability to convert in the red zone, especially on D-offense. They played really good endzone D and we took more risks than we should have.” Despite the loss, Gilligan is excited for the rest of the season. “We just can’t be satisfied,” said Gilligan. “While we feel like we have the potential to be the best team in the Southwest, I don’t think we’re there yet.”
With Ego cutting their tournament short, and Texas Tuff falling to Grey Duck in the semis, Minnesota would then run into a brick wall in the finals, losing to UBC Thunderbirds 15-5. With tournament victories of the Santa Barbara Invite and now Presidents’ day, UBC has shown that they are the strongest team on the west coast, and until they prove themselves, at the Stanford Invite in two weeks, may even be the best in the nation.
5. Santa Barbara
7T. Colorado College
7T. San Diego