Tournament within a tournament: The North Central at Easterns

by | March 18, 2011, 1:40pm 0

For the past 5 years, either Carleton or Wisconsin has won the Central Region, and each time, that winner has gone on to advance to the last game of the college season. Additionally, both Minnesota and Iowa have spent the last two seasons climbing to national prominence.

While Easterns has teams attending from all around the country, you can bet that each North Central will be sizing each other up in preparation for Regionals before they’re thinking about what may lay ahead in Boulder, Colorado.

Carleton's Patrick Roberts (left) against Wisconsin

With some of the best high school recruitment around as well as a very strong intramural program, Carleton is a national powerhouse. One unique aspect of CUT’s season makeup is its school’s quarter system. Rather than two semesters that correlate well with the USA Ultimate season, Carleton players have a Fall, Winter, and Spring term. Some players have commitments to varsity sports teams during the winter term, requiring them to miss early tournaments, while other students choose to study abroad, not making it back until later in the season.Forced to deal with roster movement up until mid-March, CUT leadership has often stated that it trades early season success for late season depth.

Returning from abroad for CUT is Ben Sullender. Captain Alex Evangelides comments that “Sully will be huge. He brings amazing energy and positivity, as well as being a dynamite player. He was on the field for almost every D point last year”. Also, freshman Jonah Herscu was just able to join the team at the Stanford Invite. The rookie standout also is a member of Carleton’s basketball team during the winter months, and his experience at the handler position (Herscu attended Amherst Regional High School and was a member of 2010’s Junior Worlds team) helped CUT at Stanford.



Former Hodag standout Will Lokke, who graduated after Wisconsin’s second consecutive championship in 2008, gave his take on what Easterns meant for his team:

“I know in the years before I was at Wisconsin, Easterns attracted teams from the west as well as having more talent situated on the East Coast. What I took away from our years at Easterns was that it was never as competitive as other big events such as Stanford, Vegas or Centex.

“Pittsburgh seemed to be the largest threat to our success (and possibly Harvard or Dartmouth), but we saw it mostly as a bonding tournament in preparation for the Series.  During pool play we would run younger players, try out new plays if there was an opportunity, and work on varying defenses.  On Sunday we’d be more down to business, as our main lines would be pretty set at that time during the season.

“There was a memorably close game against James Madison one year, who had a handler/cutter combo* that threw anything they could think of, and somehow seemed to come up with almost everything.  I think finals against Pitt that year was more scrappy than our usual games, with a guy on the Pitt sideline angering a few of our players…”

*Editor’s note: While the handler hasn’t been confirmed, it’s safe to assume that the cutter was Jeff Larz or Chris “Scuttle” Barker. Ballers.



A talented but still unproven squad, Grey Duck is looking forward to Easterns as a Nationals preview. “We are looking forward to Easterns this weekend as it will be highly representative of teams we’ll be seeing at Nationals. We are confident in our ability to beat every team in the nation, but we also recognize that we are somewhat lacking in experience. All teams we’ll be playing are very talented and we will have to play our best game each game in order to win,” says the team’s  Matt Marinello.

Grey Duck

While the team has a solid group of upperclassmen, it also boasts a number of strong juniors players. The list includes three freshman that won the Minnesota State tournament, and Josh Klane who represented USA at the World Junior competition. The inexperienced crowd is balanced out by a heavy club presence, as Marinello, Chris Demet, Dan Miesen, Stephan Mance, Dan Hoff, and Greg Arenson all played with Sub Zero during the 2010 season.

Marinello knows that the road to nationals is going to be a tough one, “The Central region is strong. Ourselves, Wisconsin, Carleton, and Iowa can all hang against the best teams, so bids to Nationals will be hard-fought and at least one team that deserves to go won’t. We will be working hard up to Regionals and plan on winning the region. Last year we lost in the Regional final 11-15 in a close game against CUT that we easily could have won. We beat Wisconsin twice that weekend, but they have improved this year and will put up a better fight.”


Finally breaking through to Nationals last year, IHUC was the Central’s fourth team. Known for their huck-happy offense that utilized talented deep receivers like Tyler Glenn and Sean “Shark” Parker, Iowa was able to pull out a 9th place finish at Madison by besting Illinois, Oregon and hometown rival Wisconsin.

Coming into the 2010-11 season, Iowa won the Free State Classic, despite early exits in No Wisconsequences and Missouri Loves Company. Add a finals loss in Mardi Gras to regional rival Minnesota, and at this point IHUC looks like they aren’t going to miss a beat. Iowa, like their regional rivals, will use Easterns to prepare for the impending gauntlet, and they know that a few decisive wins could make life down the road easier because it could mean a fourth bid to Nationals. Be sure to check out Neeley’s post on Gleason’s Army for more information on Iowa.  Thanks to Zack Smith for the information on Iowa



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