Carleton CUT: The Road to Boulder

by | May 25, 2011, 7:19pm 0

Carleton College is one of the most well known dynasties in college ultimate. The team was first formed in 1984, originally known as the Frisbee Union of Carleton Knights. CUT first qualified for Nationals in 1990 and have made it back to the dance every year except for 2006, when the Central Region had only one bid to Nationals (Carleton lost to the Wisconsin Hodags 15-12 in the Regional Finals). In their 21 trips to the show, CUT has made it to the Semifinals twelve times, including five Finals appearances (1996, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2010) and two National Championships (2001, 2009). Over the many successful years, Carleton has graduated great players such as Chase S-B, Sam Kanner (3rd in 2010 Callahan voting) and 2001 Callahan award winner Alex Nord. An interesting fact that not many people may know is that Carleton does not nominate players for the Callahan award meaning that in order for a player from CUT to be considered in the vote, the Regional Coordinator must nominate them, making Nord and Kanner’s feats even more impressive. This also explains why star player Grant Lindsley is not on the ballot for this year, as he is the North Central Regional Coordinator for 2011.

Huge layout D by Simon Montague against Texas at the Stanford Invite.


Over time, Carleton has shown the ability to avoid the rebuilding cycle experienced by many elite teams and be in the national title hunt year after year. Many, including this writer, thought that the loss of Kanner, Fagin, Powers, Chow (all of whom were handlers) and Robert Carlton would prove to be too great of a gap to fill and that CUT would have less than fantastic results. Despite all of the departing talent, Carleton turned in one of its most impressive regular seasons, amassing twenty-two wins and only three losses on the way to two tournament victories at Warm Up: A Florida Affair and the Stanford Invite, as well as a third place finish at College Easterns. CUT entered the series ranked first in the country, and went undefeated at the Northwoods Conference tournament, taking down Minnesota Grey Duck 13-9 in the Finals. However, Carleton would fall short at North Central Regionals, first losing to Wisconsin 11-14 in the Finals and then 6-14 to Iowa’s IHUC in the second place game. I spoke to with senior handler Alex Kinsey to talk about CUT’s success and their ability to be the team to beat year after year.

The sky is the limit for Carleton this year.


“It’s always nice to win tournaments, but we use winter tournaments to get better as a team. The results don’t matter to us. In that vein parts of Warm-Up and Stanford were great. We played to our potential and found out what we were capable of, but neither were complete tournaments in that we did not sustain our best ultimate for every game. So although the victories were nice, we knew that we had more work to do.

Lots of people think we’re going to have a harder road back each season because every year we graduate a number of great players. To give a few examples; players we graduated last year: Sam Kanner, Adrian Chow, Adam Fagin; two years ago: Chris Kosednar, Jerome Potter; three years: Patrick Baylis, Sam Roberts. This happens every year to us; we always have players step up to fill the roles of those graduated. We have a very strong sophomore class with Nick Stuart, Simon Montague, Justin Norden, Julian Childs-Walker, Ian Hollyer, David Long, and Will Herold who now have a year under their belts and many of them are taking larger roles this year than last year. Also many juniors are stepping into bigger roles as well. But this is something that happens to CUT year in and year out. Next year CUT will have to deal with the graduation of seven seniors, but more players will step up just like they do every year.

Also despite the losses due to graduation, we do have a fair amount of continuity on our lines. For example, seniors Grant Lindsley, Patrick Roberts, and I [Alex Kinsey] have been on the O-line together for the past three years and last year we were paired with now sophomores Justin Norden and Julian Childs-Walker. Essentially only two people had to be replaced on the O-line this year, and freshman Jonah Herscu and junior Mike Clark have filled the roles perfectly.”

Kinsey also gave credit to Phil Bowen, this year’s coach of Carleton, and also helped shed some light as to how CUT is able to prepare their younger talent for the rigor of elite college ultimate:

“Our coach is Phil Bowen, a CUT alum from 1996. He coached us last year for the first time but has many years of coaching experience. He also captains Surly, the Masters team in the Twin Cities that won Masters last year. He is able to take a good load off of our captains’ shoulders by calling lines and helping come up with strategies in game. As to how we prepare our younger players, we play all of the time. This constant practice just makes players better. The only way you get better is playing good competition, and we see some of the best competition in practice every day.”

Justin Norden with the high release against Virginia at College Easterns.


The Knights of Carleton surely fit their Man of Steel look from their 2010 Finals run at Nationals. However, while Superman has his Kryptonite, CUT has Wisconsin and Florida. Over the past eight years (since 2004 – the farthest score reporter goes back), only Wisconsin, Florida and Stanford have winning records against Carleton (Stanford is left out of the following discussion due to their weaker results of the past two years. Feel free to show me up Bloodthirsty!). I did some digging, and compiled the following statistics on the Carleton-Wisconsin and Carleton-Florida rivalries (all data from 2004-2011):

  • vs. Wisconsin (8-12, 40%)
    • 2004: 1 Win, 1  Loss
      • 9-10: Stanford Invite Pre-Quarterfinals
      • 11-10: Central Regional Finals
    • 2005: 1 Win, 3 Losses
      • 8-15: Brown Invite Pool Play
      • 9-14: Piggy Back Pool Play
      • 15-11: Central Regional Finals
      • 12-15: Nationals Pre-Quarterfinals
    • 2006: 1 Win, 1 Loss
      • 6-5: Trouble in Vegas Semifinals
      • 12-15: Central Regional Finals
    • 2007: 2 Losses
      • 8-13: Centex Pool Play
      • 9-15: Central Regional Finals
    • 2008: 3 Losses
      • 9-13: Trouble in Vegas Pool Play
      • 9-11: Trouble in Vegas Semifinals
      • 10-13: Central Regional Finals
    • 2009: 2 Wins
      • 13-10: Stanford Invite Pool Play
      • 13-8: Central Regional Finals
    • 2010: 1 Win
      • 13-11: Stanford Invite Pool Play
    • 2011: 2 Wins, 2 Losses
      • 10-13: Warm Up: A Florida Affair Pool Play
      • 13-7: Warm Up: A Florida Affair Semifinals
      • 15-7: Stanford Invite Quarterfinals
      • 11-14: North Central Regional Finals
  • vs. Florida (2-8, 20%)
    • 2004: No Games Played
    • 2005: No Games Played
    • 2006 (Smith, Gehret, Gibson and the Rise of Florida): 2 Losses
      • 7-13: Trouble in Vegas Finals
      • 9-15: Centex Pool Play
    • 2007: 1 Win, 1 Loss
      • 12-10: Centex Quarterfinals
      • 14-16: Nationals Quarterfinals
    • 2008: 1 Loss
      • 6-15: Nationals Semifinals
    • 2009: 1 Win, 1 Loss
      • 10-8: Trouble in Vegas Pool Play
      • 13-15: Stanford Invite Finals
    • 2010: 1 Loss
      • 12-15: Nationals Finals
    • 2011: 2 Losses
      • 11-13: Warm Up: A Florida Affair Pool Play
      • 10-12: College Easterns Semifinals

From these statistics, you can see that CUT has a 3-4 Regionals record against the Hodags and is winless against both Florida and Wisconsin at Nationals (from 2004-2010). I asked Kinsey about the 0-2 record against Florida and the effect of the 3rd place finish at North Central Regionals on their Nationals seeding and he replied with the following:

“Florida, like everyone else we play, is another opponent. If we meet them at Nationals we will approach them like we do every team. We know we can beat anyone in the country, but as seen from Regionals, if we don’t play our game we can be beaten.

Simon Montague gets huge against Wisconsin at the Stanford Invite.


Seeding does not matter, because regardless of seed, you still have 4 pool play games against teams that earned the right to qualify for Nationals. Our outlook for Nationals is the same regardless of seed. We know we can compete with anyone, but the most important game is the next game. Nationals are the celebration of our season. Who we play, where we play doesn’t matter. All that matters is we go out and play CUT frisbee.”

Take a look at how CUT has performed over the past seven years against the other 19 teams that will be at Boulder this weekend:

Seed Team Name CUT’s (04-10) Record vs. CUT’s 2011 Record vs.
1 Pittsburgh 7-1, 87.5% 1-0, 100%
2 Colorado 8-6, 57.1%* 3-0, 100%
3 Florida 2-8, 20% 0-2, 0%
4 British Columbia 5-4, 55.6% 0-0, N/A
5 Harvard 6-3, 66.7% 3-0, 100%
6 Wisconsin 7-12, 36.8% 2-2, 50%
7 Oregon 5-3, 62.5% 0-0, N/A
8 Iowa 4-2, 66.7% 1-1, 50%
10 California-Santa Cruz 3-0, 100% 1-0, 100%
11 Virginia 2-0, 100% 2-0, 100%
12 Colorado College 0-0, N/A 0-0, N/A
13 Tufts 6-0, 100% 1-0, 100%
14 Texas 6-2, 75% 1-0, 100%
15 Washington 3-0, 100% 0-0, N/A
16 Whitman 2-0, 100% 0-0, N/A
17 Illinois 6-0, 100% 0-0, N/A
18 Stanford 4-6, 40.0% 0-0, N/A
19 Luther 3-0, 100% 0-0, N/A
20 Cornell 2-0, 100% 2-0, 100%

* I didn’t count a loss by forfeit.

Carleton finds themselves seeded 9th out of 20 within what many argue is the “Pool of Death”. CUT will have to go through tough competition in British Columbia, Harvard and Whitman squads and place at least third within Pool D in order to advance to bracket play. Carleton is not taking any team for granted as they push to grab the coveted bye to Sunday’s Quarterfinals. Though they appear to be stoic, this writer thinks that CUT is looking forward to a rematch with Harvard, who bested them in Pool Play of Nationals last year, 12-15. Stacked with eight members on the World’s Juniors team and six players who have played at Club Nationals, Carleton is looking to get to the finals for the third straight year and come away with another title. Keep an eye out for #4 Grant Lindsley, #13 Alex Evangelides, #11 Christian Foster, #17 Patrick Roberts along with the many young stars of Carleton.

In the end, statistics are merely talking points that make sports more interesting. I’m betting that Carleton’s experience, athleticism and skill will power them through competition this weekend.

Most importantly, hide your kids and hide your wives, because no one is safe from the CUT.

Statistics courtesy of Joe Seidler’s Ultimate History Page

Photos by Hugh Roberts

Comments Policy: At Skyd, we value all legitimate contributions to the discussion of ultimate. However, please ensure your input is respectful. Hateful, slanderous, or disrespectful comments will be deleted. For grammatical, factual, and typographic errors, instead of leaving a comment, please e-mail our editors directly at editors [at]