Sadly, I have a bias. Not sadly, I go to Saint John’s University. As such, you may notice that I know all of the names of SJU players and few from Grinnell or Beloit. It’s nothing personal, and I’m sure they are all wonderful people. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the recap!
Also, for clarification, this was a one day tournament
North Central D-III Regionals, while a week tardy due to poor weather and lack of field space, was no less competitive and heart wrenching than its D-I counterpart which took place in Madison a week prior. All right, that may be an exaggeration. Regardless, there was still some fantastic Ultimate played at Saint John’s University in the charming town of Collegeville, Minnesota, between Grinnell, Beloit, and the home team, the Saint John’s University Bad Ass Monks (BAM).
I know what you’re thinking. Three teams?! Why would a two-bid region only have three teams at Regionals? A variety of factors played a part in the trio coming together. Chief among them was the fact that Carleton GOP and St. Olaf both accepted bids to D-I Regionals, and the teams that were invited to replace them either couldn’t make the trip or did not care enough.
Temperatures were a balmy 60 degrees with little to no wind, and while there were some light showers for the early game, the clouds eventually gave way to sunshine. With almost optimal weather (in stark contrast to North Central D-I Regionals a week prior), teams could huck as they pleased, and did so often.
Beloit and SJU kicked thing off at 9 in the morning. Saint John’s came out a little flat, with three offside calls and multiple drops. Beloit took advantage of this, and pushed until Saint John’s took half. After that, John’s seemed to get it together and went on a run to finish the game with a 15-8 win.
Next was Beloit vs. Grinnell, and while I didn’t get to see much of the game, it appeared that Beloit’s small roster was exhausted from its game against Saint John’s, and Grinnell used this to their advantage, winning handily 15-6.
With both teams already guaranteed a trip to nationals, Grinnell and Saint John’s geared up for a game to determine who would be the Regional Champion. St. John’s, while starting slow in its earlier game against Beloit, would not do so against Grinnell. Five points in with the score 4-1 SJU, #33 Nihal Bhakta of St. John’s would sky for a score and follow it with a punch-spike, giving SJU even more momentum. Despite strong play from #15 Dennis Kuo and #11 Justin Chang of Grinnell, SJU would go on a run and not look back, finishing with a 15-4 win and as North Central D-III Regional Champions. Next stop for Saint John’s and Grinnell: Buffalo!