This weekend 9 D-III teams from the South Central region clash in Kansas City, MO. Like the Southwest, South Central sends one bid straight from Conference Championships to D-III Championships. Among these 9 teams, these top 4 have a chance to grab this bid.
Harding Apocalypse (Skyd Feature)
Key Wins: Washington University, St. Olaf, Kansas St, Purdue, Alabama
Key Losses: Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, Arkansas
Summary: Harding started off their season rough, as usual, losing two games on Saturday of T-Town Throwdown. However, since then, Harding has been rolling through competition, placing 3rd at T-Town, 5th at Big D in Little d, 2nd at HUX, and finishing the regular season placing 1st at Huck Finn. Look for senior handlers Ryan Rummage and Taren Goins to take care of the disc with Tucker Bankston leading his group of veteran cutters on the offensive side of the disc. Junior Nick Doores leads a young, energetic defensive line that loves to swarm to the disc and make plays. Harding didn’t lose a single player after the 2011 season, which has allowed them to have distinct offensive and defensive lines for the first time in the history of their program. With a load of experience and athleticism, Apocalypse is not only the favorite to win this tournament, but they are the first ranked DIII team in the nation and likely the first seed at DIII nationals.
Truman St. JujiTSU (Skyd Feature)
Key Wins: North Park x2, Northwestern
Key Losses: Grinnell, St. John’s, Nebraska-Omaha
Summary: From looking just at their record, it might not seem like Truman State is the strongest team. But the people who have seen them play can tell you that their record doesn’t reveal what they are capable of. They have played against a lot of higher level teams such as Illinois, Luther, and Penn St. On the other hand, they have played some mediocre teams that they should have posted better results against. Truman’s game is based around two key players, Senior Alex McClure and Sophomore Tim Fergus. Alex McClure is a very athletic cutter that uses his 6’3” frame to make plays in the air as well using his experience to make plays with the disc in his hands. Tim Fergus made a soaring presence his freshman year and hasn’t stopped since. Tim uses his speed to always get open as a handler, and then, from there, he has a wide variety of throws at his disposal to power Truman State’s offense. Truman State’s biggest issue is the lack of solid talent to surround these two studs. If their 3-7 can step up, play clean O, and hard D, JujiTSU is capable of putting up some strong victories.
Record: 11-5 (only 2-3 sanctioned)
Key Wins: Kentucky
Key Losses: Occidental, Purdue
Summary:There were some last minute scares, with Air Force possibly having to drop out of the tournament. However, I am told that they are now officially competing. With only one tournament this Spring, Air Force is a relative unknown in this conference. However, they seem to playing with a ton of experience. Their roster shows only 3 underclassmen (all sophomores), whereas everyone else is an upperclassmen or graduate student. This experience is likely to be invaluable for them at Conference Championships. On the other hand, Air Force has not played enough games for us to get a sense of their quality as a team. Air Force has only attended two tournaments, and in neither did they play quality opponents. They ended the season with a 1st place finish at Kentucky Classis beating Kentucky 13-12 in the finals. Look for Air Force to try to get a bid to D-III Championships by using their stamina to finish the tournament strong.
Missouri S&T Miner Threat
Key Wins: Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Steven’s Point
Key Losses: John Brown, Loyola-Chicago
Summary:For the past few years, Missouri S&T has been a consistent force in the conference, and last year they even placed 3rd in the DIII championships. However, after graduating a lot of players, they haven’t had the season that they had hoped for. Captain Jesse Jacobs is the star of Miner Threat. He is a highly energetic player who uses his lanky body and speed to bid through people and get to the disc. The team’s performance will ride on his back. If he’s playing well, Miner Threat could make it so semis or even finals; if he ‘s not, Miner Threat could have a tough weekend.
In 2011, the South Central region sent three bids to D-III Championships last year: Truman State, Missouri S&T, and Harding. Upon arriving in Buffalo, these three teams showed SC dominance by all placing in the top 7. However, this year, with large graduating classes and new teams around the nation entering D-III, it has been a different story. From game one of conference championships, the pressure will be on for each team to prove their dominance, and make it to the top 2 of each pool. On day 2, things only get harder, as just one loss will result in elimination from grabbing the one and only bid to D-III Championships in Appleton. Out of the teams attending SC D-III Conferences last year, Air Force finished highest, placing 2nd behind Colorado College. This year, the team to beat is Harding. Harding has held strong all season, sitting atop the Skyd D-III rankings since the very beginning. However, Truman State and Air Force aren’t teams to be taken lightly. Look for them to give everything they have against Harding on Sunday. Harding has the talent to remain strong and take the bid, but, like I said, it only takes one loss on day 2, and the top ranked team could have an early ending season. This is definitely a DIII tournament to watch.