With contributions by Jeff Gilbert of Lehigh
This weekend’s Ohio Valley D3 Regionals, which will be hosted by Kenyon College in Gambier, OH, will likely bear little resemblance to last year’s version.
Absent are the Swarthmore Earthworms, who qualified convincingly for Nationals in 2011, and the Franklin & Marshall Hucking Amish (formerly Deep Blue), who fell to Lehigh in last year’s game-to-go. Key additions, however, are Kenyon SERF and the Dickinson Jive Turkeys, two teams that decided to go D1 last year and had respectable results at regionals, with Dickinson nearly upsetting national quarterfinalist Pittsburgh in pool play.
Date: April 28-29
Location: Gambier, OH
# of Bids: 1
Kenyon SERF (1st seed in Pool A)
Key Wins: South Carolina (15-6), Emory (11-9)
Key Players: Jordan Rhyne, Ian Kenison, Sam “Brooklyn” Ross
Despite graduating captain and standout Russell Wallack, who now competes for Boston’s elite open team Ironside, SERF has had a successful season with impressive wins over both D1 and D3 competitors. Ever since they decided to go the D3 route this year, Kenyon has been the hands-on favorite to earn the region’s sole bid to nationals. In that respect, it almost seems unfair that Kenyon also has the luxury of home field advantage at this weekend’s tournament. How much more help does the fourth-ranked D3 team in the nation need? The answer might be more than you think; Kenyon narrowly escaped conferences with a win in the finals, needing three straight breaks to overcome Ohio Northern 11-10 in the championship game. With this result in mind, you better believe that many teams this weekend will be looking to upset SERF and earn their spot in Appleton.
Ohio Northern Darkside (1st Seed in Pool B)
Key Wins: Case Western Reserve (12-11)
With only four losses on the season and the number 18 ranking in D3, Darkside has certainly had a lot of success this spring and nearly earned a strength bid to nationals for the Ohio Valley. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gauge how they will fare at regionals and perhaps at nationals, given their tournament schedule; ONU has played only one team outside of the state of Ohio all spring (Western Kentucky, whom they beat 13-3). Although they have been successful against these teams, it’s difficult to place them above a team like Kenyon that has had significant wins over teams from all around the country. Also potentially concerning is ONU’s early 14-15 loss to Oberlin at the first game at conferences; with a competitive field, it may be difficult for Darkside to recover from an early loss in pool play. That being said, they are the only team in the region to have proven themselves against Kenyon so don’t be too surprised if Sunday’s final game is a rematch of the Ohio Conference Championship.
Lehigh (2nd Seed in Pool A)
Conference: East Penn
Key Wins: Swarthmore (12-11)
Key Players: Nick ‘Falcore’ Mathinson, Tom ‘Sonny’ Levene
Lehigh, which qualified for D3 nationals the last two years, finds itself in a familiar situation as it looks to go for three straight. Despite graduating over half of last year’s roster, Lehigh has proven that the building year they anticipated could still be a year of fierce competition and success. The season was far from perfect, including a few narrow losses against teams like Catholic, Johns Hopkins and Duke. Fresh off a conference performance in which they were really only tested once, Lehigh is one of the three non-Ohio teams competing in this weekend’s tournament.
Denison DFUC (2nd Seed in Pool B)
Key Wins: Case Western Reserve
Key Players: Scott Sivright, J.D. Sheets
A talented and athletic team, Denison suffers from the same problem as Ohio Northern: of the teams they’ve played this season only one, Michigan-B, has been from outside the state of Ohio, which it makes it difficult to forecast their regional and national prospects. Denison has a 2-1 record against fellow regional competitor Ohio Wesleyan, but DFUC has been unable to beat ONU this season, having lost to Darkside five times, twice at conferences two weeks ago. They will get a chance to play both teams in pool play and perhaps the sixth time will be the charm for Denison.
Messiah Mammoth Rebellion (3rd Seed in Pool B)
Conference: West Penn
Key Wins: Dickinson (15-2)
After an up and down season, Messiah caught fire at the West Penn Conferences and really proved its worth, going 6-0 in pool play and capping the weekend off with an absolute thrashing of Dickinson in the championships. As one of the three teams outside of Ohio, it will be up to the Mammoth Rebellion to prove that the region is not as imbalanced as it appears.