The 2014 College Tour is presented by:
Skyd is excited to offer more coverage, previews, and personal pieces specifically about the D-III Women’s division this college season. The smallest of the four divisions, the ladies representing D-III ultimate teams play high quality ultimate with serious intensity and deserve sufficient coverage. Skyd will be reporting from two D-III events on the 2014 College Tour (sponsored by Spin Ultimate): Midwest Throwdown, and the new Women’s division at D-III Warm Up.
One of the great things about this division and college ultimate in general is the rapid development of new teams and programs, which always makes the season a surprise. Here’s a first look into what’s possible for 2014.
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#1 Valparaiso “Chicks Hucking Discs”
Valparaiso has experienced huge success in their fall season, battling D-I opponents like Wisconsin’s Y team and emerging victorious. Their team has height and a lot of ambition, and it’s looking to be the year that Valpo’s Chicks Hucking Discs finally make it to the finals after taking third place at four consecutive appearances at D-III Nationals. The league as a whole had better watch for Erin Watkins, Teryn Gehred and Ellen Guisfredi to rip up the endzone and lead CHD to new levels in 2014.
#2 Carleton “Eclipse”
Carleton returns in 2014 with a strong group of veterans and flexibility on offense and defense thanks to hard training in the fall. Playing X-Y with DI powerhouse Syzygy at several tournaments has amped up their intensity and helped prepare for the competitive season. Captains Kalli Perano, Claire Leichter , and junior Julia Reich scored and assisted over 40 points for Eclipse at the 2013 championships and are definitely players to watch during the competitive season.
#3 St. Benedict “Bad Habits”
With only two seniors graduating last year, this is a prime year for the Bad Habits. Erynn Schroeder played at the 2012 Junior World Championships and has a great dynamic with other power players Kaylee Mathews and Kelsey Peterson. St. Ben’s has serious potential for this competitive season, combining a very strong universe point line with a large new recruiting class–several of whom have youth ultimate experience. The Bad Habits are likely to stay in the top 16 for years to come.
#4 Claremont “Greenshirts”
The Greenshirts are expected to be very good this year. They will once again have the talents of Tasha “Lefty” Arvanitis (WJUC ’12) who was out for the ’12-’13 season, and they picked up Jodie “Skull” Palmer, a U23 player from Australia. Also, Marianna “Banxx” Heckendorn and Sarah “Joey” Laws have stepped up in a huge way during their sophomore seasons. Typically competing against California’s big D-I teams, watch them play other D-III championship contenders at D-III Warmup on February 8th and 9th – part of the 2014 Skyd College Tour.
#5 Bowdoin “Chaos Theory”
Last year’s champs graduated a lot of leaders on the field, but captains Mik Cooper and Clare Stansberry have developed a new style for their current strengths. One such strength is sophomore Ana Leon who represented the USA at U20 Junior Worlds in 2012. She also won USAU’s 2013 Freshman of the Year award after her performance in the D-III Championships last year. This year’s squad has over 50 players, and Bowdoin is hand-picking an elite travel team for large sanctioned tournaments this spring.
#6 Williams “La Wufa”
Although the 2014 Williams team doesn’t hold the huge height advantage that it did in past years, the return of captain Meg Clark and Oxford club player Sivahn Barsade, along with the results of their fall season, bode well for La Wufa. With lots of new players but still maintaining a strong backbone of experienced leaders, this will be an exciting year to watch Williams in the northeast region and on the national stage.
#7 Truman State “TSUnami”
Only losing to Purdue University during the fall season, TSUnami had an impressive showing at last year’s Nationals. They ended the championships tied for 7th place, but also earned the Spirit Award–proving once again that along with great ultimate comes a true understanding of the Spirit of the Game. TSU comes to the competitive season this year with several All-Region candidates, including Jessica Derry, Jen May and Stephanie Sherman.
#8 St. Olaf “Durga”
St. Olaf’s Durga missed out on 2013 Nationals due to a tough section that includes Grinnell, St. Ben’s and Carleton. For 2014, however, they seem poised to work their way to natties this year after competing against tough Wisconsin D-I teams and thoughtfully splitting A-B for the spring season. The North Central region should watch out for Lauren Hagen, Laurel Oswald and Beret Amundson, who made waves at the 2012 Championships and want to return before they graduate.
#9 Bentley “Wobus Salt N’ Peppa”
Wobus took names this fall season, playing well in the competitive NE region. Regularly facing up against the top D-III Women’s teams of 2013, Bowdoin and Williams, they have developed a reputation of their own. Their numbers have been growing rapidly, allowing them to foster a successful B team program. Watch for Bentley’s senior Christine Westgate this spring.
#10 Georgia College “Lynx Rufus”
A small team in a small D-III region, Lynx Rufus brings enthusiasm and surprising intensity to the field. They’ve gained a good amount of new rookies this year who are learning skills and strategy at exponential rates as well as growing to love the game. Keep an eye on their captains Katie Pulliam and Paige Carver, who played for Atlanta Bucket together, to develop some great ultimate players.
#11 Grinnell “Sticky Tongue Frogs”
Grinnell has become a staple figure at D-III Nationals, having attended four times in total. The Sticky Tongue Frogs have a tough competitor in Kirsten Nelson, and height and speed in Beth Clarke and Carissa Shoemaker. Watch for them to put up a fight at Midwest Throwdown, part of the 2014 Skyd College Tour, when they face other top-tier Nationals contenders Valparaiso and Carleton.
#12 Elon “Wild Rumpus”
Elon’s Wild Rumpus has done well this fall season, consistently beating the D-III teams in their section. Due to the small size of the region, if they continue to be as successful as they are currently, they will again win their region’s bid to the 2014 Championships. Keep an eye out for senior Maureen Dougherty, who is a constant threat on both defense and offense. Also, expect to see Julie Rodriguez as a key cutter on Wild Rumpus.
#13 Haverford “Sneetches”
This team was absent from Nationals last year, but with an impressive fall season complete with wins against D-I schools at their home tournament, we may see them end their hiatus in 2014. They have a serious offensive advantage on the field with speedy Fern Beetle-Moorcroft and 6’0 senior Iris Lippert pulling discs out of the sky from where few others can reach.
#14 Mary Washington “Mary Massacre”
Unless Mary Massacre can finally gain the upper hand against Elon, history is likely to repeat itself for Mary Washington and they’ll win the second Atlantic Coast bid to Natties. This year, they are led by captain Fiona Curtis, a field hockey player who is a highly effective cutter on the ultimate field as well.
#15 Messiah “Mastodon Revolution”
Messiah’s fall season may indicate a potential Nationals bid–especially if the Ohio Valley region gains extra bids from the NW Region as it did last year. Keep a close watch on Sarah “Hulk” Hogan and Angela Martin, who have been honing their skills through club teams. Mastodon Revolution has made it their goal to qualify for Nationals this year, and Sky’d is excited to see how and if they’ll get there.
#16 Oberlin “Preying Manti”
(Disclosure: the author plays for Oberlin) The Preying Manti took the Ohio Valley region by a storm last year as they went undefeated through Sectionals and Regionals. Though they graduated a lot of key “universe line” players last year, they have gained some talented freshmen and are currently led by captain Allison Fulton, a YCC graduate and 2013 All-Freshman and All Region nominee. Though the road might be tough, they remain a serious contender for the Ohio Valley bid to Columbus this spring.
Feature photo of Valparaiso by Nick Lindeke – Ultiphotos.com