The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: Oklahoma State

This post was written by Alex Wilson of Arkansas.

The Oklahoma State University quidditch team is wrapping up its second year of competition with a bid to the World Cup. Throughout the year they’ve taken second place in both the Oklahoma Quidditch Kickoff and their own Cowboy Cup, which is especially impressive considering they were coming off a one-win first season. Before SW Regionals they competed mainly in the Oklahoma/Arkansas area, competing against WC qualifiers Kansas and Arkansas. At regionals they went 1-2, coming third in their pool before falling to Arkansas 200*-40 in the qualifier. In the consolation bracket, they won over the Denver Dementors and Sam Houston State University to earn a bid to WCVI before losing the consolation finals to Roadrunner Quidditch.

Best Wins: vs. Sam Houston State (70*-30 Feb 23rd)

Worst Losses: vs. Arkansas (40-200* Feb 23rd)

Key Players: One of their new players this year, Hayden Applebee has been an immediate bonus for Oklahoma State’s chasers. Coming from a strong football background, the physicality he has brought to the team has been very much a part of their wins this year. He is an excellent defensive player with good tackling skills, but can also power through defenders for tough goals. Subbing in as a reserve seeker, he caught both snitches in the consolation bracket that decided the outcome of those games.
Paired at chaser is Connor McEwan, also of a football background from the same high school as Hayden. Where Hayden has size and strength, Connor excels at speed and receiving. He is adept at dodging and blocking bludgers, and can then sprint to the goals faster than the opposition’s defense can set up. Due to his speed, he can make teams pay by closing to the hoops and making a shot even when hit.

Players to Watch: A reliable seeker, Mark Woolard is the captain of the team and a tenacious seeker. At regionals, his teams was pushed out of snitch range for the most part, so he didn’t get much of a chance for a quick grab, but you will be hard-pressed to find a smarter and faster seeker than him, and he will often go for a grab while the snitch is grappling with the other seeker.
Laura Ortman is the team’s beater captain and the definition of a student of the game. She does a great job of managing the field and being where she needs to be to make crucial beats. She’s very smart and can make adjustments quickly, making it difficult for opposing teams to score and keep bludger control.

Strategy: Oklahoma State runs a slow offense. They will set up on their opponent’s keeper zone and try to get the upper hand, ready to capitalize on any mistake by the opposing team. When an opposing team’s beater misses a beat, they try to close to the hoops fast. They also like making passes to the sides and back of the hoops, letting the chasers crash inward. On defense, they like to make contact early and cover the running lanes.

Weakness: Oklahoma State’s biggest weaknesses are depth and physicality. Besides Connor and Hayden, the rest of the team simply doesn’t have the size necessary to take down some of the larger players from around the league, and without subs that can do that the first string tires quickly. They will also be without one of their more physical players, their starting keeper, for WC.

Strengths: Oklahoma state has a solid defense that has kept quality teams well below their average. As a team they do a good job of drawing games out and getting within snitch range, which can be dangerous if people underestimate them. They rally well and are very mentally tough which can bode well for them if they can play good defense on the snitch and make the game continue when the other team is breaking down.

Prediction: Unfortunately, the Cowboys have a tough draw, with UCLA, BGSU, and Rochester in their pool, not to mention the unknown Paris Phenix. I predict that they will be tired after UCLA in the morning and finish 1-3 to their more experienced and storied opponents, not making it to bracket play, though if they are underestimated they could pull an upset.

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