The Eighth Man

Midwest Top Fives by Position

Keeper:

Hoops - Dani Palmer

Credit: Manic! Photography

 

 

1.) David Hoops (The Ohio State University)

Hoops is a tall keeper with an impressive leap. He is the leader of both his team’s offense and defense with his speed, quick reactions and overall understanding of the game. Hoops has pinpoint accuracy on passing and long shots that is unparalleled at the keeper position in the Midwest. But what makes him truly great is his unselfish play. Many teams have issues with elite players refusing to sub out. To combat this, Hoops subs out to set the precedent of playing as hard as possible knowing you have an equally capable sub waiting on the sideline. Also, you will never see him lose his competitive, positive demeanor. He never gets caught up in outside factors, and whenever a goal is scored he will immediately go on the offensive and challenge the opposing defense to get back and stop him before setting up and executing their offense.

 

2.) David Prueter (Central Michigan University)

Prueter has all of the same strengths as Hoops but doesn’t need to jump because he is just that tall. His defensive instincts are second to none, and he can read exactly where and when the opposing offense will pass or shoot. Those instincts coupled with his height and quickness make him an extremely dominant defensive keeper. On the other side of the ball, he is a great distributor and mid-range shooter. Along with his passing and shooting ability, he has a hockey background that makes him difficult to bring down. Prueter’s biggest downfall is that he throws from his elbow in more of a push motion. He seems to be an excellent mid-range scorer, but is an average long-range shooter because of this.

 

3.) Tyler Walker (Ball State Quidditch League)

Walker is an undersized keeper that has an incredible vertical leap and is an extremely physical player. He never seems to make an uncontrolled movement, and is the cog that makes the Ball State machine run. Everyone says that, as a whole, Ball State is an emotionally driven team. As much as that sentiment is true, Walker is a levelheaded leader that brings them back to earth when the emotions go awry. He has no true holes in his offensive game with, and is top notch at passing and driving to the hoops. The caveat to his offensive prowess is that he needs his teammates to be running on all cylinders so defenses can’t hone in on him. He also allows opposing offenses to beat him back to the hoops on occasional fast breaks.

 

4.) Jacob Heppe (Michigan State University)

Arguably the fastest player in the region, Heppe is very much an undersized keeper. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in every other aspect of the game. He is extremely athletic, and can make a play on most shots and passes. Heppe is also strong, and packs a punch for his body frame. Michigan State’s offense goes where he goes. The Spartans play him at keeper so he can have more freedom in fast breaks and control the offense. If he intercepts a pass or shot, he will be across midfield before the rest of the players have taken notice.

 

5.) Jordan Callison (Kansas University)

Callison is another tall, athletic keeper in a region that has its fair share of them. He has good shot blocking ability and excellent footwork that allows for strong defensive performances. With his size, Callison isn’t easy to bring down, but he isn’t much of a driver, and instead settles for the mid-range game more often. He has a very good shot from the mid-range area but seems to fall in love with it too much, leading to borderline selfish play.

 

Female Chaser:

Credit: Tim Adkins

Credit: Tim Adkins

 

1.) Meredith Taylor (Bowling Green State University)

The most talented, athletic female player in the region, Taylor can fill multiple roles on the pitch. She is an excellent off-the-ball player on both offense and defense. Her basketball background has taught her how to perfectly read and jump passing lanes to start a fast break for her team. Taylor’s speed and superior catching ability allow her to always be an outlet and passing option for her teammates. What goes unnoticed is her leadership, as well as her general knowledge of the game. Being a product of Bowling Green’s system, she has had the opportunity to learn from the most experienced female chaser in the region, Katie Milligan.

 

2.) Sara Makey (Ball State Quidditch League)

Makey is a big, power player that can tackle with some of the best chasers in the region. This tackling prowess leads to her being an exceptional point defender. Offensively, she can power through defenses and play of- ball, making her a very versatile threat. Her biggest weakness is her speed, which makes her susceptible to getting beat off-ball occasionally, but she can usually make up for it by using her size effectively.

 

3.) Jessica Banaszak (Ball State Quidditch League)

Banaszak is an athletic, well-positioned chaser that is excellent at playing off-the-ball defense as well as playmaking on the offensive end. What Makey lacks in speed, Banaszak makes up for. Her man-to-man defense is smothering, and she more or less shuts down opposing chasers. She isn’t the greatest at jumping passing lanes to intercept passes, but she makes up for it by taking players out of the offense completely. Offensively, she can drive by opposing defenses and is solid at dodging/blocking bludgers. Banaszak makes her teammates better around her, and is always playing as hard as she can.

 

4.) Katie Milligan (Bowling Green State University)

As stated above, Milligan is the most experienced female chaser in the region. She uses this knowledge to lead her team through crafty and smart play. Milligan might not be the biggest, fastest or strongest player, but what she lacks in those attributes she makes up for in heart and determination. You will never see her back down from a player, and she will always stick her nose into the most physical situations only to come out stronger and more determined than ever.

 

5.) Caroline Villa (Marquette University)

Villa was a huge part of Marquette’s success in the Midwest last season. Unfortunately for her and the rest of her team, most of that team has gone out the door, leaving her essentially at the helm. But, if anyone can lead Marquette back to its former glory, it’s her. Villa is fast and extremely smart. Her shot selection is incredible, leading to a high shooting percentage. Villa’s biggest weakness is her trouble transitioning from wing player to point player with her new team.

 

Male Chaser:

1.) *Daniel Daugherty (Bowling Green State University)

Daugherty is still the best chaser in the Midwest and, depending on who you ask, the best in the game. He runs a great point and has evolved from a player that was simply an explosive dunker to a great passer, long range sniper, and field general. His defense is underrated; Daugherty gets physical and will wrap up his opponent. He’s not the strongest, but he can slow opponents down. He also has great shot blocking instincts when in at keeper. One of the two craziest things about Dan is his signature move, which is that he has the ability to jump over bludgers thrown at his chest. This, combined with his explosiveness and range, makes him an all-around lethal scorer in addition to distributor. Surprisingly, he often doesn’t start for Bowling Green. Instead, he gets brought in after a few minutes to prey on partially tired defenses. It’s not out of the ordinary for him to rattle off four goals or assists after coming into a game.

(Editor’s Note: This blurb was written by Daniel Shapiro)

 

2.) Colby Soden (Kansas University)

The best point defender in the Midwest, Soden is physically gifted and understands exactly when and how to tackle any and all opposing chasers. He is also quick on his feet, and can recover to get back in front of any chaser that gets a step on him.  This allows him to stop smaller and quicker players that generally get by any defending chasers.

He is an incredible teammate and will never be one to fight for the limelight. His main focus is winning and making his teammates better around him. Although Soden has a wide variety of skills, he is an average catcher at best. Catching is definitely the part of his game that he must continue to work on to reach his full potential.

 

3.) Andrew Axtell (University of Michigan)

Axtell has the build of a hard hitting football player, and he plays exactly that way. Whether on offense or defense, you can be sure that if he has a chance to run you over or tackle you to the ground, he will. Last year, he was the only offense that Michigan had, and they still competed with the top tier teams in the Midwest. This season, there is word that he won’t have to play hero ball as much, and that is a scary thought for the rest of the regio. Even with all of his strength, Axtell can switch to quick, accelerated bursts that allow him to get by most defenders. He is the epitome of an all-around player and, based on results last season, he would have been the Most Valuable Player of the Midwest with how often he carried Michigan on his back.

 

4.) Jeremy Boettner (The Ohio State University)

It will take a while for the world to take notice of how skilled Boettner really is, but we’ll do our best to sell him now. Boettner is an exceptional catcher and has a second gear when it comes to speed. He stays within the offense, and that leads to him generally going unnoticed. He is a taller, lanky player that can catch and shoot over most defenders. Boettner gives defenses fits because he never stops moving when off the ball. He is the best off-the-ball male chaser in the region and Ohio State uses that skill perfectly.

 

5.) Devon McCoy (Ball State Quidditch League)

If we had to sum up McCoy in one word, it’d be beast. McCoy is an emotionally driven power player that can and will take anyone down, both on offense and defense. His ability to be a physical presence on the pitch is second to none in the region. Coupled with his signature colored contacts, he is an intimidating player that tries to use the psychological factor to his benefit. Even though he is the baddest player the Midwest has to offer this season, off the pitch, he is one of the nicest, classiest players around.

 

Female Beater:

1.) Ashley Calhoun (Central Michigan University)

Calhoun is the second best beater in the entire region behind Chad Brown. She is incredibly aggressive and has the best accuracy of any beater I have ever seen other than Asher Abramson from UCLA. I witnessed her beat an opposing chaser from 15 feet away with the bludger hitting him square in the back and bouncing straight back to her for an easy catch. Even with her aggression and her accuracy, what makes her such a threat is her communication and leadership. She is, unquestionably, the leader of the Central Michigan beaters, and everyone in watching notices her constant communication with her beater partner and everyone else on her team. She is, by and large, the glue that holds Central Michigan’s defense together.

 

2.) Julie Fritz (The Ohio State University)

Fritz is a physical specimen. She has countlessly out worked her teammates and her opponents in the gym, and it shows on the pitch. Her ability to take bludgers from opponent, beat the opposing player in a foot race, and withstand physical play is a testament to her work ethic. Fritz is also incredible at regaining bludger control by catching bludgers thrown at her. She is the beater captain of her team and succeeds in being a smart, team oriented player. Her biggest weakness, if any, is her mid to long range accuracy. To make up for this weakness, she does a nice job of holding onto her bludger and only making very calculated throws and beats.

 

3.) Tina Kinstedt (Miami University)

Kinstedt’s teammates call her “Tank”, and for good reason. She has incredible endurance that allows her to continuously play at a high level for long periods of time. She is physical both when she needs to get bludger control back and when she needs to retain bludger control. She covers a lot of ground quickly, which fits greatly with her good aim. Kinstedt is an all-around solid, trustworthy player that anchors Miami’s defense in a big way while demonstrating no true weaknesses.

 

4.) Melinda Staup (Ball State Quidditch League)

Staup is the ultimate coach’s player in that she will play with a disregard for her body. Her aggression and will for each loose ball makes her a nightmare for opposing beaters. She communicates with her beater partner extremely well, and ensures that they are one unit with a shared purpose. Although Staup does all of the little things right, she lacks elite accuracy, and it sometimes works out in the opposing team’s favor. Even with her average accuracy, Staup has had to be the only top tier beater on her team in several big games this season, and she has stepped up to the challenge every time.

 

5.) Cara Leach (Bowling Green State University)

Leach is a smart beater who has done a fantastic job of learning her team’s strategy and running it to the best of her ability. She also works well with every other beater on the roster. She is a great teammate and in working with her partner, can maintain and regain bludger control with the best of them. Although she is rarely caught out of position, Leach doesn’t have elite speed, which can result in problematic positioning. Along with her lack of speed, she also gets caught up in the ref’s calls – or lack thereof – and sometimes needs to sub out to regain her composure.

 

Male Beater:

1.) Chad Brown (Bowling Green State University)

The leader of an all-around strong beating core for Bowling Green, Brown returns with more experience against the highly touted Southwest beaters. There is none better in the region at getting bludger control back. His aggressive play generally puts opposing players on their heels, which allows him to dictate the game. He communicates to his beater partner and understands how to control the game from the beater position. His greatest strength strongest strength, though, is his play when the snitch is back on the pitch. Brown has proven his worth by shutting down top seekers from across the country time and time again.

 

2.) Trevor Campbell (Ball State Quidditch League)

Campbell is a big, strong presence on the pitch with a very physical game. When going to try to regain bludger control, he is ready and willing to lay a big hit on the opposition. His communication is another huge strength for him. He commands his defense and ensures that he and his beater partner are on the same page at all times. Campbell is the most important component of a very good Ball State defense that boasts a top five keeper in Tyler Walker. As stated about Ball State as a whole, Campbell is an emotionally-driven player that sometimes allows outside forces to affect his game. Some people play better when they are angry, but it seems like he gets more frustrated and plays worse. But, even when angry, Campbell is better than most beaters in the region.

 

3.) Andrew Derry (Central Michigan University)

Derry is in no way the leader of Central Michigan’s beater core, but he has the ability to compliment it extremely well. His speed and accurate beats work perfectly within the system he plays in. He is a great teammate and an amazing scholar of the game. You can always count on Derry to be in the correct position. While he lacks the leadership trait right now, he easily could become a leader, he just doesn’t have to while teammate Ashley Calhoun is around.

 

4.) Doug Whiston (Kansas University)

Whiston definitely doesn’t have the physical gifts that the other beaters on this list have, but he makes up for it with incredible knowledge of the game. He is the beater strategy guru of the Midwest region. His positioning is always spot on, and the defense as a whole can always count on him to be where he needs to be to make crucial beats. But, of course knowledge can only get you so far, and that is why he isn’t higher up this list. He will out think any beater in the region, the question is, can he out play any beater in the region?

 

5.) Logan Phelps (University of Toledo)

Phelps is the only first-year player to make this list due to the splash he has made in the tournaments Toledo has participated in this year. He is incredibly fast, and has great accuracy. For an upcoming Toledo team, it is extremely important to have a beater that can cover a lot of ground, and that is exactly what Phelps is for his team. On the downside, he lacks aggression at this point in his career, and, therefore, has trouble regaining bludger control on his own. Once he learns how to play without a bludger, Phelps will be a top tier beater for years to come.

 

Seeker:

 

Credit: Kansas Quidditch

Credit: Kansas Quidditch

1.) Keir Rudolph (Kansas University)

Rudolph’s best attribute is his freakishly long arms, which can reach around any snitch, regardless of size. He is also incredible at boxing out other seekers to keep them from catching the snitch. These two things coupled together make him absolutely lethal when given a shot at the snitch in a no-bludger situation. He is the most reliable seeker when it comes to one on one, seeker vs. snitch. Rudolph is the main difference between Kansas underperforming at Midwest Regional Championship last fall and them living up to high expectations come World Cup in the Spring.

 

2.) Sam Roitblat (Bowling Green State University)

Roitblat is a smaller but quick seeker that understands the seeker game better than anyone else in the region. He also is the most decorated seeker in the Midwest with his catches over seeker phenoms Steve DiCarlo, Harry Greenhouse and David Moyer in last year’s World Cup. Roitblat also knows how to box out opposing seekers and he can make quick movements to the snitch that throws the snitch runner off guard.

 

3.) Mitch Boehm (The Ohio State University)

Boehm is a fast, elusive seeker that isn’t the biggest or strongest player. He is, however, extremely crafty, and utilizes every movement that the other seeker and the snitch make to his advantage. Also, he takes what the snitch does and plays off of it, similar to the old basketball mantra, “take what the defense gives you”. Ohio State also does an incredible job at keeping Boehm fresh while having a 3 or 4 seeker rotation. This also gives him the opportunity to watch the other seekers, whom all have separate strengths and weaknesses, and read what is and isn’t working to formulate his own plan of attack.

 

4.) Jack Norgren (Michigan State University)

Norgren is a black belt in karate and has extremely quick hands. He has top-notch endurance and seems to never lose his high-tempo style no matter how far into a tournament he is playing. The big thing about Norgren is he seems to have peaked and has stayed at the same level for the past year. The seeking game is constantly evolving, and he has been falling behind in the past few months at a position where he used to be at the top of the region. Despite plateauing, he is still the go-to seeker for the Spartans. With all hands on deck offensively, Norgren will be asked to shoulder much, if not all, of the seeking duties this season, and he could very easily surprise.

 

5.) Robert Morgan (University of Michigan)

Morgan is a tall, lanky seeker that is an incredible teammate. He is most well-known for his childish demeanor, but don’t let his light-hearted antics fool you; he is a strong competitor with inspiring pep talks for his team before every game. Morgan then backs up his talk with great performances thanks to his long reach and sneaky play. He is extremely underrated, and has somehow gone unnoticed in this region for a good chunk of time. His talent and leadership speak for themselves, and it is time for Morgan to be recognized.

 

Alexis Moody, Meredith Taylor and a pinch of Daniel Shapiro contributed reporting to this article.

 

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