The Eighth Man

Turning a Cold Shoulder: Midwest Fantasy Teams Brave Wintry Conditions for Shot at Title

In what promises to be a frigid tournament, we will hope to see some players emerge as stars just in time for World Cup VII. Playing in the nasty, unpredictable Midwest climes, everyone in attendance will not only be up against the opposition but also Mother Nature.  Here are my thoughts on every team competing in the tournament, and some notable players to watch out for.

 

Pool A- Red, Purple, White, Maroon, Blue

 

Red Team (All teams listed in order of draft pick, players who have dropped were excluded)

· (GM) Luke Changet, Beater, Team Ohio

· Jeremy Boettner, Chaser, The Ohio State University

· Kevin Fennel, Chaser, Michigan State University

· David Wilber, Chaser, Central Michigan University

· Danielle White, Beater, Michigan State University

· Jacob Bobeldyk, Beater, Michigan State University

· Alyssa Marassa, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Brandon Booth, Keeper, Central Michigan University

· Matt Mignery, Keeper, Miami University

· Nicole Lauhon, Chaser, Central Michigan University

· Phillip Dindal, Beater, Mighty Bucks

· Rebecca Bennett, Beater, Central Michigan University

· Seve Moralez, Chaser, Central Michigan University

· Tarra Craig, Beater, Illinois State University

· Jacob Hook, Unknown, St. Mary’s College

· Lauren Harper, Unknown, St. Mary’s College

· Jennifer Berkey, Beater, Mighty Bucks

 

I have gone on record saying that Changet is “arguably the best quidditch mind in the Midwest.” Going into these types of tournaments, you can always count on him being one of the most prepared people in the draft room. He set his sights on getting a great male chaser in the first round, and he got just that in Jeremy Boettner. Boettner is an absolute stud whose biggest asset is his versatility on offense, being able to be the main quaffle carrier or play off the ball. Partner him with Kevin Fennel and David Wilber, and you have a formidable line of male chasers. Although talented and strong, I do question how well these three can play together, with Fennel and Wilber being predominantly players who drive and Boettner being a great player within Ohio State University’s pass-first offense.

Beyond these three, you have Danielle White as Changet’s main beater partner. Based on my conversations, I strongly believe he got exactly who he wanted in his girlfriend and a player I assume he has played with multiple times since they live together at Michigan State. I definitely had White on my draft board, but I also had about a handful of female beaters listed above her. That being said, Changet is easily a top-five male beater at this tournament – even a semester removed from competitive play – and their chemistry will be a strength this team could run with. Other notables include Jacob Bobeldyk and Matt Mignery. Both are solid role players who can get the job done when the focus shifts to the big-name players.

 

Purple Team

· (GM) Will Hack, Beater, Michigan State University Alumni

· Chad Brown, Beater, Bowling Green State University

· Griffin Engel, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Krystina Packard, Beater/Chaser, Michigan State University Alumni

· Nic Dziadosz, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Katie Kiercznski, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Kevin McCoy, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Kiera Fisher, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Niko Banks, Chaser/Seeker, Michigan State University

· Maria DeNunzio, Beater, Michigan State University

· Bobby Casler, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Erin Moreno, Beater, Ball State University

· Jacob Watson, Beater, Ball State University

· Cameron McCartney, Chaser, Indiana University South Bend

· Nicole Bush, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Gnoli Raynor, Beater, St. Mary’s College

· Gabby Hidalgo, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

 

Halfway through this draft, we were all calling Hack’s team, “Chad and Michigan State.” Hack has proved time and time again that he values male beaters above all else, and he chose arguably the best one in the region in Chad Brown. Brown has anchored Bowling Green State University’s defense for over a year now, and can put on a show, even with one bludger. Even more impressive than his ability to shut offenses down without bludger control is his play when the snitch returns to the pitch. Holding off elite seekers such as David Moyer, Harry Greenhouse and Steve DiCarlo at last year’s World Cup are just a few cases of his dominance at such a crucial part of the game.

Beyond Brown, Krystina Packard is a veteran player who can easily control a game from either the female chaser or female beater position. When she is in at beater, she and Brown should make a lethal combination. Hack will be putting a lot of pressure on Griffin Engel and Nic Dziadosz to carry the offensive load for his team, as he doesn’t appear to be very deep in players who can put points up on the board consistently. An aspect that might be able to make up for the team’s lack of playmakers is its overall team chemistry. Having a bunch of players from one team could be a key for this team early on, when other teams are trying to mesh together. Ultimately, I think this team will have trouble scoring, but might be able to keep some games close enough for Brown to excel during the snitch game.

 

White Team

· (GM) Dan Snyder, Beater, Michigan State University

· Dan Shapiro, Chaser, University of Missouri

· Stephanie Raudenbush, Beater, Miami University

· Meyessa Mansour, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Brett Smith, Chaser, University of Missouri

· Sara Delongchamp, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Stephen Riccardi, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Jake Hall, Beater, Michigan State University

· Taylor Korte, Beater, University of Missouri

· Zach Polack, Keeper, Miami University

· Jayne Consolo, Chaser, Miami University

· Jeremy Seiler, Chaser, Eastern Michigan University

· Lauren Kelley, Beater, Michigan State University

· AJ Schlesinger- Beater, Illinois State University

· Emily Patterson- Beater, Central Michigan University

While the first pick of Dan Shapiro met some criticism, the captain's feel the white team still has a shot at the title. Credit: Megan Korte

While the first pick of Dan Shapiro met some criticism, the captain’s feel the white team still has a shot at the title. Credit: Megan Korte

With the biggest surprise of the first round, Snyder chose Dan Shapiro with the fourth overall pick of the draft. I had him as someone I was going to think about taking come the fourth or fifth round depending on how things went, so, needless to say, I think Snyder may have reached on him quite a bit. The only way I see this being justified is because of Shapiro’s versatility on the quidditch pitch. When I first met him a year-and-a-half ago at Quidcon, he was almost exclusively a keeper. Since that point, he has gone on to play every other position he is capable of playing. Currently for Missouri, he is mainly a chaser, but he played male beater at Canada’s fantasy tournament and seeker just recently at Snow Cup. Along with his versatility, he is also a great motivator and captain, and I expect Snyder to utilize him as his “right-hand man,” so to speak.

After the Shapiro pick, Snyder picked up two solid female players in Stephanie Raudenbush and Meyessa Mansour. I don’t think they are the best players at their respective positions, but they are definitely solid, consistent players.  Pairing with Shapiro is Brett Smith, Shapiro’s teammate at Missouri. Smith is an above average player who can do a little bit of everything. With these four players, Snyder has a solid core group but not much beyond that. At first sight, this team appears to be a lot of players who excel in specific roles. But nobody stands out as an on-pitch leader, which might pose a problem for this team.

 

Maroon Team

· (GM) Amber Harmon, Chaser, Central Michigan

· Jack Norgren, Seeker, Michigan State University

· Zak Hewitt, Keeper, Bowling Green State University

· Jeremy Ferlic, Beater, Miami University

· Tina Kinstedt, Beater, Miami University

· Christin Gostola, Chaser, Red Cedar River Monsters

· Ryan Altenbach, Chaser, Ohio University

· Andrew Copeland, Beater, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

· Adam Landis, Chaser, Central Michigan University

· Ethan Balog, Chaser, Ball State University

· Alexis Palmer, Chaser/Beater, Ball State University

· Joe Fluegemann, Keeper, Bowling Green State University

· Jordan Boley, Beater, Michigan State University

· Dane Davis, Chaser, Webster

· Hannah Mueller, Beater, Illinois State University

· Tatum Beaton, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

· Ted Zinzer, Beater, Notre Dame College

· Jiamin Lang, Beater, Mighty Bucks

· Tatum Clarke, Beater, St. Mary’s College

 

Going into the draft, I thought Harmon was, by far, the least experienced GM in terms of both playing and knowledge of the attending players. Once the draft concluded, I realized she either did her homework or got extremely lucky with her picks. I am going to go with the former. Eighth Man Editor-in-Chief Ethan Sturm wrote a great article on what to value most in fantasy drafts, which highlights the importance of a top-tier seeker. In a tournament where every team is essentially given the same chance to succeed, someone that can pull out close games is invaluable. Unfortunately, this tournament only has two true seekers in Jack Norgren and Samuel Roitblat, of Bowling Green and, in this tournament, the Black Team. With Roitblat, one of the best seekers in the game, off the board after the first pick, Harmon was very smart taking the next best seeker in Norgren. Norgren is a proven seeker that has been playing the game for a few years now.

After Norgren, Harmon made six great picks in a row. Zak Hewitt is a high energy, physical player that has fast break potential and is a stout defensive keeper despite his size. Jeremy Ferlic and Tina Kinstedt are solid beaters who have played together for over a year now and will have strong chemistry. The two of them with Andrew Copeland, a smart and easily adaptable beater, pose a solid beater core. Lastly, adding Christin Gostola and Ryan Altenbach to the offensive attack with Hewitt should prove effective for Harmon. I expect this team to make a deep run in bracket play.

 

Blue Team

· (GM) Kayla Pohl, Beater, Red Cedar River Monsters

· Kori Marvin, Chaser, Red Cedar River Monsters

· TJ Sassorosi, Chaser, Red Cedar River Monsters

· Ali Markus, Chaser, Ball State University

· Tyler Rafferty, Keeper/Seeker, Free Agent

· Nick Sorrentino, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Sarah Walsh, Chaser, Michigan State University Intramural

· Evan Hoopingarner, Chaser, East Lansing High School

· Derek Wright, Beater, Red Cedar River Monsters

· Stephen Kersey, Beater, Falcon Warriors

· Colin Richards, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Elena Keller, Chaser, Mighty Bucks

· Mel Walker, Chaser, Michigan State University Intramural

· Andrea Rose, Chaser, Miami University

· Michele Williams, Beater, Indiana University South Bend

· Victoria Toomajian, Chaser/Beater, Michigan State University Intramural

 

Pohl has been essentially been given the kiss of death afted her first pick of the draft, Ashley Calhoun, dropped out of the tournament. It goes without saying the magnitude of losing your number one pick, let alone someone as dominating as Calhoun. She is the epitome of a leader on the pitch in her play and communication. Her beater partner never has any doubts about what she is doing, and she makes sure of that. With skill and leadership like Calhoun possesses, she instantly makes whoever beats with her much better. And all of that is what Pohl will now be missing.

Not helping her cause, I believe Kori Marvin as a second round pick set up to be her best chaser is a questionable decision. He is an incredible athlete and player. but it seems she reached a bit on him here. Other than Marvin, she has TJ Sassorosi, Tyler Rafferty, Ali Markus and Nick Sorrentino, who are all solid players, but none are standout talent. One thing she does have is a surplus of Red Cedar River Monsters’ players. We will see what that chemistry will do for them. As one last note, Rafferty is on par with Changet in the most knowledgeable quidditch people in the Midwest, and it will be interesting to see how Pohl utilizes his knowledge of the game to improve her team here

 

Biggest Questions from this Pool

Can Changet’s great chasers be great together?

Does the combination of arguably the best beater in the tournament and chemistry lead to success for Hack’s Purple Team?

Can Snyder utilize all of his players in the correct way to allow them to excel in their respective roles?

Can Norgren live up to the billing of the best seeker in this pool?

Who, if anyone, will step up to take the shoes of a number one pick for Pohl?

 

Now this is where I mixed things up a little bit. The following table and predictions were put into multiple surveys and given to all 10 of the general managers, and the table survey was additionally given to David Hoops and Matt Dwyer. To quote the great Family Fued: “And the survey says…”

Aspect of the game

Advantage to…

Keepers

Maroon Team

Male chasers

Red Team

Female chasers

White Team

Male beaters

Purple Team

Female beaters

Maroon Team

Seekers

Maroon Team

Coach

Red Team

Prediction:

1.) Purple Team
2.) Red Team
3.) Maroon Team
4.) White Team
5.) Blue Team

*Note: Purple and Maroon tied for highest average ranking but Purple had more second place votes (with both tying in first place votes).

 

Pool B- Black, Navy, Gray, Light Blue, Green

 

Black Team

· (GM) Mike Johnsen, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Samuel “Sunshine” Roitblat, Seeker, Bowling Green State University

· Mac Randolph, Keeper, Ball State University

· Michael Reed, Chaser, Indiana University South Bend

· Danielle Anderson, Beater, Ball State University

· Sarah Knowlton, Beater, Indiana University South Bend

· Alexander Matheny, Beater, Falcon Warriors

· Jeffrey Siwek, Keeper, Illinois State University

· Tiffany Hu, Seeker, Miami University

· Christian Piatek, Beater, Ball State University

· Quiana Douglas, Chaser, Falcon Warriors

· Devin Clark, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Katie Sanders, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

· Taylor Arndt, Beater, Illinois State University

· Erin Betman, Beater, Michigan State University Intramural

 

With the number one pick of the draft, Johnsen got as much value as she could. Roitblat is, by and large, the best seeker at this tournament, and with only one other true seeker in Norgren, Roitblat was an easy choice. With an incredible success rate against top seekers in the game, including Harry Greenhouse, Keir Rudolph, Steve DiCarlo and David Moyer, Roitblat gives Johnsen and his Black team a huge advantage against every other team in their pool. That being said, Johnsen’s team will need to keep the game within range to allow their top seeker an opportunity to be a game changer.

There is a lot of pressure on Johnsen himself to carry the offensive load, especially with third-round pick Andrew McGregor dropping out, and the team will also be looking to Mac Randolph is another quaffle player who will be looked to for some scoring. He is a very-talented, versatile player, but coming from Ball State, where he doesn’t need to be a scorer, it will be interesting to see if he can step up to the challenge. Looking further down his roster, you have two capable female beaters in Danielle Anderson and Sarah Knowlton, but his top male beater is Alexander Matheny from the Falcon Warriors. Knowing Matheny myself, I can attest to his enormous potential and skill for having only played a semester, but it will be a challenge for him to see if he can compete with top notch male beaters from across the region. But, after travelling all the way to Cocoa Cup two weeks ago, no one can question his commitment to improve.

 

Navy Team

· (GM) Alex Scheer, Chaser/Seeker, University of Toledo

· David Prueter, Keeper, Central Michigan University

· Ben “Snowman” Ackland, Chaser/Keeper, Michigan State University

· Jim Richert, Beater, Michigan State University

· Samantha Elgin, Chaser, Bowling Green State University

· Shelby Atkinson, Beater, Michigan State University

· Michael March, Chaser, Miami University

· Rachael Firehammer, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Josh Bolen, Beater, Indiana University South Bend

· Taylor Hahn, Chaser, University of Toledo

· Dylon Scribner, Chaser, University of Toledo

· Brandon Ollio, Chaser/Beater, Michigan State University

· Lauren Hutchison, Beater, Miami University

· Logan May, Chaser, Indiana University South Bend

· Meghan Kautman, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Marisa Enos, Chaser, Central Michigan University

 

Scheer took an absolute gamer with his first choice. An emotional, talented player like David Prueter can take over a game when given the chance. He is, in my opinion, by far the top keeper in this draft, which gives Scheer impressive value considering he didn’t get to choose until the fifth pick overall.

With his next pick, it became apparent that Scheer took conditions into account, as Ben Ackland didn’t just adopt the coldness, he was born in it, molded by it. I would venture to say he didn’t feel warmth until he was already a man.

For his female players, Scheer has the feisty Samantha Elgin and the smart, reserved Shelby Atkinson. Elgin has the abilty to pester opposing players on defense by being relentlessly scrappy. She will never back down from a player. Atkinson, intelligently paired up with fellow Spartan Jmi Richert, will need to have bludger control in order to be effective. There are definitely better beater duos out there, but Scheer undoubtedly has a capable one.

 

Gray Team

· (GM) Matt Eveland, Beater/Seeker, The Ohio State University

· Julie Fritz, Beater, The Ohio State University

· Brian Neibecker, Chaser, Miami University

· Eric Wasser, Keeper, University of Michigan

· Rebecca Pollak, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Gavin Kyle, Beater, The Ohio State University

· Ian Hoopingarner, Chaser, Michigan State University

· Kelsey Franklin, Chaser, The Ohio State University

· Nathan Graber, Chaser, Miami University

· Daniel Cull, Chaser, Mighty Bucks

· Natasha Pascal, Chaser, Miami University

· Ian Books, Keeper, Ball State University

· Travis Hammock, Beater, Mighty Bucks

· Amy Vennemeyer, Beater, Miami University

· John Crowe, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Ryan Scott, Keeper, Ohio University

· Katherine Louth, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

· Chloe McColgan, Beater, St. Mary’s College

 

Eveland is back at it again, pairing himself with his co-captain and beater partner Julie Fritz. Fritz is a physical specimen at the female beater position, and can control a game with her defense-first attitude. He then continued to draft eerily similar to how he did in the summer by picking a strong defensive team. But, that all changed when it came to his sixth pick, where Eveland miraculously found Ian Hoopingarner still on the board. And that isn’t even the best steal he got. Five picks later, he took Ian Books, arguably the steal of the draft. With his defensive-minded approach, along with two late offensive juggernauts in Hoopingarner and Books, Eveland has a team to be reckoned with. On top of all of that, he has proven to be just as capable of a seeker as almost anyone. This will be a tough team to get an edge on in all facets of the game.

 

Light Blue Team

· (GM) Daniel Daugherty, Chaser, Bowling Green State University

· Trevor Campbell, Beater, Ball State University

· Greg Smolkovich, Chaser, Bowling Green State University

· Melinda Staup, Beater, Ball State University

· Katie Milligan, Bowling Green State University

· Josh Ebbesmeyer, Keeper, University of Missouri

· Chris Fisher, Chaser, Central Michigan University

· Erin Kelly, Chaser, Ball State University

· Cody Narveson, Keeper, University of Minnesota

· David Pray, Keeper, University of Minnesota

· Jenna Rindler, Beater, Bowling Green State University

· Branden Grimes, Beater, Miami University

· Jessica Morrison, Beater, Ball State University

· Joseph Totten, Chaser, University of Minnesota

· Makayla Manta, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

· Austin Pruyn, Chaser, Illinois State University

· Kylie Ayers, Beater, Michigan State University Intramurals

· Holly Bronson, Chaser, Michigan State University Intramurals

· Cahlia Lanier, Chaser, Michigan State University Intramurals

While he might not have the name recognition, Ball State's Trevor Campbell may be the one male beater capable of hanging with Chad Brown.

While he might not have the name recognition, Ball State’s Trevor Campbell may be the one male beater capable of hanging with Chad Brown. Credit: Ali Markus

And here we have my team. Being a chaser myself, I highly valued a male beater and took one of the top two on my draft board. Trevor Campbell is, in my mind, the only male beater that can contend with Brown in the discussion of best in the Midwest. He has the physical attributes to go with his immense knowledge of the game. I then paired him with Melinda Staup, his Ball State counterpart and an overall underrated female beater. The two of them have played together at many tournaments, and I hope that their chemistry will pay dividends for me. I also got them some depth with Jenna Rindler. Rindler will soon be a well-known star in this region and others, having just recently travelled to Cocoa Cup, where she made waves with her performance.

As far as quaffle players go, I paired myself with my fellow Falcons, Katie Milligan and Greg Smolkovich. Smolkovich is a gifted athlete with a superb eye in the passing game. Milligan has been playing this game for four years and her understanding of gameplay never ceases to amaze me. Then you have Josh Ebbesmeyer, Chris Fisher, Erin Kelly and Cody Narveson, who all play integral parts on their respective teams. Ebbesmeyer is the leading scorer on the World Cup qualifying Missouri team, Fisher is an off-ball specialist who plays best when playing in a pass first offense, Kelly is an all-around solid female chaser, and Narveson was the main keeper from the winning team of the summer’s Midwest Fantasy. If my team can come together chemistry-wise, we should be a force to reckon with.

 

Green Team

· (GM) Tyler Walker, Keeper, Ball State University

· Meredith Taylor, Chaser, Bowling Green State University

· Sara Makey, Chaser, Ball State University

· Phillip Asmar, Utility, Illinois State University

· Tyler Frederick, Beater, Michigan State University

· Eduardo Lozano, Chaser, Mighty Bucks

· Meagan Vinci, Chaser, Miami University

· Joshua Zemke, Beater, University of Minnesota

· Matt Jass, Chaser, University of Minnesota

· Rebecca Sampson, Chaser, Ball State University

· Ashley Murphy, Chaser, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

· Emily Flores, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

· Helen Kovach, Chaser, St. Mary’s College

· Jennifer Redfern, Beater, Down River Dragons

 

Walker made it very clear the route he wanted to take in the draft with his first two picks, grabbing the best two female chasers in the region in Meredith Taylor and Sarah Makey. I have long wanted to see these two play together, because I strongly believe they have complimentary skills. With Walker’s elite play at the keeper position, they already had a formidable quaffle-player line only two picks in.

Walker then picked Central Michigan’s best male beater in Andrew Derry and the versatile Kevin Conboy, and followed it up with a few other strong male beater picks. Unfortunately for Walker, Derry, Conboy and Polack have since dropped, leaving his lineup extremely depleted. In following this strategy, he chose only one female beater, and chose her with his last pick of the draft. He has a plethora of female chasers, and it will be interesting to see how well this strategy works at a fantasy tournament, especially since he has lost quite a few of the males that were going to be key cogs in it. Still, Walker seems to have made the best of his situation, and we’ll see what he can manage this weekend.

 

Biggest Questions from this Pool

Can Johnsen’s Black team keep games close enough for Roitblat to use his magic?

Can Scheer’s team last the longest in the frigid weather?

Will Eveland’s two steals of the draft lead his team to a championship?

Does my team have enough chemistry to combine talents and be a force?

Will Walker’s very apparent strategy work even with his depleted roster?

 

To repeat what I put as a precursor to Pool A’s table and predictions, this is where I mixed things up a little bit. The following table and predictions were put into multiple surveys and given to all 10 of the general managers as well as David Hoops and Matt Dwyer.

 

Aspect of the game

Advantage to…

Keepers

Navy Team

Male chasers

Lt. Blue Team

Female chasers

Green Team

Male beaters

Lt. Blue Team

Female beaters

Gray Team

Seekers

Black Team

Coach

Navy Team

Prediction:

1) Light Blue
2) Navy
3) Gray
4) Green
5) Black

I then took the average rankings of the surveys for Pool A and Pool B respectively and got the following standings going into bracket play:

1) Light Blue
2) Navy
3) Purple
4) Red
5) Maroon
6) White
7) Gray
8) Green
9) Black
10) Blue

Utilizing these standings, I created a bracket and had the general managers vote on who would win each matchup until we arrived at a champion.

 

Play-in Games:

(7) Gray defeating (10) Blue

(8) Green defeating (9) Black

 

First Round:

(1) Light Blue defeating (8) Green

(5) Maroon defeating (4) Red

(6) White defeating (3) Purple

(2) Navy defeating (7) Gray

 

Semi-Finals Prediction:

(1) Light Blue defeating (5) Maroon

(6) White defeating (2) Navy

 

Finals Prediction:

(1) Light Blue defeating (6) White

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