The Eighth Man

5 Minute Guide: Midwest Regional Championship

Credit: Mizzou Quidditch

Credit: Mizzou Quidditch

By Austin Pitts
Midwest Correspondent
Tyler Walker
Managerial Editor

This weekend the Midwest faces off to determine who will punch their ticket to Kissimmee in April and who will walk away reigonal champion. Our correspondents picked out their favorites to watch this weekend and a few storylines to follow.

award

MVP: David Becker
With beater being the most valuable position on pitch, it’s hard to imagine the MVP going to anyone other than the best beater in the region. Regardless of which team ends up winning the Midwest Regional Championship, the MVP award is David Becker’s to lose. A summer in MLQ added another dimension to the game of this University of Missouri beater, resulting in better positioning and better understanding of overall strategy. Combined with his speed, accuracy and catching ability, it’ll be more interesting to see if anyone can keep up with him this weekend, let alone surpass him in skill.

Rookie of the Year: Dominic Stelzer
Seeking is undeniably easier behind a great beater, but the ability to end games quickly is paramount to teams looking to make deep bracket runs. Dominic Stelzer has filled a hole Mizzou has had since their founding, providing a strong seeker who can throw multiple looks at snitches. He has been able to make catches through dives, jumps and utilizing a hand-fighting approach. The combination of good reach along with great athleticism has pushed Stelzer, and Mizzou, to the top of the region.

Credit: Minnesota Quidditch

Credit: Minnesota Quidditch

Eighth Man: Cody Narveson
Expect Cody Narveson to play a pivotal role as TC Frost chases the regional title. Narveson has been playing for seven years and gained experience at many positions, allowing him to play keeper, chaser or beater as the situation demands. So far this year, he has primarily focused on the quaffle game; if the offense needs a distributor for all their athletic quaffle players, TC Frost can rely on Narveson’s experience to put up points.  However he can also aptly fill the role of beater whenever Joshua Zemke needs a back-up.

Most Improved: Joshua Zemke
An addition from now defunct Minnesota Nice, Zemke has revitalized the TC Frost beating game. Largely lagging behind the rest of the region in past seasons, Zemke has been able to anchor the Frost defense while facilitating things on the offensive end. The transfer to Frost this year has Zemke playing his best quidditch ever and has been a huge reason for his team’s success. If the final ends up being TC Frost vs. Mizzou, the main story of the game will be the battle between Zemke and Becker.

Defensive Player: Justin Mitchell
Coming into the fourth year of his quidditch career, Justin Mitchell is barely known outside of his own team, the University of Kansas, let alone his region. But has quietly become one of the best point defenders around. Mitchell is able to stay in front of quaffle carriers with his speed and is a consistent tackler on any opposing drive, capable of laying monster hits. He has been a defensive stalwart for Kansas year in and year out, playing a large role from the start.

Credit: Cally O'Neill

Credit: Cally O’Neill

Coach: Paul Dvoracek
If University of Minnesota is able to snag one of the last bids, it’ll be thanks to the leadership of Paul Dvoracek. While logging minutes at keeper and as the primary ball carrier for the young team will be important for him, it’ll be Dvoracek’s ability to keep the team calm and manage in high-pressure situations that will be the key. The Three Trees zone requires a high level of discipline, and if this young group wants to continue the traditional success of Minnesota, they’ll need all the guidance they can get from their coach.

Breakout Players:
Jeremy Hoffman, Illinois State University, BeaterJeremy Hoffman has all the athleticism you would want from a top-level beater. In his second year, the Illinois State University player has made huge strides thanks to his season with MLQ. His experience with Indianapolis Intensity this summer will pay dividends for his team’s chances to qualify. Faced with Illinois State’s high turnover of beaters this season, Hoffman will likely play considerable minutes each game. While he may have the stamina to survive long games, his success as a breakout player will depend on his mental stamina and ability to handle the pressure for 12-plus minutes a game.

Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang

Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang

Cammy Lang, Marquette University, Chaser
Cammy Lang started gaining notoriety as a member of the 2016 rendition of Indianapolis Intensity. Lang was the only player to start every game for the North Division champions. She is a consistent target around the hoops; if the ball is within her reach, it usually means a goal for her team. Despite her height, Lang does a good job of making keepers forget about her around the hoops. While she will be able to consistently provide good positioning and skills near the hoops on Marquette University, it will be up to the ball carrier to effectively get the ball to Lang.

Melissa Madejczyk, Illinois State, Beater
Melissa Madejczyk made the original Indianapolis Intensity roster in just her first year of playing quidditch. Although she was unable to play for personal reasons, it is expected that in her second year on Illinois State, Madejczyk will only improve upon a solid foundation. Her versatility makes her valuable; she can also play chaser at a high level if the team depends on it. When Illinois State needs to move to a dual-male beater set, Madejczyk can move to chaser and prove vital on both offense and defense. No matter the headband, expect a lot of playing time for Madejczyk as Illinois State looks to return to the national stage.

Jesse Rennicke, TC Frost, Chaser
If it wasn’t for appearances in a few official games late last year taking away his rookie status, Jesse Rennicke would have been the choice for Midwest Rookie of the Year. This season, Rennicke has been one of the biggest contributors to Frost’s potent quaffle game. A dual-sport athlete in college, it would be hard to find anyone else in the region who can match his athletic prowess. His ability to drive through defenses in no bludger situations along with being near impossible to drive past has created problems for every team Frost has played this year. Expect this to continue at this weekend’s regional championship.

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Pool Replay
Each pool this weekend will provide at least one high-intensity matchup that the region has seen in the past: Kansas v. Illinois State, Mizzou v. Minnesota, and TC Frost v. Marquette. Last year, Kansas v. Illinois State and Mizzou v. Minnesota were the semifinal matchups at the regional championships. Illinois State won a nail-biter on the back of two Jeff Siwek snitch catches 90*^-60 and Minnesota won 120*-70 against Mizzou en route to a regional championship. Earlier this year, Minnesota gave Mizzou one of their two losses this year, with a snitch range victory at Kansas Cup 120*-80. In pool 3, TC Frost and Marquette square off in a rematch of their championship match at Marquette Fall Classic, with Marquette pulling to secure a tournament win at 70*-60. With bracket rankings at stake, these rematches will be a huge focal point in pool play.

Credit: Brianna Marian

Credit: Brianna Marian

Which Marquette will show up?
Far from their regional title-winning days, Marquette has been an enigma in the region for the last few years, highlighted even moreso by their performances this season.

A win against TC Frost shows the team’s potential. While they’ve shown the ceiling they can reach, Marquette also has a dangerously low floor, showcased by their out-of-range loss to RIT, a team that took one of the last qualifying spots at the Northeast Regional Championship. This weekend, what Marquette are we going to see?

While pool play presents games in which Marquette can do a mediocre job and still get a decent bracket draw, a down game on Sunday can be the difference between qualifying or heading down to San Marcos for Consolation Cup. As favorites entering the Midwest Regional Championship last year, Marquette imploded as a team and failed to grab a bid to US Quidditch Cup 9. In a year with the top of the region even stronger, will Marquette be able to come together and punch their ticket to return to Kissimmee?

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