The Boys and Girls of Summer: Margo Aleman

Nicole Harrig

The Boys and Girls of Summer is a new series featuring less heralded players making names for themselves over the course of the fantasy season. We start with the recently crowned West Fantasy MVP, Margo Aleman.

In the quidditch community, it is farfetched to imagine an elite seeker remaining more or less unknown for nearly an entire season. For an elite seeker on a World Cup winning team, it would seem almost impossible. Throw in the looks of a model and above-average chasing ability, and you might start believing this person couldn’t even exist.

And yet that is exactly what Margo Aleman has done over the last 10 months. He burst onto the scene as a member of the University of Texas – Austin squad in the fall, but managed to remain almost completely out of the national conscience until World Cup. And even then, many people believed it was just Kenny Chilton making all of the Longhorns’ snitch grabs.

But this slow discovery story isn’t just the story of Aleman, it’s also a story of the Texas quidditch program, and really all major quidditch programs, and what keeps them ticking, year after year. Because while this may have been Aleman’s first season with the schools’ first team, he’s been playing quidditch for four years, starting out in the Longhorn’s club system and getting his first taste of competitive quidditch years ago as part of a merc team of UT system players that traveled to a tournament at Texas Tech, the same tournament at which Kody Marshall debuted.

However, Aleman’s route to quidditch notoriety would be nowhere near as direct as Marshall’s. After failing to make the team for the 2012-13 season, Aleman played much of the year for Austin Quidditch. It was only then that he truly dedicated himself to the sport, a desire to improve that has carried all the way through to this summer.

Aleman finally joined the Longhorns for the 2013-14 season. But even this season, as he has for much of his career, he saved the best for last. After Texas breezed through bracket play and took down Austin Quiddtich in the Round of 32, Texas faced a murderer’s row of opposition the rest of the way: No. 10 Maryland, No. 6 Baylor, No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 5 Texas State. And while it would be unfair, and untrue, to say that the Longhorns didn’t outplay each of these teams, there were still three SWIM situations across the four games, three situations where a lesser seeker could have spelt the end of the team’s championship run before it ever began. Aleman didn’t flinch, scoring winning grabs over Maryland and Texas A&M before catching the snitch that defeated Texas State and made Texas back-to-back champions.

From there, Aleman was off and running, signing up for three of the sport’s four major summer fantasy tournaments. At Midwest Fantasy, he was a second round pick for Daniel Shapiro, and repaid him with a 3-1 SWIM record and a trip to the semifinals, where his streak in SWIM situations was broken by Ball State’s Blake Fitzgerald. But even more impressive than his number of catches was how quickly he was coming away with them, making most grabs in under a minute.

Undeterred by his semifinal disappointment in the Midwest, Aleman traveled to West Fantasy, where he was a 290 galleon pick for Michael Binger. He quickly proved the pick worthwhile, dragging the team kicking and screaming to the semifinals with impressive chasing and another 3-1 SWIM record, including a two-grab game in pool play. For his efforts, Aleman was awarded the MVP of West Fantasy.

Add it all together, and it comes out to a 9-2 SWIM record in competitive play over the last four months, with a World Cup Championship and a West Fantasy MVP award to his credit as well.

So how does he do it? Well, Aleman’s go-to technique at seeker is both simple and refined. Take a look at this video, which includes two of his World Cup grabs:

In both catches, Aleman dekes with his right arm before throwing his left arm around the back of the snitch. At least, that’s all that’s noticeable at normal speed. Because, in actuality, the right arm deke contains the slightest of arm grabs, just enough to reduce the snitches ability to move backwards. It’s why in both grabs you see the snitch end up spinning rather than backing up: he’s attempting to, but one side of his body is being held in place.

Arm Grab 1

Could you say that the move borders on illegal? Probably. But almost every snitch grab in quidditch does, and something so minute is never going to get called. It’s an incredibly effective move not only because it’s tough to defend against but because it can be pulled out while charging, approaching, or grappling with the snitch. This allows Aleman to end games out of nowhere, especially against snitches that aren’t experienced in playing against him.

Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Aleman’s impressive season with the team was also his only, as he graduated at the end of the season. No one seems to be sure what Aleman’s plans are for the fall, but any team lucky enough to have him would gain one of the game’s top five seekers. But the new season is still over a month away, and with Southwest Fantasy still to come, the summer of Aleman is far from over. So let’s all just enjoy the ride.

Finding the Black Sheep at Black Swamp

The Black Swamp Fantasy tournament, hosted at Bowling Green State University, kicked off the fantasy season with a novel drafting premise. But the tournament shone not just in novelty but in execution as well, with a fun but competitive nature, a smooth running schedule, and beautiful weather.

The way that drafting worked was that in each round general managers got to choose a position and a number. The number referred to a random player at that position, who was then added to the team. Following the draft, each GM was allowed to make trades, with no rules or limits to what they could do.

In the end, we had Trevor Campbell’s Blue Team, the heavy favorites coming out of draft night, managed to take the tournament. The results fell like this:

 

Trevor Campbell (Blue) 6-0, 1st place

Meredith Taylor (Orange) 4-2, 2nd place

Alexis Moody (Green) 2-3, 3rd place

Tyler Walker (Purple) 1-4, 4th place

Joseph Hackney (White) 0-4, 5th place

(Note: What started off as Joseph Hackney’s White Team ended up being Alex Scheer’s Red Team.)

But instead of focusing on overarching reviews of each team, I thought that, this early in the fantasy season, it’d be best to focus on some lesser-known players that stood out on the pitch this weekend and could be difference makers in tournaments later in the summer.

 

Zach Rupp (Ball State, Blue Team)

Rupp is an absolute tank. I have played against him during the school season, but Devon McCoy, who is largely a similar player, has always overshadowed him. Playing against him at this tournament proved to me that he deserved some recognition himself. This tournament featured quite a few hard hitters, including Dylan Schepers, Eric Wasser, Travis Fannin, Gabe Unick, Mike Pascutoi, Malek Atassi, Andrew Axtell and McCoy, but, of all those names, I can easily say that I felt Rupp’s presence on the defensive end the most. He hit early, often, and hard. On the offensive end, he ran through defender after defender for easy scores. All in all, Rupp is a solid player that will definitely be turning heads this season with McCoy moving on to Blue Mountain Quidditch Club.

 

Travis Fannin (Ohio State University, Red Team)

Take this in: Fannin is 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, and that is basically just his beard. Fannin is an a behemoth on the pitch and he’s making huge strides towards being more consistent as he gains more and more experience. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of the tournament in their second game when my heel caught his nose – sorry again Travis! – but before that happened he was really getting a chance to shine in a big role on an overmatched team. I would have loved to watch him be able to get more minutes in such an integral role, but, nonetheless, he should be a big contributor for the Buckeyes this coming season.

 

Gabe Unick (Grand Valley State University, Orange Team)

At a tournament full of strong seekers, Gabe Unick stood out. Credit: Amy Utley

At a tournament full of strong seekers, Gabe Unick stood out. Credit: Amy Utley

Unick was the most efficient seeker at this tournament. He didn’t have the best track record coming in, those merits go to 2012 Team USA seeker Tyler Macy and 2014 Team USA seeker Sam Roitblat, who were both in attendance, but he caught every snitch, and he did so quickly. There would be times where Roitblat, who was on the same team, would come up short on a lengthy shift, only for Unick to catch it within the first few opportunities. On top of his seeking excellence, Unick played great on point defense and above average as a wing chaser on offense. There’s no doubt his utility was vital to Taylor’s team’s finals run.

 

Zach Schepers (University of Michigan, Orange Team)

Another member of Taylor’s Orange Team, Schepers was the best beater on a team that many originally said was weak at the position. When Schepers was in, he physically dominated the opposition and controlled every aspect of the game. Michigan has always had solid beaters with Zach Schepers, his twin brother Dylan Schepers, and Lisa Lavelanet, and they will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

 

Krystina Packard (Blue Mountain Quidditch Club, Purple Team)

“K-Pack” is back, and in a big way. After taking two years off – outside of the occasional fantasy tournament, Packard will be joining BMQC for this upcoming season. The biggest question mark facing the newfound team, aside from the typical community team problems, is where they will get female production from. Packard answered the question loud and clear at Black Swamp outperforming all but one or two other female chasers. I didn’t see her much, but when I did, her performance jumped off the pitch. To paraphrase David Hoops, he was excited to see how BMQC players were looking this tournament, and, largely due to the way Packard played, he came away very impressed.

 

Malek Atassi (University of Michigan, Purple Team)

Though Andrew Axtell is graduating, Malek Atassi shows promise in filling his shoes at Michigan.

Though Andrew Axtell is graduating, Malek Atassi shows promise in filling his shoes at Michigan.

Atassi is a defensive force. He has a strong body and can take down anyone. He doesn’t have the greatest lateral quickness, but as long as there’s a beater around to keep the ball carrier honest, Atassi will easily take himdown. On top of being a good defensive player, he also can barrel through a lot of defenses. Along with his ability, he has the wherewithal to know when to drive and when not to. Beaters must stay alert when he has the quaffle. Although he doesn’t have the pure athleticism or speed that Andrew Axtell has, he should fill in nicely for Michigan next season when given a larger role.

 

Juliet Slutzker (Bowling Green State University, Walker’s Purple Team)

Somehow, Slutzker has found a way to go under the radar while playing quidditch for nearly four years. She started off at the University of Michigan, and has, luckily for me, found her way to Bowling Green for grad school. Her knowledge of the sport supersedes anyone that isn’t already lauded for his or her experience. Black Swamp was her first fantasy tournament ever, and it was a chance to see just how well she can adjust to a system, as well as to her value as a player. She is fearless and aggressive while always putting pressure on the opposing team. Expect analysts, including myself, to overlook her time after time this coming year while she continues to be a productive and integral part to Bowling Green’s beating corps.

 

Pari Yost (Bowling Green State University, Moody’s Green Team)

The region got a small taste of the potential Yost offers this past season. She is tall, athletic and extremely intelligent in her positioning and execution. She easily averaged two or three goals a game at Black Swamp while being fed by Andrew Axtell and David Hoops. While her offense was great, her defense was even better. Using her tall frame and basketball IQ, she shut down wing chasers on an extremely consistent basis. She may not be the best female chaser in the region, but she was the best on this day, mainly for the way Alexis Moody used her on the pitch. All of Yost’s skills were on display, and it was a strategy that Bowling Green will likely try to mimic in the coming season.

 

Andy Hopkins (Blue Mountain Quidditch Club, Moody’s Green Team)

To be fair, Hopkins never has gotten mentioned in the Midwest before now because he has never played in this region before this tournament. That being said, the region better be on the lookout for him next year. He is a conservative beater, but he plays the role exceptionally. He, with the help of beater partner Julie Fritz, could retain bludger control better than anyone at this tournament. Doing so helped keep games close, and no one pulled out of snitch range on this team until Orange Soda learned to capitalize on the conservativeness of the beater duo. If BMQC puts an aggressive beater out on the pitch with Hopkins, expect them to make a lot of noise in the 2014-2015 season.

Midwest World Cup Roundtable

Credit: Harry Clarke

Credit: Harry Clarke

In recent weeks, interesting tournament results has thrust Midwest quidditch into the national spotlight. Now, days before the World Cup, we sat down a variety of players from across the region to talk about the good, the bad, and what the region is capable of at World Cup.

What Midwest team do you think makes the deepest run?

Samy Mousa (SM): In order, I would say the three that have the highest probability of deep runs based on their favorable pools are Bowling Green, Michigan State and Minnesota.

Alexis Moody (AM): Definitely Bowling Green and Minnesota, with Michigan State and Central Michigan also having the capability of going far. Bowling Green, Minnesota and Michigan State all have great seekers capable of making a grab in SWIM situations, while Central Michigan has a stifling defense and high octane offense to keep it close with the best.

Daniel Daugherty (DD): I completely disagree with Minnesota. The way I see it, even if they do well and win their pool, they could end up with a 2nd seed Southwest team in the Round of 32. The Southwest has plenty of experience playing against a zone defense like Minnesota runs, and I don’t see Minnesota as comparable to Baylor at all.

Alexis Moody: I agree that an early Southwest matchup in bracket play will lead to an early exit for the Gophers, but Minnesota has a pair of highly underrated athletic seekers who could prove vital in SWIM games. Realistically, Bowling Green is the one most likely to make the deepest run, but Minnesota, Michigan State, and Central Michigan all have the talent to do something big depending on their matchups.

Tyler Walker (TW): Michigan is another team I think has all the tools to make a deep run. They have tough, physical chasers, and their beating/seeking game is solid to say the least. They, along with Central Michigan, have plenty of physicality to be able to hang with any of the Southwest if they are met early on in bracket. The only thing that could really set them back is the unfortunate fact of being in almost everyone’s pool of death. They really could be exhausted after having to play probably the hardest trio of games of any Midwest team in pool play.

Luke Changet (LC): If anything can be learned from Northern Arizona, Lost Boys, Bowling Green, and Kansas last year, it’s that seekers fuel deep runs, and that beaters fuel seekers. I’ll agree tentatively that Michigan State is poised to make a deep run. We have a good pool for it, comparatively, but defensively can struggle. We have the seekers and beaters for it, but I wonder if our chasers can hang with top teams and keep them from putting points on the board.

I strongly disagree that Michigan is poised to make a deep run. They have below average seekers and below average beaters. Andrew Axtell and Batzer are the only reasons they’re in a lot of games, and once teams key in on that, which they will in bracket play, Michigan is done for.

I’m with Dan, I don’t see any kind of deep run from Minnesota. There’s a lot of hype around them after B1G/MAC, but remember that they were blown out by Michigan State at regionals, when there wasn’t a foot of snow acting as an eighth defender for them. I highly doubt the snow will be there in Myrtle Beach. As far as the original question, I’m going with Bowling Green. They have the beaters to control a game, the seeker to finish it, and the chasers to compete with anyone.

 

Which Pot One or Pot Two team will disappoint most?

Samy Mousa: Ohio State is given a rough situation to fight out of, I wouldn’t be shocked if they were a little battered and bruised come bracket time.  Likewise, Michigan State has the highest potential for disappointment, especially if they can’t get through that Arkansas game.

David Hoops: Michigan has the pool that could make it either the positive surprise or the negative one. Like the other Pot One-to-Four teams in that pool, I could see UM go 1-3 almost as easily as 4-0. NYDC has probably more star power and talent but less physicality, the Blacktips have Andy Abayan, who is a massive wild card analytically, and Austin Quidditch can match Michigan’s physicality and isn’t afraid of playing more experienced squads.

Alexis Moody: I love Ball State almost as much as I love Bowling Gren, but they got the short end of the stick with their pool. I think every single team could be competitive with the other, especially if Sam Houston gets motivated. Couple that with the disappointing results this semester, and pool play could end up disastrous.

Dan Daugherty: I am going to agree with Alexis. Minnesota might be a Pot One team, but they are a lot like Arkansas in that people feel that they don’t necessarily deserve it because of their showing at regionals. Even though Minnesota didn’t lose to any lower tier teams like Arkansas did, I still see their ranking being a bit of an anomaly.

Also, David, the fact that you can see Michigan going 1-3 or 4-0 means that 1-3 could easily be predicted. That being said, if they lose to a second team like Austin Quidditch, no matter how good people say they are, I will be severely disappointed. But I simply don’t think that will happen. I hope that doesn’t happen.

Then there’s Ball State. I think they just got an extremely difficult draw based on how they stack up in their pool. I think Emerson plays a style that will pose a problem for them, while Northern Arizona is such a great team in SWIM situations that they might be able to pull off that upset.

Tyler Walker: I think that it has to be Kansas. They are going to easily make it to Sunday, but one of two problems will come up. The first is that their seeking game has taken a hit. I know I am beating a dead horse, but it’s a fact that without one of the most reliable seekers in the country the, Jayhawks could have been knocked out of regionals by Marquette in the quarterfinals. Or by Michigan State in the semis. The second is the Pot Three team they drew. I think they have actually improved at chaser with the swap of Hai Nyugen for Colby Soden, but Jordan Callison is too much of a hit to that quaffle game. Richmond has hung around all year with the top tier of the Mid Atlantic, and Kansas will not have enough to separate themselves in that game.  As for Michigan I definitely have them making day two, so a 1-3 pool play would be a disappointment. Ohio State seems to have a weak pool in terms of pots 3-5. They should walk through that pool relatively easy. I really do not know how to disagree for my team without sounding biased, but I did not want to ignore the above comments.

Luke Changet: I’m with Tyler on Kansas maybe not performing at a top level, but I don’t think that’s really “disappointing,” as we don’t really know what to expect from Kansas after the losses mentioned above. Really, Kansas is an anomaly right now, and their game against Texas A&M will be very telling as far as where they stand. I think, before those losses, they had maybe a 1-in-3 chance of upsetting the Aggies. Now, I think 1-in-10 is being generous. Ball State has underperformed recently, but with a full roster, they should be back to normal. I think Devon McCoy helps that team more than anyone realizes, including the team itself, and I think with him they’re a totally different monster. I’m picking Michigan to disappoint due to their virtually non-existent seeking game. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them eliminated in pool play.

 

What team will ultimately surprise in pool or bracket play?

Samy Mousa: I wouldn’t be shocked to see Missouri fight their way out of a bad situation and into some spotlight.

Alexis Moody: I actually think Miami (OH) has the capability to turn heads with their pool. Villanova famously plays to the level of their opponents, and I think Miami has a chance to stay in snitch range. Carleton is also down some of their top players after their roster suspensions, and NYU is also down a couple of their best players. I’m interested to see how Matt Mignery, Michael March and Brian Neibecker bring the hurt against low contact teams. I also think Tina Kinstedt and Jeremy Ferlic are the best beater duo in this pool. The Lionhawks have a strong chance to win out, which would completely shock everyone.

David Hoops: I actually really like that pick Alexis. The only question I have for Miami is their seeking: I’m not a fan of picking an upset team that has had chances to take down top teams in snitch range this year but has yet to do so. They have made grabs against a depleted Bowling Green team and Central Michigan in the fall to force overtime, but an underdog team needs stronger seeking results than that.

Alexis Moody: I’m inclined to agree David. Brendan Kelly, also known as Cato, is their best asset in the seeker position, but he also plays major minutes at keeper, and by the time the seeker floor is up he’s pretty tired. I would love to see Mignery take control at keeper for the majority of their game against Villanova, keeping Kelly fresh for when the snitch is on pitch. The issue there is that Dan Takaki is one heck of a seeker who has more SWIM pulls than Kelly, so even if they are in snitch range it’s unlikely that they get the grab. Even so, a clear Midwest tier two team keeping Nova in snitch range for the second year in a row is newsworthy enough for me.

David Hoops: I also agree with you, Samy, on the Missouri front. Pool Nine doesn’t have a stereotypical powerhouse team from pots one or two, and LSU is a bit of a wildcard in terms of roster numbers and depth. Missouri finally has close to a full 21 roster, a problem that has plagued it since the team started playing. The top-end talent for Missouri has always been there, and finally we’ll be able to see what the team can do when they don’t get as tired at the end of the day.

Daniel Daugherty: Miami and Missouri both have a shot but I have reasons I don’t ulitmately see it in the cards for either of them. Miami doesn’t have the toughest Pot One or Two teams, but NYU is an extremely solid team. I think that leads to them getting taken just out of snitch range by all three. Missouri, meanwhile, is much deeper than they ever have been with the addition of Alex Scheer. Scheer is use to leading an entire offense on his own, and now he gets to play alongside Daniel Shapiro, Josh Ebbesmeyer and others. But they have yet to play together. Scheer, to my knowledge, hasn’t even practiced with the team, and I think it may lead to more issues than solutions.

Tyler Walker: I have to agree with everyone, but for the sake of debate, and since everything I would have said was already taken, I will throw two others into the mix. The first is Minnesota. In pool play, I think they will “surprise” everyone, if that’s still possible, and beat the Skrewts and McGill to win their pool.  In bracket play, they should get a higher seed and make sweet sixteen against a weaker opponent. The other is Grand Valley. They will not advance to Sunday, but I think they have a chance to steal a game in their pool. They are dedicated this year, and it could pay off. The team I really think will surprise everyone though has to be Miami (OH).

Luke Changet: I do like the Miami pick, though for them, surprising is making brackets, which I don’t think is too lofty a goal. I really disagree with Grand Valley. They were the last team to qualify in the Midwest, and I’ve seen their program up close, they seem more interested in code words than they are in true strategy. They’ve never beaten a high-profile team, never been to World Cup, really, there’s almost nothing redeeming about them, save a couple of decent athletes. They maybe have a shot at beating Maple Rush, but I doubt it.

I do expect Missouri to surprise. No, Alex Scheer hasn’t practiced with them, but he’s an elite chaser that’s now on a team that can support him. He’s always performed well at fantasy tournaments and on merc teams, so I don’t think he’ll have trouble blending in. Plus, he gives the Tigers a seeking option that they desperately need. Missouri is a different team with Scheer: a much better team.

 

What are your thoughts on the region’s Pot Five teams?

David Hoops: I don’t see any of them making it out of pool play. I think right now TC Frost is probably the most talented after Toledo has lost Scheer and Giles, but I can’t see Frost winning two of their four games.

Samy Mousa: My most anticipated game of the entire tournament will be Grand Valley vs. UMass. I think Grand Valley can get their one win right there.

But I will give Toledo a win in a strong effort against Harvard, and accredit TC Frost with a close game with their pot three and four teams..

Alexis Moody: I have to agree with Samy and David. Grand Valley has the best pool to make waves in. On the other hand, TC Frost is definitely the most talented of the bunch, and if they had Grand Valley’s pool, they would probably make bracket play.

Daniel Daugherty: Flat out, if any of these 4 teams win a game I will be quite shocked. I love these players and their heart, but they are all extremely short handed and just do not have enough talent to compete with these teams. Samy, I see Grand Valley as the worst of the bunch even with Toledo losing Scheer and Giles. I would be pleasantly surprised if they give UMass a game.

Samy Mousa: Have you seen UMass? I think they can be beaten by a stiff breeze.

Tyler Walker: I will give Eastern Michigan a fighting chance against Crimson Fliers, but they have to ball out to win that game. They have the potential and heart, and if they could put it together against Utah, they will at least give themselves a chance. Grand Valley, I think, could pull an upset on Maple Rush. Maple Rush does have some great players, but I tend not to trust how deep a B-team can be. Grand Valley is a deep team full of solid players at every position with no real standouts. UMass has not played that well this season, and only two official games this semester against sub-par competition is no way to come in ready for World Cup. Pools 12 and 13 are just too good for anything crazy happening for TC Frost and Toledo.

 

There has been a lot written on Michigan State. What are your general thoughts on them?

Daniel Daugherty: Luke, you have documented your feelings on Michigan State quite a bit, do you mind starting off with a brief synopsis of your feelings on the team?

Luke Changet: You just have to put me on the spot, don’t you? Just like Ethan, sigh… (Editor’s Note: We just like to mess with you Luke.) But yeah, Michigan State has great players at every position. Dan, be prepared to eat your words about “Average female beaters” tomorrow, you wouldn’t believe the shit Danielle [White] was spitting about you when she read that.

Anyways,real analysis. Michigan State has depth that we didn’t see at B1G/MAC, mostly because every single player there was playing out of position. Nic Dziadosz is an off-ball chaser, he played keeper and was the main ball carrier at B1G/MAC. Niko Banks is a third/fourth string point defender. He was playing off ball, and started several games. I could go on and on and on about that, but here’s the truth of it: Michigan State is as good as their teamwork. When they play as a team, they are damned near unbeatable. When they play as “Jacob Heppe and others,” they will lose. Yes, Heppe is the standout player, he runs the offense, he catches snitches, and he dishes out big hits, but the talent surrounding him is what makes the team. This is a much deeper team than Arkansas, which is good for Michigan State, because this is a later game. Arkansas’ top line would hang with and likely beat State, but once the subs hit the field, the Spartans definitely have a step. The rest of the pool is a joke, though people out West are big on Long Beach, so that should be interesting. Overall, Michigan State has a good pool to be poised to make a deep bracket run, but it will all come down to whether or not it becomes the Jacob Heppe show that we saw in tournament finals against Ball State and Central Michigan, or the dominant team effort that we saw at regionals.

Tyler Walker: Michigan State is still hanging around in the discussion of top-tier Midwest teams, but every tournament they have gone to this semester has cut into their legitimacy. Luke, I think you are forgetting in your analysis of State from B1G/MAC that while they were missing key players, so was almost every team at that tournament. I believe you are biased because you are closely associated with the Spartans. I promise that Central Michigan played beaters they would normally not have if Derry was there. Same for Michigan if both the twins were in attendance, and just about every other team. Does their performance at B1G/MAC show exactly what they are as a team? No, but does it give a pretty good indication of where they stack up in the Midwest? Absolutely. The fact that losing one player creates an entire shift shows that they don’t have another player who can fill Heppe’s “role” and do not have any real depth.

I don’t think that’s true, but if I am wrong and it is the Heppe and others show, then MSU is going to be in for trouble at World Cup if fatigue sets in or an injury occurs. As far as Day One goes, I like Michigan State’s chances to take their pool and do not believe it is a stretch to say they will win it. After playing against a few Arkansas players at Missouri, I never felt physically overmatched, so as long as the Spartans have a solid strategy and keep their heads in the game, it will more than likely come down to a snitch catch, in which case, I favor State.

Luke Changet: Tyler, you’re operating under the impression that Heppe was the only player missing. It wasn’t his absence that forced the rotation, it was the absence of him, plus his backup, plus three-of-the-six top beaters and two top male quaffle players that forced rotations for MSU. So, yes, everyone was short players, but MSU was short seven players, all of whom get significant playing time, and all of whom contribute a lot.

I don’t want to use this as an excuse, however, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page for accuracy’s sake. Yes, there are a lot of talented ball carriers on MSU’s team, unfortunately, none of them were there that weekend, save Nic Dziadosz, who was forced into a keeping role when he normally plays chaser.

 

Will Ohio State be shut out by anybody?

David Hoops: Every game.

Alexis Moody: No way. Their offense has improved way too much to be completely shut out.

Dan Daugherty: I actually feel it is a bold statement to answer in such a definitive way. Yes, I have lauded Ohio State’s offense in the past, and I don’t think they’ll get shut out, but to be 100% certain on it is further than I am willing to go. At regionals, when their offense was at its worse, Bowling Green essentially shut them out bar one fluke goal. I don’t foresee that happening, but I wouldn’tbet my life on it not. I would say I’m 95 percent positive they won’t get shut out.

Alexis Moody: If you don’t think  one of the region’s best offenses can pull off at least one goal per game, you must be crazy. When Bowling Green and Ohio State played at Phoenix Cup, the Buckeyes put up 130 quaffle points. This is against a team with one of the strongest defenses in the region. Even if you say that the Ohio State offense isn’t the same as it was in the early fall I can’t fathom a situation where Hoops, Boettner, Gunnar and the rest of OSU don’t rally for at least one score.

David Hoops: Dan I will bet my life on scoring at least a goal a game because if we get, shut out I’d rather you just kill me.

Tyler Walker: No way. Their offense is too clean and they have too many stand out players not to score at least 1 goal.

 

Ball State seems to be fluctuating with odd results, where do you currently see them (in regards to their pool)?

Dan Daugherty: Based on Samy’s analysis on the IQA Google Hangout after the pools were drawn, I would like to hear from him first on this one.

Samy Mousa: I think they will have a hardcore struggle. In areas where Ball State is weak I see Northern Arizona as strong. Also, that Emerson game will be a dogfight.

Alexis Moody: I agree with Samy. Ball State is going to have a tough Day 1 no matter how you slice it. But if Trevor, Devon, Tyler and Sara really push themselves they can at least go 3-1.

Tyler Walker: I really like our chances in this pool. I have to disagree with you, Samy. It is by no means an easy pool but I like our chances to take it. I think that we will actually match up well with the likes of Emerson and Northern Arizona. We played QC Pitt earlier in the season to good results, but that could prove deadly for us since they already have an idea of our players. I really do not think we will play an easy game in pool play all the way down to Sam Houston at Pot Five.

Samy Mousa: Tyler, you misunderstood me. I think you guys can win the pool; I just don’t think anyone is going 4-0. The main decider of whether you win the pool is that Northern Arizona vs. Emerson game, because then you can drop a game, just as long as you beat that victor.

 

On film it looks like a lot of Midwest teams like to switch fields when starting up their offense. On defense, a lot of teams tend to run a horizontal beater set up when they have control. Are these two related? If not, why do Midwest offenses switch fields so often?

David Hoops: Well, a lot of times defenses are focused on options around the hoops as opposed to taking away the passes around midfield. Making that point defender shift sides of the field may not really open anything up, but it is a good way to signal the other players on offense to start moving into their offensive set.

 

From recent discussions, analysts describe Midwest teams as “pass happy”, whereas some people describe their experience playing against them, although relatively limited, as being that the Midwest is basically all brute force, kind of slow tempo teams that don’t rely on the pass. Which one is true, and if they both are, what is the trend?

Dan Daugherty: I was personally shocked to hear multiple people label the Midwest as “pass happy.” People, including our own Luke Changet, have pointed to that being our biggest weakness. I do believe, however, that, as a whole, the region has been working tirelessly to change that stigma. Therefore, I would say both are true, but the trend it towards more passing, at least an attempt to.

Alexis Moody: I’ve also been perplexed by the “pass happy” label. I think there are some elite Midwest teams that do well in the passing game (OSU, CMU, MSU, and BGSU), while others tend to buckle down and drive (Michigan and Ball State). It also kind of depends who they’re playing. For me, strong beating is much more characteristic of the region as a whole.

Luke Changet: People say we’re pass happy? I think, apart from CMU and OSU, this region largely runs a one-pass-and-drive offense. For example, in the Kansas vs. Mizzou game at MWRC, there were 32 offensive possessions (both teams are counted), of those 32, 26 had 1 or fewer passes. Similarly, in the OSU vs. MSU game, with 43 possessions, 36 of them had 1 or fewer passes. (these are the only games I have stats for…as of now). Obviously, that OSU team is not the typical OSU team, and if I watched film from B1G MAC, I’m sure the OSU offense would average around 2-3 passes per offensive possession (PPoP), but from those two games, involving three top tier and one mid-top tier team in the MW, there is no way we can accurately be labeled as “pass happy”.

 

What Midwest players would excel on teams outside of the region?

Alexis Moody: I would love to see Ashley Calhoun play with Brittney Ripperger. Whether it’s in Baylor’s Hoop Zone or notl I just think they would be one of the most dominate beater duos in the country. Conversely, I want to see them duke it out in bracket play.

Tyler Walker: Max McAdoo would play well with the Lost Boys. He plays all over the field and is the most aggressive beater from Bowling Green. I think he would pose an interesting matchup and also be able to get into their beater system with a minor learning curve.

All of Minnesota’s male chasers would fit in well with Boston University. Jared Sipe, Matt Jass and Nick Berg, in particular, are big physical guys who look to pass and are consistent at landing and catching difficult passes.

I would also like to see Jacob Heppe play with Harry Greenhouse from Maryland. The speed and hustle on that team would just be too much for anyone.

 

Can Dan Daugherty still be effective if he has to face Baylor D?

Samy Mousa: Baylor D? Sorry you mean hoop defense?

Alexis Moody: Did you see him shoot from half pitch against Miami? Daniel Daugherty can do everything except birth a child and even then he would give it a good try.

David Hoops: To seriously answer this question, the three-tree zone does take away Dan’s signature long-distance heave. From watching him this season, he’s made a noted effort to get much closer to the hoops before he releases, and his driving ability is definitely underrated. Where I see Dan helping Bowling Green the most if they do run into Baylor – or Minnesota, or Emerson’s unique zone – is in his distribution abilities. Patient passing and chaser movement around the perimeter can give Bowling Green’s beaters time to clear out the zone’s beaters or at least get bludger control, which severely hampers any zone’s effectiveness.

Tyler Walker: If memory serves me right he was hitting those typically on transition. The shots can definitely still land if the quaffle players are not getting back on defense quick enough.

 

Why are Midwest offenses so long shot heavy compared to other regions?

Alexis Moody: There are some players that favor longer shots. People like Dan Daugherty, David Hoops, Tyler Walker and David Prueter all score regularly in the half court. The teams those players are on also score regularly in the keeper zone. So no, I don’t think the Midwest as a whole likes the long shot, but if you have a perfected skill, why not use it to put points on the board for your team?

David Hoops: It heavily depends on the team. Yes, Ohio State has a lot of players who have the ability to put a few long distance shots home, as do teams like Bowling Green and Central Michigan. However, the best teams all understand that the closer you are to the hoops, the more likely you are to score. Long shots, for all these “long-shooting” teams, aren’t the first or second option, but as a third or lower option, it’s good to pull up to keep the beaters honest and can give the team a huge morale boost.

 

Which Midwest player will have a breakout World Cup and which player will disappoint?

David Hoops: My Midwest player to watch is chaser Andrew Axtell of Michigan. This guy can flat out play. He is as physical as they come on both sides of the ball, he is smart enough to pass to the open player when defenses collapse, and he has the ability to power through undersized snitches as a seeker. If Michigan comes out on top of the loaded Pool 5 – something their physical team is capable of –  Axtell will be a huge reason why.

Samy Mousa: Max “Catch Anything” Wallerstedt

Alexis Moody: Hai Nguyen is my player to disappoint. He’s been touted as the saving grace for a depleted Kansas roste,r and I don’t think he’s going to live up to the hype. Hai has great speed and good movement to get around defenders, but he just doesn’t fill the holes left by Colby Soden and Jordan Callison.

Tyler Walker: All of the top seven teams from the Midwest have players who can get hot and make waves on Sunday. I think Jacob Heppe is not going to live up to the hype he has created. If Michigan State is to play well it will not be on the back of one player, but as a unit.

Luke Changet: Jeremy Boettner will have his coming out party this WC. He’s been great from the start, and is only getting better and better. I’m going to agree with Tyler, Heppe will disappoint. He’s good, but he’s not “beat elite teams by myself” good, and sometimes he plays like he thinks he is.

 

What Midwest team has the best overall beating core?

Alexis Moody: I’m going to go with Bowling Green on this one. While there are a few standouts – Max McAdoo, Chad Brown, Jenna Rindler and Joe Pavlik come to mind – the beating core as a whole executes their strategy very well.

Samy Mousa: So When Kansas had control for 95 percent of the game against them in the finals?

Alexis Moody: And then when they did have control it allowed Roitblat to get the grab, winning them a championship. Also focusing on having control isn’t necessarily successful or indicative of overall quality, as Texas proved.

Samy Mousa: One mistake was in fact made, and that was the difference in the game. That being said, Kansas’ beaters laid an intense hurt on Bowling Green. You can ask Chad Brown, he was not able to keep me away from their female beater, which was the cause of three goals.

Alexis Moody: One game doesn’t dictate the quality of individual players or a team’s strategies. Roitblat beat out Rudolph on the grab, but do we consider him better the better seeker? No. We judge a player or a group of players on their entire body of work. In my opinion, the Bowling Green beater core has been consistent and powerful all season, and have only improved since regionals.

Daniel Daugherty: I think it is unfair to the region as a whole to think that Bowling Green and Kansas are the only two teams in this discussion. I think Michigan State could be, but I see their beating core as just all really solid players, with none truly elite. Central Michigan should definitely be in the conversation with Ashley Calhoun, Andrew Derry and the imposing Tom O’Neil. Then you have the likes of Michigan, Ball State and Minnesota, who all deserve a mention.

David Hoops: I think to leave Central Michigan out of the discussion would be a big mistake. Their top two, Calhoun and Derry, might trump any other team’s best duo. I think that others have more depth, but if those two are on the field, Central Michigan has the very slight edge.

Tyler Walker: If Pavlik is up to form by World Cup. then you have to give the nod to BG. But, over the past semester, Central Michigan has done work at the beating end.

Samy Mousa: If you do not think Kansas has the strongest beating core you are flat wrong. Our beaters whooped on MSU – I actually had the best game of my life against them – rolled Marquette, and in the finals, we still had a dominant game. If you don’t think Kansas has the best beaters, then tell me what do we have? Because the only game I have ever seen Kansas lose the beater game was against UCLA. But please, we actually love it when you sleep on us.

Tyler Walker: I do not think anyone is sleeping on your beaters, but if they were that dominant in those games, then why were those games in snitch range? Is your quaffle game that sub-par? Because from what I have seen, your chasers are really good. Granted, I only have limited views to judge, but I see Bowling Green first, Central Michigan second, followed by Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Michigan State in that order.

Luke Changet: I’m going with Central Michigan. As Dan said, they have likely the best starting duo in the Midwest in Derry and Calhoun, but you underestimate their depth. Tom O’Neil is, I think, the best backup beater in the region. He stepped up big in Derry’s absence at B1G/MAC, and played way more than a recovering Derry at Glass City. CMU’s beaters controlled both of those tournaments. Also, don’t sleep on Rebecca Bennett, she’s a more-than-capable backup to Calhoun.

Samy, here’s my take on the Kansas beaters. Yes, you keep bludger control, but when you have it, defensively, you’re hesitant to use it. You seem to value holding bludger control more than forcing turnovers, whereas other teams use their beaters to totally disrupt the opposition. You have top-notch chasers so you don’t need your beaters to force turnovers, your chaser defense is strong enough. Your beaters play into your system perfectly, but, when people discuss the best beating core, they tend to talk about which beaters are the most active, most disruptive. Thus, people sleep on the Kansas. beaters.

Samy Mousa: Well you guys see the teams closer to you more often, so you can make that claim, it’s wrong, but you can make that claim.

 

What team has the most proficient offense?

Tyler Walker: The entire Midwest tears it up offensively. Teams are not ready any of our offenses mixed with the lockdown defense. I think each of the top 10 in the Midwest is a force to be reckoned with.

Samy Mousa: Agreed.

Daniel Daugherty: Yea, I’m not going to say all of that. Ohio State has the most proficient offense and I don’t think anyone has a good case for disagreeing.

Luke Changet: I would halfway argue for Central Michigan, as I think they have a case, but I think the precision with which the Ohio State offense operates is unmatched. Central Michigan gets results, but the Buckeyes make it look good.

 

Predictions:

Eastern Michigan vs. University of Miami (5-0 Miami)

Eastern Michigan vs. Texas State University (5-0 Texas State)

Eastern Michigan vs. Macaulay Honors College (5-0 Macaulay)

Eastern Michigan vs. Crimson Fliers (4-1 Crimson Fliers)

        Tyler Walker: Eastern Michigans biggest problem this year has been depth. They have been able to hang with teams for the first five-plus minutes of games, but then their top players get tired and their game begins to get very sloppy. If they can keep it together while getting beat by the top teams, I think they will beat the Fliers, who are bringing a depleted roster as well. I do not believe this will be an easy game, but I do think that Eastern Michigan has not played to their potential, and after getting tossed around by the top three teams in this pool, they will come out with nothing to lose.

 

Miami University vs. Villanova (5-0 Villanova)

Miami University vs. Carleton University (4-1 Carleton)

Alexis Moody: I touched on this a little earlier in the discussion, but let’s break it down a little more. Miami excels at controlling a game with strong bludger control and slow methodical drives. I believe that against a region lagging behind in the bludger game, Miami has the experience and talent to turn this game in their favor. On top of that, Carleton is missing a few of their leaders and top players due to policy suspensions. Do I think Miami is going to blow Carleton out? No. But I think they can control the game and have the beating talent to pull off a major upset.

Miami University vs. New York University (3-2 Miami)

    Daniel Daugherty: Miami has an extremely difficult schedule. They play Carleton and Villanova before they play this game, and even though those aren’t the two best teams in their pots, they are still tough teams. If Miami loses to those two teams, and I believe they will, I foresee them being deflated and not coming out with the fire they will need to win this game.

         Samy Mousa: I just think that there are some fatal flaws in Miami’s play that could be the end of the game for them. I’m calling NYU by a goal or two.

Miami University vs. Oklahoma Baptist University (4-1 Miami)

    Daniel Daugherty: In my mind, Miami doesn’t have any truly standout players. Yes, they have Matt Mignery, Tina Kinstedt, Jeremy Ferlic and Brendan Kelly to name a few of their better players, but none of them are on the same level as a Tylor McLaren and Chandler Smith. Matt Mignery and Tina Kinstedt are the closest to it but I think Miami is just not ready for a Southwest team.

 

Kansas vs. Texas A&M (5-0 Texas A&M)

Kansas vs. University of Richmond (4-1 Kansas)

    David Hoops: From playing Richmond last season and watching them on film, their beaters are very, very underrated. Their quaffle game is just good enough to hang with Kansas, and with Keir not attending, I’m not sure how Kansas will answer their seeking question. Richmond with a grab while being down in quaffle points to pull the upset.

Kansas vs. Valhalla (5-0 Kansas)

Kansas vs. Eastern Florida State College (5-0 Kansas)

 

Ohio State vs. The Lost Boys (5-0 Lost Boys)

Ohio State vs. University of Rochester (4-1 OSU)

        Samy Mousa: This team is fast, and there is no way this is going to be a shut out for either team, but from what I have seen from Rochester, they are not to be taken lightly and will fight tooth and nail

Ohio State vs. The Silver Phoenix (5-0 OSU)

Ohio State vs. Rollins College (5-0 OSU)

 

Michigan vs. NYDC Capitalists (3-2 NYDC)

Samy Mousa: This is a tossup, but everyone seems so certain that NYDC will do well because they haven’t done well, whereas I don’t see them having to deal with teams that are dominant in the ways Michigan is.  Michigan has a lot of size, and I do not see NYDC as particularly resilient to physicality. My word isn’t law, but I just see Michigan with the advantage over NYDC.

    Tyler Walker: I will start by saying that Michigan has a very real chance to take this game, and in turn take this pool. However, NYDC matches up far too well at the positions Michigan needs to dominate. Particularly at the chaser position, NYDC has plenty of players who will get physical and with much better finesse than Michigan. I see this game going to a snitch catch and in a game in snitch range, it’s tough to go against Greco.

Michigan vs. Santa Barbara Blacktips (5-0 Michigan)

Michigan vs. Austin Quidditch (5-0 Michigan)

Michigan vs. New York Badassilisks (5-0 Michigan)

 

Ball State vs. Emerson College (3-2 Emerson)

Alexis Moody: This game is going to come down to a couple of key player battles. Devon McCoy vs. David Fox and Trevor Campbell vs. Aaron Wohl. I think that the highly underrated Trevor is going to completely dominate Wohl with his physicality, arm strength and pitch awareness. McCoy, on the other hand, will have his hands full with Fox. If McCoy can stay focused, keep Fox on his toes, and create turnovers, the Cardinals will keep this game in snitch range and Jason Bowling, with his 6-1 SWIM record, will do well against an inconsistent seeking game from Emerson.

David Hoops: Hyper aggressive beating and raw power from Ball State will blow up Emerson’s zone. This is going to be an extremely high scoring game and I think that’s what Ball State plays best in.

Ball State vs. Northern Arizona University (4-1 Ball State)

Samy Mousa: I foresee this being a close game. It could really be a tossup. Therefore, I’m going to break this down into 5 factors: Offensive Chasing goes to NAU, Defensive Chasing goes to BS, Male Beater goes to BS, Female beater goes to NAU, Seeker goes to NAU.

Ball State Cardinals vs. Q.C Pittsburgh (5-0 Ball State)

Ball State Cardinals vs. Sam Houston State University (5-0 Ball State)

 

Minnesota vs. McGill University (5-0 Minnesota)

Minnesota vs. RPI Remembralls (5-0 Minnesota)

Minnesota vs. Silicon Valley Skrewts (4-1 Minnesota)

    David Hoops: Probably my boldest pick, but from I can tell about the Skrewts is its roster has been lacking most of the season, and this is the best edition of the Skrewts anyone is seeing all season. I think they come into this pool guns blazing and shock a lot of people.

Minnesota Quidditch vs. University of Sydney Unspeakables (5-0 Minnesota)

 

Central Michigan vs. Florida’s Finest (4-1 CMU)

         Tyler Walker: I traveled to one of the Mid-Atlantic fantasy tournaments and I saw Sean Snipes play. I have to say that this dude is one of the greatest pure scorers in the country, and I think he will cut through a defense that will not be ready for the beating of Sean Pagoada and the rest of that team. I look at how I expect Central Michigan to play, and then I look at Florida’s Finest’s lineup, and I just think it will cause too many problems for Central Michigan too pull out of snitch range. In which case the reemergence of Tyler Macy give the finest the game. I have this down as the best game of Saturday though because both of these teams are hotheaded to put it nicely, and it should get pretty nasty.

Quidditch Club of Central Michigan vs. Texas Tech (5-0 CMU)

Central Michigan vs. University of North Carolina (5-0 CMU)

Central Michigan vs. Wizards of Westwood (5-0 CMU)

 

University of Missouri vs. Gee-Gees (5-0 Gee-Gees)

University of Missouri vs. Tufts University (4-1 Tufts)

    David Hoops: Missouri’s power trumps Tufts’ strategic advantages. Probably a come from behind snitch grab for them to win.

University of Missouri vs. Louisiana State University (5-0 LSU)

University of Missouri vs. San Jose State University (5-0 Missouri)

 

Michigan State University Quidditch vs. University of Arkansas (4-1 MSU)

    Daniel Daugherty: Michigan State just seemed to underwhelm at Glass City, and were not the only Midwest team to do so. They don’t have enough pieces to knock off a questionable Arkansas team. Now, at the end of the day, I think this is more about Arkansas than Michigan. Arkansas is headlined by the two-headed monster of Peter and Joey Reynebeau. These two play so well together and are an incredible mix of size, strength and athleticism, which I think MSU will have a lot of difficulty stopping. Then, Arkansas matches up very well with MSU’s three solid male beaters with Jordan Key and Jason Musik. I believe they have solved their issues from regionals and won’t have to have a non-beater play female beater for an entire tournament. Needless to say, this game intrigues me.

Michigan State University Quidditch vs. Steel City Quidditch Club (5-0 MSU)

Michigan State University Quidditch vs. Syracuse University (5-0 MSU)

Michigan State University Quidditch vs. The Long Beach (5-0 MSU)

 

Grand Valley Grindylows vs. Baylor University (5-0 Baylor)

Grand Valley Grindylows vs. University of California Los Angeles (5-0 UCLA)

Grand Valley Grindylows vs. Ottawa Maple Rush (5-0 Ottawa)

Grand Valley Grindylows vs. University of Massachusetts Amherst (3-2 UMass)

    Alexis Moody: To me, this pick is less about the qualities of Grand Valley, of which there are few, but the even fewer qualities of UMass. Absolutely nothing impressed me about this team at Northeast Regionals back in November. In fac,t the only thing that stood out to me was a general lack of knowledge about most rules or strategy, and the fact that, on more than one occasion, players and captains screamed at refs for what they deemed was rule breaking. That said, Grand Valley has better beaters, has a solid chasing threat in John Alexander, and the talented Gabe Unick at seeker. Not only do I think GVSU will win this game, but I think it will just barely be out of snitch range.

Samy Mousa: I’ve said it before: A stiff breeze can beat UMass. That being said, I have seen some life out of Grand Valley. On the flip side, I’ve also seen a lot of dirty play out of them, but if they can limit the cards, they should have their one win.

 

TC Frost vs. Boston University (5-0 Boston)

TC Frost vs. Penn State University (5-0 Penn State)

TC Frost vs. University of South Florida Quidditch (4-1 USF)

Samy Mousa:  I have no reason to say that USF is particularly threatening. And, maybe even more importantly, I’ve seen a TC Frost team beat a full roster with only eight players.  I think they are going to be worrisome for USF.

TC Frost vs. Oklahoma State University (5-0 Oklahoma State)

 

Toledo vs. Maryland (5-0 Maryland)

Toledo vs. Arizona State University – Sun Devil Quidditch (5-0 ASU)

Toledo vs. Tennessee Tech (5-0 Tennessee Tech)

Toledo vs. Harvard (5-0 Harvard)

 

Indiana University South Bend vs. The University of Texas at San Antonio (5-0 Texas)

Indiana University South Bend vs. Q.C Boston: The Massacre (5-0 Q.C Boston)

Indiana University South Bend vs. Stanford Quidditch (5-0 Stanford)

Indiana University South Bend vs. Rutgers Nearly Headless Knights (5-0 Rutgers)

 

Crimson Warhawks vs. Lone Star Quidditch Club (5-0 LSQC)

Crimson Warhawks vs. RIT (5-0 RIT)

Crimson Warhawks vs. Appalachian Quidditch (4-1 Appalachian)

Samy Mousa: I don’t see why not.  Warhawks have super raw talent, and I mean SUPER RAW. But they have had the necessary things happen this season. New leadership, new strategies, same old athleticism. We shall see.

Crimson Warhawks vs. University of South Carolina (5-0 Crimson Warhawks)

 

Bowling Green State University vs, University of Florida (5-0 BG)

Bowling Green State University vs. Hofstra University (5-0 BG)

Bowling Green State University vs. University of Virginia (5-0 BG)

Bowling Green State University vs. Cal Quidditch (5-0 BG)

 

The Return of Abayan: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Credit: Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff

Credit: Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff

The sporting world has had its fair share of short-lived retirements of major players. Brett Favre dick-wagged his way from the Packers to the Jets to the Vikings. Michael Jordan took up baseball, learned what millions of young Americans learn every year – that can’t become a professional athlete just by wanting to be – and returned to basketball. Now, the quidditch world has its first such case.

Last season, Andy Abayan was one of the two heads of the UCLA beating monster. His play, which may have been less heralded than teammate Asher King Abramson’s, was every bit as good, and was essential to the Bruins’ finals run at World Cup VI. And while Abayan’s highlight reel might not be quite as burned into everyone’s mind, his play in the semifinals, negating both of Baylor’s elite beaters in a matter of seconds, was as good as any beater play I’ve ever seen. Had he started this season on a team, he likely would have been considered the best active beater in quidditch, but Abayan instead chose to take a break from the game to focus on other aspects of his life.

That all changed in the last month, as rumors of his return to quidditch were followed by Evan Bell drafting him for his Quiyk team while announcing that he would be playing for the Santa Barbara Blacktips for the remainder of the season. Just like that, one of the strongest beaters our sport has ever seen was back in the game.

This past weekend, lost in the headlines of the Southwest Regionals, Abayan made his return to quidditch at the Gold Medal Invitational, helping Santa Barbara to a semifinals run that ended with a loss to the No. 2 Lost Boys.

So what exactly can we make out of his return? Is he a Brett Favre, living out his career past its prime, or a Michael Jordan, primed for more championship runs? Lucky for me, video has surfaced from two of their biggest games of the weekend: a pool play matchup with Northern Arizona, and a bracket play matchup with the Silicon Valley Skrewts. Let’s break it down.

 

The Hard Facts

Vs. Northern Arizona (Pre-Seeker Play)

  Time Points For Points Against
With Abayan 12:05 70 30
Without Abayan 11:40 50 70

Six Forced Turnovers, Two Losses of Bludger Control, No Gains of Bludger Control

Vs. Silicon Valley Skrewts (Pre-Seeker Play)

  Time Points For Points Against
With Abayan 5:56 10 20
Without Abayan 10:02 40 40

Two Forced Turnovers, No Losses of Bludger Control, No Gains of Bludger Control

 

The Good

Abayan’s raw skills, which alone are enough to put him above most beaters in the game, haven’t fallen off at all in his time away from the sport. His speed and agility make him a massive threat on the defensive end, capable of making multiple beats in a single possession while recovering his bludger again and again. It was plays like these that completely hampered Northern Arizona in the early minutes of their game. In fact, in his first shift, which lasted just over five minutes, Abayan forced four turnovers while holding the Narwhals scoreless.

Perhaps the perfect example was this play early in the game, where an offensive turnover by the Blacktips left the Narhwals with three quaffle players on the break against the two Santa Barbara beaters. By the time the play is over, Abayan has stopped the rush and beaten three players by himself.

And while Abayan’s stamina may have tailed off a bit, something we’ll discuss later on, his arm strength was able to bail him out when his feet didn’t have it in them anymore. Look at this point saving beat made 24 minutes into the match.

While his movement was somewhat more limited by day two, something that may be attributed to a movement-hampering blister he picked up during the tournament but also may be contributed to a decrease in stamina, it was hard not to be impressed with the pure athleticism Abayan possesses, and what he could do with it. Just by having him on the team, the Blacktips can count on three or four plays every game that they didn’t have the talent to make before.

 

The Bad

Unfortunately, those lower levels of talents in the beater core also occasionally made it so nothing Abayan could do was enough to fix Santa Barbara’s issues. Midway through the Northern Arizona game, Abayan did everything he could on a play, clearing out the Narwhals’ unarmed male beater, beating their ball-handler while forcing a weak pass, and then forced Northern Arizona’s female beater, April Gonzalez, to throw at him, at which point he made the catch. This left the Blacktips with four quaffle players and a beater to defend against three quaffle players with no beater support. But the Blacktips’ female beater missed the beat, conceding bludger control in the process, and the four quaffle players couldn’t pull off a successful wrap, leading to a Narwhal goal.

An extension of the weaker beaters around him, but also likely largely due to his own break form the game, was that Abayan struggled in beater interaction situations, which require less of the raw athleticism and more experience and decision making. He was not able to regain bludger control once, despite spending 8:41 over the course of two games without it. When playing for UCLA, that was generaly alright, as the players around him made it so that playing defense and creating offense with one bludger was more than enough. But with Santa Barbara, when Abayan didn’t have control, the team was much more vulnerable. Abayan will need to improve on this before World Cup to maximize his impact.

 

The Ugly

I’ve tried to find a nice way to say this, but I honestly can’t: Abayan was utterly and completely manhandled by Willis Miles IV in his six minute shift at the beginning of the Silicon Valley Skrewts game. After Miles and beating partner Kyrie Timbrook took bludger control on brooms up, they never got anywhere near relinquishing it to the Blacktips.

But it wasn’t just that they held their two bludgers in the shell of their defense to protect control, Miles also consistently and effectively neutralized Abayan with Silicon Valley on offense. On one play, Miles ditched his bludger and laid a hit on Abayan, taking him out of the play. On the next, Miles stepped up with his bludger and confidently beat Abayan, against rendering him ineffective while retaining control.

If the Skrewts had a little more athleticism and were capable of consistently finishing at the hoops, the game could have easily been 60-or-70 to 10 after those first six minutes. Instead, the game was close, Blacktips second-string beater Brian Vampola wrestled control away from the Skrewts backups, and Santa Barbara eventually would go on to win on a snitch grab.

Not every team has a Willis Miles, or even a Kyrie Timbrook for that matter, that will be able to so athletically go up against Abayan. And yes, maybe Abayan was limited by injury on Sunday. But the fact remains that the Andy Abayan of April 2013 was almost always the best beater on the pitch, and he’s still got some work left to get back to that level, with only a month to go before the Cup. And with Santa Barbara’s seeker issues, anything short of Abayan circa 2013 is going to make a deep Cup run impossible.

Their Time to Shine: Michigan State University

Credit: Monica Wheeler

Credit: Monica Wheeler

Editor’s Note: When Luke’s rankings had the Spartans significantly higher than the rest of our site’s ballots, I felt the need to follow up, asking him to introduce the rest of the world to this Michigan State team that he truly believes will contend in Myrtle Beach. I plan for this to be the beginning of a series really breaking down some of the middle-tier underdogs that have flown under the radar so far. Enjoy!

The Midwest has been a cluster of confusion this season, with seven teams – No. 9 Bowling Green, No. 11 Kansas, No. 15 Michigan State, Ball State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Central Michigan – virtually even with each other, and several more just barely a step below. Combine that with virtually no video exposure, and it’s safe to say that the Midwest is easily the most unpredictable region. However, one team has been flying under the radar all season. Most likely it’s because they haven’t won a tournament, but I feel that it’s also because nobody has had a chance to really look at their program. That team is Michigan State, and this is why they’re a power, not just regionally, but nationally.

I know your first questions is going to be: If they’re so great, where have they been? Well, Michigan State has lost in tournament finals twice this season. Once in their first tournament, when they were still putting this roster together, and the other against Ball State after an injury to Kevin Fennell, their star point chaser, who is probably the only player on the team capable of taking down some of Ball State’s stars one-on-one. At Regionals, Michigan State dominated a heavily favored Ohio State team, and was the only team to beat Kansas in quaffle points.

Since Regionals, this team has only gotten better. Bobby Casler still hadn’t mastered the sport at that point, and wasn’t even a part of the Regionals team. Similarly, Sara DeLongchamp had only been playing for a couple months and had yet to figure out how she fit in. At the time, she was only third string, but has rapidly become a clear starter. Some coaching and rotational issues bogged Michigan State down for a while, but now Michigan State will be naming a designated sidelines coach to deal with those issues, freeing Ian Hoopingarner up to play more, and likely solving the issue of Heppe not getting enough time in SWIM situations.

In short, this team has been here all year, they just hadn’t put the pieces together yet. But now, the puzzle is finished, and it’s a masterpiece.

Player-By-Player

Keepers

Jacob Heppe is a name you may have heard when talking about top seekers. It’s true, he has a 100 percent SWIM this season, but since he’s always worn out from being one of the best keepers in the region, he doesn’t always have time to rest up and get in the game at seeker. He’s fast – like sub-five 40-yards fast – strong and stocky, and though he’s short, he has the vertical to cover every hoop.

Heppe is a player who can put a team on his back and win. He’s nearly impossible to bring down, if you can even get a hand on him to begin with. He has an incredible finesse shot, and works well off the ball as well. Really, he’s the closest thing the Midwest has to a Tony Rodriguez; a player who dominates every game he plays in.

Heppe dishing out a big hit, then going coast-to-coast against Ball State.

Backing up Heppe, Griffin Engel is a major threat as well. Engel is much taller that Heppe, which allows him to pick off more passes near the hoops, and also a better distributor. His driving ability is astounding, and he almost never misses a mid-range shot. If it wasn’t for Heppe, Engel would easily be a starter, and likely considered one of the top keepers in the region.

Chasers

Kevin Fennell is a top-notch point chaser by any standards. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Fennell has the size to match up relatively well with anyone, and has the determination to never let go once he wraps up. Fennell was missing from the Michigan State team at Midwest Regionals due to a shoulder injury, and with him, there’s not a doubt in my mind they would have won regionals.

He is also a defensive nightmare for opponents, and has some of the best offensive positioning, hands and awareness in the region. He’s one of the few Midwest players – many of whom are on Michigan State’s team, I might add – who has mastered receiving an alley-oop, and with his size, he’s a threat to drive as well.

Nic Dzaidosz and Engel might as well be the same person on the pitch, separated only by Engel’s fiery red hair. Their builds are similar, their minds are similar, their driving ability is similar and their mid-range shooting is nearly perfect. As a result, Dzaidosz and Engel are a perfect storm offensively. As a keeper, Engel will have the ball most often while coming up the pitch, but with these two, it’s impossible to tell where the final shot will come from.

Nic Dzaidosz makes a heads-up play, adjusting to catch, shoot, and score off of a tipped shot.

Sara DeLongchamp is a Freshman, but is easily one of the best female chasers in the Midwest, and possibly in the nation. She has spent this year becoming the best catcher on the Michigan State roster, and her height makes her an easy target near the hoops. She has a quick release paired with great hands, which we all know translates into easy goals. She’s already the top female chaser on Michigan State’s roster, and she’s only been playing for a semester. By the end of this semester, it will be impossible to have a conversation about Midwest female chasers without her name coming up.

Ian Hoopingarner is a fierce competitor, and has gained a lot of enemies on the pitch. However, his determination to win shines through every second he’s on the field. One of the fastest players on Michigan State’s team, Hoopingarner pairs his great speed with a very athletic build that allows him to power through all but the stingiest of point defenders. This past semester, he was forced into a coaching role for Michigan State, but what little time he has spent on the pitch has been productive.

Meyessa Mansour is a veteran of the game, and uses her knowledge and experience to her advantage. Her small stature makes her a tougher target than DeLongchamp near the hoops, but she makes up for it with gritty play and quick thinking.  Mansour has been a consistent scorer for Michigan State for years, and she’s a perfect sub for the DeLongChamp, because the team doesn’t lose anything except some height.

Bobby Casler is a junior, but he’s a first year quidditch player, and was a great find for Michigan State. His football background brought their chaser lines some much-needed physicality, and his raw athleticism translates into opportunities everywhere. Like DeLongchamp, as the season has gone on, he has gotten exponentially better, especially at off-ball chasing and catch-and-release shots near the hoops. Casler is built similarly to Heppe, with hands like DeLongchamp. He’s an off-ball slasher with an extra dose of physicality on defense.

Kevin McCoy, another first year quidditch player, has become a staple on the Spartan bench. He’s one of the faster players on the team, and one of the better point defenders. He’s not the best by any means, but he can fill a lot of roles. He’s good at sticking with a man, and he’s good at making cuts or finding an opening to shoot on offense. A true Jack-of-all-trades, he filled in as point chaser at Regionals for the injured Fennell, and Michigan State reached the Final Four without ever being outscored in the quaffle game.

Beaters

Jim Richert is the headliner of this dynamic beating group. Richert has a powerful arm and isn’t afraid to use it. On an overall scale, he leans a bit conservative, and doesn’t like to waste his bludger, but when he makes up his mind to throw, it’s always on target, regardless of distance. His powerful arm has saved many goals for the Spartans, and his conservative nature allows them to hold onto bludger control for long periods of time.

Jacob “Bubbles” Bobeldyk is a much more aggressive beater. Similar to Chris Seto or Peter Lee of the No. 2 Lost Boys, Bobeldyk uses his speed to his advantage and loves to clear up space on offense. However, unlike Seto or Lee, Bobeldyk doesn’t use his arm as much, and instead relies on his positioning to force the issue around him, using his speed to be wherever it helps the most. However, he thrives on snitch beating. Bobeldyk is fast enough to keep up with snitch play, and smart enough to target the right player in the snitch game. He’s a large reason that Red Team was able to win the Midwest Winter Fantasy tournament, as no seeker was able to get close to the snitch when he was on it.

Bobeldyk (#23) takes out Ashley Calhoun and David Preuter of Central Michigan over a few seconds, without losing track of the snitch.

Tim Glew is just a freshman, and as such, he’s still learning the nuances of beating, but his natural ability far outshines any strategic disadvantages. His speed pretty makes him a menace at brooms up, and his aggression paired with a cannon arm is reminiscent of Asher Abramson, but younger and less certain of himself.

Shelby Atkinson is a prototypical “ghost” or “back” beater. She knows perfectly when to throw so that receivers don’t have a chance to dodge or block, and she knows that she’s sometimes the last line of defense and acts accordingly. Her throws are never wild, and her rebounds are always recoverable. She plays with incredible precision that’s hard to replicate.

Danielle White is to Atkinson what Bobeldyk is to Richert. She’s fast and aggressive, and never hesitates to take you out of the play. Her aggressive play can get her into trouble at times if she misses, but more often it kills opponent’s plays before they even get started.

Really, what allows the Michigan State beaters to thrive is their adaptability in the beater game. If they want to really dominate the game with beaters, they play Bobeldyk or Glew with White. If they want to reel it in and shore up their defense, they play Richert and Atkinson. If they want a solid mind with an aggressive undertone, Richert and White; a high-pressure front and a clean-up in back, Bobeldyk and Atkinson; all male chaser line, White on point and Atkinson as ghost; two male beaters, Richert and Bobeldyk can control any game, or throw in Glew as a wild card to really dominate the whole field.

This versatility is unmatched, and Michigan State can play as many beating strategies as they have beaters, and this is without even mentioning their third string beaters, Brandon Ollio and Maria DeNunzio, who, while young, work very well as a pair and even better with some guidance.

Their chaser lines may be deep, but the versatility of their beaters is what makes Michigan State elite.

Seekers

Finally, the closers. What does Michigan State have that will give them that little extra? How about two of the top three seekers in the Midwest? Heppe is renowned for his seeking, and I’ve yet to see a snitch last more than a minute on a pitch with him, but Jack Norgren is one of the best around as well. His Tae Kwon Do background taught him a lot of fighting skills, which are very useful in seeking, and his lanky build allows him to get around most snitches with ease. An argument could be made that Michigan State should have won their semifinals matchup at MWRC when Norgren caught the snitch, but it was ruled off because the snitch backed into him and impeded himself. Suffice to say, these two seekers in rotation are virtually unstoppable.

Vulnerabilities?

This Michigan State team doesn’t have many weaknesses, but their main weakness is also their main strength. Keeper Jacob Heppe, when given the chance, will put a game on his shoulders. With so many weapons around him, if you just focus on shutting down Heppe, he’ll be able to distribute with ease and the Spartans will rack up points. However, if you let Heppe do his thing, and take away his options, he’ll do it all himself.

This creates the one and only problem for the Spartans, Heppe doesn’t conserve energy – when he’s on the field, he’s giving 100 percent every play. This, paired with keeper being the only position with any kind of depth issues on the team, can lead to Heppe getting tired when Michigan State needs him the most: at the end of the game as a seeker. Norgren is a fantastic seeker in his own right, but has been streaky in the past, whereas Heppe has always been automatic. If you can get Heppe tired during the game, he might not have enough energy left to finish things off.

An Example of Heppe’s endless hustle as he chases down what appears to be an easy goal.

It’s a gamble to let another team’s best player go loosely guarded, but Michigan State’s only losses this season are when Heppe has played too much keeper, and therefore can’t seek right away.

The Nameless Ones

When it comes to quidditch analysis, a name often means more than talent in identifying “star players.” Those with less skill get all of the praise because they’re active in the community, while those with more get overlooked again and again.

So, for Northeast Regionals, we’re hoping to flip the script a bit. The list below is full of players that are in the conversation for being some of the best in the region at their position, but few of their reputations expand past the borders of the city they play in. But, name recognition or not, these are some players you’re going to want to check out this weekend.

 

Brian Zanghi – Chaser – Boston Massacre

When I first teased the idea of this article, I got multiple responses that I was writing the “Brian Zanghi” article. So, I felt I had to give the people what they wanted. A year in the Emerson intramural system gave him the experience he needed, while a transfer from Emerson to Boston University gave the Massacre the chance to snatch him up. And,on a team full of talented, and even elite, quaffle players, one could make the argument that Zanghi is the most complete. While each has their weaknesses, Zanghi does everything well, with enough strength, speed and agility to perform well on both sides of the ball, whether passing, driving, or defending. He also has benefitted from the team’s bigger names getting more defensive attention. But the praise is coming, and it’s time to see how the young player will respond.

After a year plying his trade in the Emerson intramural system, Brian Zanghi is now a game-changer for Massacre. Credit: Emily Oliver

After a year plying his trade in the Emerson intramural system, Brian Zanghi is now a game-changer for Massacre. Credit: Emily Oliver

 

James Richter – Chaser – Stony Brook University

Richter is a new chaser for SBU, and he has certainly brought this team even more physicality. James playes the defensive point position well for his youth in the sport. Richter has both the size and strength to tackle any player. But he’s extremely inexperienced, and has yet to develop a full understanding of the sport. He sometimes makes questionable drives, but makes up for it with his athleticism and passing ability.

 

Michael Powell – Chaser – Boston University

How a player of this size and talent continues to get overlooked is beyond me. While Brendan Stack, Max Havlin and Katrina Bossotti get all of the attention, Powell is just as important, providing big minutes and the same kind of physicality as Stack. On defense, Powell usual plays point, with a tackling form as good as anyone in the region. On offense, he’s comfortable handling, playing off ball, and running the patented BU break. The Terriers’ offensive production has always remained almost anonymous, but Powell should change that this weekend.

 

Eli Page – Chaser – Emerson College

Page shouldn’t be a no-name anymore, as I’ve talked about him on multiple occasions, but he’s worth mentioning one more time. Arriving on campus expecting to play lacrosse, Page showed up at a quidditch practice and almost instantly decided to commit himself to the sport instead. All he’s done since is, despite being relatively undersized, become the best point defender on Emerson’s roster. He’s not only comfortable tackling opposing chasers of any size while square to them, but also when taking angles to them or running alongside them. With him at the top of the zone, Emerson’s beaters can sit comfortably a step back, knowing the opposition isn’t coming through. And while the offense isn’t quite where the defense is yet, expect that to change sooner than later.

Despite his size, Eli Page has quickly become one of the Northeast's best point defenders. Credit: Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

Despite his size, Eli Page has quickly become one of the Northeast’s best point defenders. Credit: Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

 

Jerry Astro – Chaser – New York Badasslisks

A new chaser for the Badassilisks, Astro gives this team an impressive point defender, taking a lot of pressure off his beaters and allowing them more freedom in their positioning and decisions. Despite Astro’s defensive abilities, he lacks similar offensive ability. While he shouldn’t be ignored on defense if Jerry can play both sides of the ball he will become an elite threat on this team.

 

Carli Haggerty – Chaser – Harvard University

It shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, but when you take a 6-foot-0 ex-basketball player with a high school state championship to her name and insert her into quidditch, good things happen. The sophomore is already making a name for herself, applying much of the positioning and movement ingrained into her and putting it to use. She’s a difficult assignment for almost any female chaser that covers her, and when she gets the ball has the confidence to drive to the hoops or make a man miss. While her team will have to continue to work on getting her the ball, her display in an Emerson mercenary tournament, when she had the chance to play with more experienced distributors, impressed everyone there. While Tufts’ female chasers get most of the attention in Boston, Haggerty is right up there.

 

Duane Ford – Chaser/Seeker – Syracuse University
Another new player, Duane is a phenomenal athlete, who uses his speed and quickness to drive to the hoops for goals. He also has a fairly good arm and can make good passes when heavily covered. Beyond his skill as a chaser however, Duane is a very skilled seeker as well as a snitch. He is incredibly strong, and uses his quickness and strength to get through a snitch’s guard to make a pull. But don’t be too surprised to see him jump over a snitch to make the grab.

 

Kyle Savarese – Beater – Rochester Institute of Technology.

Transitioning from chaser this year, Savarese has, along with Josh Kramer, helped breathe new life into  RIT’s beater corps. Savarese is a very speedy beater with good positioning, who uses his mobility to set up short throws on defense as well as going up on offense to assist RIT’s drives. He is also adept at regaining bludger control, and has been known to completely change the bludger game with clutch catches.

 

Fina Vitale – Beater – Macaulay Honors College

Vitale has given the female beater line in Macaulay a new dynamic: speed. She utilizes that speed, along with solid arm strength, to anchor the Macaulay defense. While she brings an athletic boost, she does lack the experience that would make her an elite player. But, when confident in herself, she is a dangerous force on the pitch.

 

David Stack – Keeper – Tufts University

Every Northeast class seems to have one truly elite keeper, from John Gaffigan to Brendan Stack to David Fox to Victor Viega. Well, it’s time for Tufts to add one to the list. Freshman David Stack – no relation to Brendan – is a complete keeper. His strengths are on the offensive end, where he mixes an accurate cannon of an arm with speed and one of the sweetest head fakes ever seen in quidditch. He’s not only talented, but consistently makes those around him better. While his defense is not at the elite level of Brendan of Fox, due partially to the fact that he’s smaller, he’s improving rapidly, relying heavily on positioning to make plays. While Steve Mulahoo remains the team’s number one keeper due largely to doing what he does well, I expect Stack to be the better overall player when all is said and done.

 

Brandon McKenzie – Keeper – University of New Haven

Many teams that are overall more competitive than New Haven would kill to have a player of McKenzie’s athletic ability. Objectively, his size, speed, and vertical ability are all elite. But, often times, he does not apply it all in the game. With his team’s move to the BAQC from the SNEQC this season, McKenzie will get more experience against stronger teams, and I expect him to improve rapidly because of it. But it’s a double-edged sword, as stronger teams will be better at preventing him from expressing his talents. McKenzie might break out this weekend, but he also could be held in check as his team struggles.

 

If his team is up to the task, it could be a breakout tournament for Brandon McKenzie. Credit: Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

If his team is up to the task, it could be a breakout tournament for Brandon McKenzie. Credit: Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

Ben Icenogle – Keeper – University of Rochester.
A sophomore who started playing quidditch this year and who made his start for the Thestrals at Turtle Cup, Icenogle has utilized his basketball experience and length to become a formidable defensive keeper for Rochester. With starting keeper/seeker Justin Kieber-King out for Rochester, Icenogle can expect to be playing a lot of minutes this weekend, and his ability to sync with the Rochester offense will have a huge impact on their prospects.

 

Kyle Hoyng – Keeper – SUNY Geneseo.
A key veteran on a young team, Hoyng’s abilities as a leader will impact the team just as heavily as his skills on the field this weekend. Kyle is a quick and strong keeper with good field vision, and an excellent arm. He does an excellent job of driving and dishing the ball off to his other chasers for goals, and is a very stout defender, harkening back to the old build of Geneseo teams.

Devin Sandon and Shenuque Tissera contributed reporting to this article.

 

Aggies back on top with Wolf Pack Win

After spending much of last season at the top of the rankings, Texas A&M proved they belong there again this season with a win at the Wolf Pack Classic. Credit: Ruben Polanco

After spending much of last season at the top of the rankings, Texas A&M proved they belong there again this season with a win at the Wolf Pack Classic. Credit: Ruben Polanco

Despite some last minute drop outs and awful early morning weather conditions, the 2nd Annual Wolf Pack Classic continued as planned: several of the top teams in the IQA battled it out to reestablish the pecking order on who was the best in the Southwest (and in turn, the world of quidditch).

The tournament featured some interregional competition as there were  teams in attendance from the South such as University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Southern Mississippi and University of Southern Alabama. Pool play ended up being a mud battle:  most of every team’s passing game had to be forgone and instead replaced with hero ball and clean up goals. Luckily, before bracket play the fields were shifted and the rain had long since stopped to allow for  much better game play.

Pool 1

University of Texas – 3-0

LSU – 2-1

Florida State University – 1-2

University of Southern Alabama* – 0-3

 

When the pools were first released, everyone saw that UTSA and UT were in the same pool and that quickly drew a lot of hype as the game of the weekend; unfortunately, UTSA withdrew from the tournament leaving  the questions about their rising stardom to remain unanswered for now.

One of the very first games of the day saw UT and LSU face off against one another and for the first few minutes it looked like LSU would be able to hang with UT as the sloppy conditions greatly hindered the Longhorn’s offensive drives. However, once UT got a grip on the conditions and how to handle them they began to pull away significantly. The day didn’t get much easier for LSU as they struggled against both FSU and USA, winning by snitch catches in both games. It should be noted that USA was unofficial for this tournament and had Sean Pagoada on their roster for their game against LSU, which easily contributed to them keeping the score close enough to pull the snitch and take it to overtime.

FSU had a relatively good day and were able to win convincingly against USA and hold LSU to a close loss. Even against UT they appeared to be able to slow down the offense quite a bit and force mistakes to the point where they were able to catch the snitch as soon as it got back on pitch, successfully keeping the Longhorns from a blow out game. Overall, the Longhorns dominated their competition, but not necessarily in as convincing a fashion as they were doing last year. Despite the poor conditions it was still very evident that UT needs to continue to work hard to rebuild their chemistry from last year.

Pool 2

Lone Star QC – 3-0

Austin Quidditch – 2-1

University of Southern Mississippi – 1-2

Mercs* – 0-3

LSQC clearly dominated all the competition in Pool 2. Their biggest competition was AQ who they faced in their first game of the day. The game ended up not being close at all – LSQC displayed a lot of growth in chemistry since Breakfast Taco. Their newer players were much better assimilated onto the team and their passing game was much more in-sync. After that first loss, AQ went on to win handily against both USM and the Merc team. Like their 1st team they still need to gain more experience as a team to build up their chemistry, but they have plenty of depth and athleticism to carry them in the meantime and can easily beat most middle-tier teams.

After performing surprisingly well at the Southern Regionals last season, USM struggled to show off their potential at this tournament. They took hard losses to LSQC and AQ and were taken to overtime by the Merc team. USM does seem like they are on a path to improvement, as they had a number of athletic players and their strategy was much more evolved than it was last year. They just need to make a few adjustments here and there to strategy, improve on their tackling, and get their newer players more in game experience.

Pool 3

Texas A&M University – 3-0

University of Florida – 2-1

Loyola University – 1-2

Tulane University – 0-3

As with the other pools, the top Texas team, TAMU, easily swept through their pool only facing a little challenge during the beginning of their game against UF where they struggled to find their groove on offense. As soon as the Aggies found it, the goals started coming and never really wavered the rest of the day. University of Florida had some great moments and Dre Clements acted as a solid ball carrier making some good drives and passes near the hoops, but ultimately the Aggies were able to shut him down near half field on almost every drive, crippling the Gator offense. After that game, UF was able to better showcase their passing game against Loyola and Tulane where they won both games without much of a problem.  Loyola won the one game they should have and then floundered against the two better teams in their pool. They still have a long way to go to be able to snag one of the Southwest World Cup bids this year. Their beating game was very aggressive and successful but it didn’t matter much as their chasers couldn’t seem to score.

Being a new team at a Southwest tournament is never easy – such as was the case for Tulane, but the takeaway is that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. They will come away from the Wolf Pack Classic with a lot of great experience. Tulane actually had a very good first tournament despite their scores as they seemed to already have a decent grasp of strategy and a good number of athletic players to start really building their team around.

Bracket Play

Play In

FSU 90* – Tulane 10

Loyola 110*^ – USM 70

Quarterfinals

TAMU 180* – Loyola 20

LSQC 90 – FSU 40*

UT 120* – LSU 50

AQ 100* – UF 60

Semifinals

TAMU 140* – AQ 30

LSQC 110* – UT 20

Finals

TAMU 90* – LSQC 10

 

No one was really surprised by the progression of bracket play as Lone Star QC, Texas A&M, and Texas were all expected to easily make it to the semifinals without breaking too much of a sweat, but that fourth spot was a little bit more up in the air depending on how seedings shook out. LSU, Austin Quidditch, and University of Florida were all in the conversation and after LSU got the unlucky draw of facing off against UT in the quarterfinals, it was going to be either AQ or UF. However, LSU had a phenomenal game against UT in the quarterfinals where they were actually within snitch range to make a catch and win the game when the snitch got back on pitch. Brad Armentor had a great game providing most of LSU’s scores off drives to the hoops and Daniel DePaula did a fantastic job of maintaining bludger control when he was on the field and making offensive beats that created open lanes for Armentor to drive through. Ultimately, the Longhorn depth would be LSU’s downfall because as soon as the LSU starters subbed out the UT offense had a pretty easy time putting points on the board. The Longhorn chasers remained patient and avoided getting flustered even when the game was close which helped them to pull ahead towards the end of the game.

The semifinal game of LSQC versus UT proved to be one of the two most surprising matches of the tournament mainly due to the margin by which LSQC won the match. The Longhorns have not lost a game out of snitch range in over two years. Due to the fact the tournament was running late, the remaining teams elected to play some back-to-back games to keep the tournament from running late into the night. Therefore, right after LSQC beat FSU they then almost immediately started warming up to face off against UT, who were coming off a bit of a break. As soon as “Brooms Up” was called it was extremely apparent that LSQC was still riding a wave of adrenaline from the previous game and UT was struggling to achieve any sort of momentum. Bludger control was dominated by LSQC for a majority of the match and offensively their passing game was very well developed as they were able to get multiple passes going around the hoops patiently waiting for a hole to open up for one player to make a shot or drive to the hoops. LSQC truly came into their own in this game, transitioning through subs seamlessly without losing momentum and showing a better glimpse of their potential as a team. While LSQC did dominate, UT also seemed to have an uncharacteristically sloppy game that attributed greatly to the outcome. They were not as poised as they normally are and failed to convert many easy opportunities to score right by the hoops.

Again for the sake of finishing up the tournament at a decent time, both TAMU and LSQC elected to only take a quick break before going ahead and playing the finals. At the start of the match it appeared as though the game was going to be extremely close and easily come down to a snitch catch. TAMU immediately gained bludger control from the start and held onto it for a slight majority of the match, but it did shift back and forth between both sides throughout most of the game. Neither team scored until several minutes prior to the ten minute seeker floor. During that time LSQC missed out on two easy goals that could have shifted the momentum in their favor early on. Texas A&M scored first and from that point on they dominated the match. They played shut-down defense such that  LSQC could barely get their passing game going as the pressure against them was so fast they had no time to ever really survey the field for open passing options. TAMU picked up the pace of their game and LSQC simply could not keep up as it constantly forced them to tire out and make mistakes. LSQC also attempted a different subbing strategy at chaser by always leaving in one of their three veterans, Simon Arends, Kody Marshall, and Beto Natera, along with one rookie chaser, but this plan backfired as those players became too exhausted to compete with the highly athletic and constantly fresh Aggie chasers. Regardless, once Texas A&M gained the momentum they didn’t back down and proved that once again they deserve to be recognized as the top quidditch team in the world. They carried every game well out of snitch range and set the bar high for what the rest of the Southwest will have to compete with at the Lone Star Cup.

 

All-Tournament Team

This team was established after collaboration with various captains and players that were in attendance at the Wolf Pack Classic.

Stephen Bell – Lone Star Quidditch – Keeper

The man with one of the most graceful strides in the league continues to impress with his performance at the 2nd Annual Wolf Pack Classic. Stephen Bell displayed the same fantastic gameplay on both sides of the ball that he became widely recognized for last season. On defense he consistently made great blocks and interceptions that helped maintain the momentum for Lone Star QC throughout the day, especially in their semifinal game against the reigning World Champs, the University of Texas. He also ran a very smooth offense as a primary ball carrier where he was able to unite a chaser line that is still struggling some due to a lack of chemistry.

Drew Wasikowski – Texas A&M – Chaser/Keeper

It was no surprise that Drew Wasikowski showed up to this tournament with his A game, especially after having the benefit of a couple weeks of practice to make adjustments to his game after they suffered losses to LSQC and UT at Breakfast Taco. Wasikowski has been steadily improving each year as he has trained harder to put on a significant amount of muscle mass and hone his basic skill sets such as shooting, passing, and tackling to near perfection. He demonstrated large improvements to his point defending game, which was already very solid to begin with, but now he has stepped it up even more to where he engaged in contact at a lightning speed and never allowed an opposing player to slip away from him.

Brad Armentor – Louisiana State University – Chaser

After the Summer Games, Mr. Armentor seemed to fall off most people’s quidditch radars for top players, especially considering LSU’s struggles last year. However, at THE Fantasy Tournament Brad Armentor displayed a renewed fire in his game which continued to be shown off at the Wolf Pack Classic. His stamina has improved quite a bit as he was in a majority of every game for LSU where almost any time there wasn’t a bludger facing off against him, he would successfully drive for an easy score. Although many times he preferred the role of the distributer where he would first juke the point defender and then accurately loft the quaffle off to one of his teammates behind the hoops. He has been working hard to diversify his skill sets, and it was very evident in New Orleans.

Keri Callegari – Lone Star Quidditch – Chaser

As a recent graduate from Texas A&M, Keri Callegari has been transitioning well into the high caliber offense of Lone Star QC. Callegari is a very multifaceted player that has the capability to either drive the ball to the hoops herself or fall into a receiver role by consistently finding the open areas around the hoops. Most notable is her tenacity on the pitch where she will never give up on a play and always exerts 100% of her energy every time she steps on the pitch to play. She is exceptionally scrappy and many times can keep a seemingly dead offensive play alive by continuing the fight for a loose quaffle. Her high intensity game play was paramount in helping LSQC maintain momentum throughout the Wolf Pack Classic.

Mathieu Gregoire – Texas A&M – Chaser/ Beater

For the first time in quite a while, Mathieu Gregoire donned a white headband that he hasn’t regularly worn since before World Cup IV. As soon as he set foot on the pitch, though, no one would have guessed that beater has been his primary position the past few years. Mathieu is naturally athletic and a highly intelligent quidditch player with experience dating back to when the World Cup was still held at Middlebury. At Wolf Pack he proved to be an extremely well rounded chaser where he could fit into almost any given role depending on the situation. He acted as a receiver behind the hoops, a ball carrier, a point defender and even a distraction for opposing beaters when necessary. Then without missing a beat (literally) he was able to switch back to his black headband in the finals for some time and help set the pace for what would eventually be a dominating Texas A&M victory.

Mollie Lensing – Lone Star Quidditch -Beater

Starting her second year out of Texas A&M, Mollie still plays a level above and beyond most other beaters, which is impressive considering she spent the last year mostly chasing for the Silver Phoenixes and as a result didn’t get much time in the spotlight. What makes Mollie so fearsome on the pitch is her speed, her beater IQ, and her tenacity. With male beaters like Eric Willroth and Bo Roth, who have been playing beater for a relatively short amount of time, Mollie has had to take charge by commanding the field and by verbally coordinating strategy on and off the pitch. Her leadership and overall dominance as a beater is what Lensing is known for and was well-displayed in New Orleans.

Sean Fry – Texas A&M – Beater

Another player seemingly switched around into a different position for Texas A&M this year is Sean Fry. He has been a utility player the past two years for TAMU where he has dabbled in chasing, keeping, and beating; however, this year it appears that Fry will serve primarily as a beater for the Aggies. Previously at beater he displayed a lot of aggression, speed, and relentlessness to maintain bludger control which unfortunately sometimes clouded his judgment and led to some poor strategic decisions, but at the Wolf Pack Classic Fry really showed off his growth in the position where he featured a new found sense of finesse and poise on defense. His accuracy has also improved dramatically, making him an even more dangerous beater to go up against if you are an opposing chaser.

Kenny Chilton – University of Texas – Chaser/ Seeker

As one of the few returning players from the World Champion team, Kenny Chilton has really stepped up to become a true leader and playmaker for the University of Texas this season. Even when he isn’t on the field, he is constantly yelling from the sidelines to keep his team hyped which definitely makes a bigger difference towards a team’s performance than most people realize. Chilton is the ideal team player in that he always does whatever his team needs of him. He starts at beater to guarantee bludger control for his team, then subs in at chaser periodically with the ability to be an excellent point defender or receiver on offense, and finally he subs in as on-field seeker to quickly finish off a game. He is quite a force to be reckoned with at seeker as he has really perfected a great two handed technique that is very difficult for snitches to fend off.

Kifer Gregoire – Texas A&M – Chaser/ Seeker

With both Luke Wigley and Dirk absent from the Wolf Pack Classic, Kifer Gregoire had to take over some of the on pitch seeking duties for Texas A&M, and he definitely did not disappoint as he caught two snitches at the tournament. By utilizing his strength and quickness in conjecture with an unyielding pressure on the snitch, Kifer has become a very threatening seeking backup for the Aggies. As a chaser, he continued to perform at the  high level of play that has been regularly seen from him. In New Orleans, he may have established himself as the best current point defender in quidditch. He was already widely recognized as one of the top players in that area, but this tournament showcased improvements to his overall speed and quickness where he was able to completely freeze opposing players at half field and then engage in a successful takedown within a few seconds.

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.

 

Lumberjack Invitational Recap

The morning air was crisp and people’s mouths emitted soft clouds with every exhale. Hands were buried deep in hoodie pouches and sweat pant pockets as people started arriving at the field. This wasn’t some tournament in the old lands of quidditch in the North, nor was it the Trial by Fire. This was the 2nd Annual Lumberjack Invitational, sponsored by the Northern Arizona University Narwhals.

SCORES:

Lost Boys 160* – Arizona State 30 (22:55)

Northern Arizona 160* – Arizona 20 (13:28)

Arizona State 140* – Quid Pro Quo 30 (22:45)

Lost Boys 160* – Quid Pro Quo 10 (17:40)

Northern Arizona 220 – Quid Pro Quo 80* (25:38)

Arizona State 170* – Arizona 10 (18:38)

Lost Boys 180 – Northern Arizona 120* (29:30)

Lost Boys 210* – Arizona 0 (18:00)

Arizona State 90* – Northern Arizona 60 (18:00)

Arizona 100* – Quid Pro Quo 90 (18:22)

 

SEMIFINALS:

(1)Lost Boys 110 – (4)Arizona 30* (11:22)

(2)Arizona State 130* – (3)Northern Arizona 50 (20:00)

 

FINAL:

(1)Lost Boys 220* – (2)Arizona State 30

 

MVP – Vanessa Goh (Lost Boys)

lost boys 2

The Lost Boys. Credit: tumblr

Lost Boys Quidditch – 1st Place (6-0)

The Lost Boys came into this tournament as the favorites to win it all and didn’t disappoint. New additions Vanessa Goh, Jeff Lin, and Tiffany Chow made an instant impact as a fierce starting chaser line. With stud beaters Chris Seto and Michael Mohlman in front of Tony Rodriguez at Keeper, the 1st line looked to be as talented as the team’s new ranking would imply. Even though their depth wasn’t all there with part of their team still in Los Angeles, beater Mitch Cavender came out and showed that he’s more than just an afterthought. Their defense stood strong and kept opponents’ scoring chances low – when they let it happen at all.

Despite their dominance this tournament, there are still areas for the Lost Boys to improve on. NAU scored 90 Quaffle points against them, and and at the start of the day they seemed to need a little time before pulling away from ASU. They leave Lumberjack with the championship and the MVP, but their biggest test comes October 19th in the SCQC Championships, where they’ll be facing USC & UCLA.

 

Arizona State University – 2nd Place (4-2)

ASU is under new management and has revamped their strategy. They brought nine beaters to make sure their lines had fresh legs on a long day of play. As could be expected, Alex Makk was the everyman for ASU, filling in at beater when they needed bludger control back and going in at chaser when they needed offensive production. With the loss of keeper Willie Jackson, newcomer Aaron Hill primarily filled the spot. Hill fits well to the mold of Willie Jackson, and did very well in his first tournament. The interesting thing about the team was that with their massive stable of beaters, they may have rotated too many people in and out. Against Lost Boys & NAU, ASU’s best beater Duston Mazzela spent extra time on the sidelines when most would assume they would sub the person next to him to maintain top strength.

 

Northern Arizona University – 3rd Place (2-3)

NAU came into the season off an Elite 8 run in World Cup VI. They had very little loss of talent and a ton of new players. While everyone knows who seeker Porter Marsh is, their season will fall more on the shoulders of their offense. In all three losses at Lumberjack, their chasers seemed to settle for long passes instead of driving to the hoops. Their strength came when their new, more physical players used their aggression to get in close. Let it be known that NAU comes with a serious physical force now. This team is better than last year’s; however they are very prone to penalties. Two losses to rival ASU hurts their status but I would suggest that if last year taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t underestimate these Narwhals.

Lost Boys chaser Tiffany Chow catches the quaffle against ASU.

Lost Boys chaser Tiffany Chow catches the quaffle against ASU. Credit: Natalie Volin

University of Arizona – 4th Place (1-4)

Arizona is one of the weaker teams in the Western Region. They came into Lumberjack hoping to see where they stood against the top and came out with some clear answers. They tend to run a Baylor-style defense, but lack the physicality to do it as effectively. Their beaters and chasers seemed out of sync. The team has its upsides, but most likely needs another season before having a chance to crack into the truly competitive levels of Western teams.

 

Quid Pro Quo – 5th (0-4)

The record doesn’t tell the whole story of this team. While they didn’t win, they were up against University of Arizona with a very banged up roster. Low in numbers, they were great players and sportsmanship was high with them. If this team can just clone themselves and give themselves a 15-16 person roster, their record for this season could look much different. They have players that if added to top level teams would get their name known by other regions quickly (See: Mitch Dumas).

Game of Northeast Thrones

Winter has arrived in the Northeast Region. For years, rumors of unnatural talents from far off lands usurping the title from its original home remained nothing more than that due to the valiant efforts of Middlebury. But last year, the five-time champions looked more like residents of Flea Bottom than kings, and their early exit left no one to retain the throne.

Now, it the region will need to go to war to get take their honor back. But first, they will fight for control of their own lands. On the throne in the Northeast sits House Boston University, the often despised but always respected leaders. The house  has a deadly queen in beater Katrina Bossotti, who will need to return to her former levels of play after studying abroad in the spring, and perhaps the region’s best swordsman, err, keeper, in Brendan Stack – also missing in the spring – but the house’s true power lies in the undersized but strategically gifted Max Havlin. Havlin, who often ran the point last year in the team’s fast-break offense, will be converting to beater after an extremely successful summer at the position, which culminated in helping take Zach D’Amico’s Northeast Fantasy side to the semifinals. Havlin and Bossotti could be the scariest beater pair this side of the western region.

"Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!"

“Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”

House Boston’s most hated rivals, House Emerson, has long been at war with the crown, boasting an impressive family lineage and a long and proud history. David Fox is the King in the North these days, an elite driver who can also pass while playing defense in a way that would make The Wall proud. In his chaser line’s, Pablo Santiago is the often overlooked star. Mixing speed, surprising strength, and incredible technique, Santiago is the perfect cog in Emerson’s pass-first offense. Add in the play of their beating corps, led by Aaron Wohl and CJ Junior, and you get one of the most well-rounded teams in the region.

However, Emerson will have to deal with one of the most gruesome moments in quidditch history, the Red Massacre, in which House Massacre did House Boston a huge favor by taking a handful of current Emerson students, most notably keeper Victor Viega, from them. With their ranks scattered, and key players gone, we will have to see if Emerson can respond.

"BU sends their regards."

“BU sends their regards.”

But while Emerson picks up the pieces, House Massacre could take over their spot as true competitor for the throne, mixing Viega with what was already one of the scariest chaser lines in the Northeast. Kedzie Teller proved over the summer that even with a season off his speed and physicality are as good as ever, Zach D’Amico will be using his deep knowledge of the game to help lead his new team, and Jayke Archibald add the perfect combo of skill and flair. Expect them to look a lot like a combination of Villanova’s precision passing with the fast break offense of Boston University. Backing that all up is beater Kara Levis, ready to bring west coast beating strategy from her time at UCLA to the Northeast.

House Tufts, meanwhile, continues to make attempts at grandeur, but remains under the iron grip of House Boston, who blew them out multiple times last season, including the Northeast Regional semifinals. While their fast farm lands have produced plenty of new young talent for the coming year, it’s hard to say they’ll have enough after losing talented seeker and beater Nick Ryder. But beater Mike Sanders impressed in the Northeast over the summer, and keeper Steve Mulahoo has only gotten better since his one-man defensive stand kept his team in a game against Maryland back in February. But taking over the throne seems like a stretch for this squad.

While those in Boston might have the clearest claims to the throne, others on the outskirts can make moves as well. Rumors of true power are sprouting from the far-off lands of Rochester, where House Rochester is easily disposing of all opposition. And they are doing it with some of the most powerful weapons in the region, with both chaser Devin Sandon and seeker Justin Keiber-King set to take flight. Sandon had a phenomenal summer, leading two different fantasy teams to the finals with his mix of speed, agility and physicality. Keiber-King, meanwhile went 3-for-3 in SWIM situations at Champagne Cup and could be the elite seeker the region has long been looking for. But like most stories built on rumors, Rochester may not truly be tested until the region comes to them to compete for the throne that sits on their once hallowed grounds.

"I will take what is mine with fire and blood."

“I will take what is mine with fire and blood.”

House Hofstra continues to be a menace to the region from its island perch, where it is capable of taking down even the region’s strongest houses, as it proved last year when it blew out Tufts. But the times of successfully pilfering often come to an end, and with the loss of captain Jayke Archibald to graduation, the team is at risk of cracking. Alex Leitch remains a dominating presence at beater, but when he was locked up at World Cup – thankfully with no torture involved – the team fell apart. Will he be enough to keep things going strong this year?

Another squad that will struggle with losses is House NYU, which benefitted greatly from Amanda Dallas, the “Master of Coins,” whose dealing allowed her to acquire some of the best unclaimed talent in the region. But she has left for greener pastures in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Merchant Marines are mostly gone with her, leaving her house scrambling to recover. Kyle Jeon seems to be a proven male beater, and Lucy Miller is perhaps the most underrated female quaffle player in the region, but NYU was never much before the marines were there, and it remains to be seen whether they can be with them gone.

Game of Northeast 4
House Macaulay has long been the darlings of the region, getting by on an underdog image and a good attitude. But when war comes, everyone has to fight, and it appears they will be coming back with a bit more sting this season. Andrew Zagelbaum will be back from injury and impressed all summer as a seeker, including for the Northeast Fantasy champions. Shenuque Tissera has long watched the teams around him develop, and seems ready to take his side to the next level while serving as a vital utility player. But whether they have enough size and talent to compete with the best in the region remains to be seen.

It’s hard to imagine many other teams competing for the throne, though there are plenty of World Cup spots for someone else to make a name for themselves. House Middlebury remains locked up in their castle, refusing to take place in the wars. House RIT has strength, but can’t seem to get out of the shadows of big brother Rochester, even with the development of players like Andrew Hollenbach. A better set of beaters could be their key to victory. House Geneseo seems to have taken a step in the wrong direction, getting outgunned in their first tournament of the year, while House Badassilisks has to deal with a minor Red Massacre of their own, losing valuable players to the Capitalists.

What it all boils down to is that there is plenty up for grabs in the Northeast. Will anyone rise up to challenge the players of the Boston area? Can House Emerson recover? Can Rochester finally take the jump to true regional contender? All that remains to be seen as we take our first steps into the new season.