DIII Regional Preview: South Central (Open)

For the second time in the last three years, the Tulsa Ultimate Federation will play host the USA Ultimate South Central DIII Conference Championships. As the largest and one of the most competitive DIII Conferences in the nation, the South Central Conference will play host to some exciting small school ultimate this weekend.

With 3 bids on the line to DIII Nationals in Milwaukee, and at least 5 deserving teams for those bids, Sunday should be an exciting time in this region.

Ultiworld is excited to be covering South Central DIII Conference Championships with live posts, interviews, videos, and pictures. You can follow it all on twitter at @SouthCentralD3.

POOL A

A1 – Harding
A2 – Rice
A3 – Missouri S&T
A4 – Hendrix
A5 – Tulsa
A6 – Midwestern State

POOL B

A1 – Trinity
A2 – Truman State
A3 – John Brown
A4 – Air Force
A5 – Drury
A6 – Dallas

THE CONTENDERS

Harding (#6 UW, #8 USAU)

Since the formation of DIII Conferences in USAU, no other team has been more consistently dominate in theirs than Harding has been. After appearing on the national stage in 2011, Apocalypse seemed primed for an even greater return in 2012. However, a shocking conference championship game upset by upstart Rice (made even worse by the fact that the South Central DIII region only provided 1 bid to Nationals) left Harding to wait out the national show in their hometown of Searcy, Arkansas.

Fast-forward to the 2013 college season where Harding looks to avenge that loss and make their second appearance at DIII Nationals. Undeniably, the 2013 version of Apocalypse is centered around Nick Doores, Tucker Bankston, and, of course, Taren Goins (2012 1st team South Central-All Region). A contributing factor for 4 years, Doores’ intense, athletic style as well as his field awareness as a downfield cutter will make him a joy to watch on offense. However, his greatest contribution to Apocalypse will be his role as shut down defender.

On the offensive side, look for Tucker Bankston to bring down discs in the end zone with consistency. Bankston’s speed and disc reading abilities will make defenders look silly as he flies over them for the score. These discs will originate from the team’s main handler, Taren Goins. A lot can be said about Goins, and a lot has been said. Simply put, his short bursts of speed and pinpoint hucks drive defenders crazy, and that isn’t even mentioning his heart for the game and competitive spirit. The Goins-Bankston connection should be clicking all weekend long, and Harding will roll through the weekend and into Milwaukee.

Rice (#10 UW, #15 USAU)

Cloud 9 Ultimate handed the college ultimate world one of the biggest upsets of the 2012 season, a 13-10 victory over Harding to secure the only DIII Nationals bid out of the South Central region. Therefore, it only seems fitting that Rice would return to the top of the conference in 2013. With a 3rd place finish at 2012 DIII Nationals, Cloud 9 looks to build upon last year’s successes. Due to scheduling mishaps, the DIII Warmup in Riverside, California was Rice’s only true tournament this past year. There they lost to #11 St. John’s and #1 Puget Sound, other powers in their respective conferences. Because of this, Rice has been untested all year against in-conference opponents.

Kevin Shen, Michael Drewry, and Salman Eraj drive Cloud 9 as captains and the core of this team. Look for Drewry and Eraj to be bringing down discs from Shen’s position as center handler. On the defensive front, freshman Alex Kundrot will be making a name for himself as a defensive power in the conference. While seeded rather low (4th overall), Rice should make a return to Nationals this year and will seek to develop their program on the whole.

Truman State (#17 UW, #12 USAU)

A thoroughly deep team, Truman State wants to further their 2013 campaign and snag the 3rd and final nationals bid for the South Central region. With their only in-conference game this season being a 15-8 victory over Missouri S&T, JujiTSU is also untested against other local competition. The highlight of the year has been a 6-1 showing at Midwest Throwdown, which included a 15-13 victory over #16 North Park. Led by Juniors Tom Crockett and Tim Fergus, Truman State is definitely set up to go far this weekend. If they can get past Trinity and John Brown, it may be clear sailing for Truman into the Championship bracket.

Trinity (#10 USAU)

Depending on the outcome of the weekend, Trinity may very well be the story of the year in DIII College Ultimate. After a bumpy ride the last 2 years, Turbulence has made a name for itself in 2013. The only way to cap off this stellar season will be to snag a bid to Nationals, the first ever bid for the program from San Antonio. Marching thru the Heart of Texas Huckfest undefeated, Trinity was also able to grab some victories against in-conference opponents John Brown and Tulsa.

Trinity comes into this weekend with a deep team and strong core of senior leadership. If this weekend goes Trinity’s way, expect to hear the names Spencer Nelson, Ben Sheiner, Josh Vanderslice, and Brooks Lyford. Lyford brings the most to the table for Turbulence as team captain. His skills on both sides of the disc, as well as his clearly seen team leadership, make him a force that will be difficult for opponents to stop. No matter what happens this weekend, Trinity has begun to make a name for themselves in the DIII circuit and will undoubtedly continue developing over the next few years.

DARK HORSES

John Brown

Losing only two starters from the 2012 campaign, Ironfist has developed their freshmen and rookies to the point to where they can make some noise this weekend. The stars of the show for Ironfist have been Jacob Moore, Andrew Goode, and Chris Genheimer. Genheimer, a native of South Africa, is the most well-rounded player on the field for JBU. With peak conditioning and a complete arsenal of throws, he will be making plays on both the defensive and offensive ends.

Other players to watch:
Jacob Moore – Center handle who also can be found on defense.
Andrew Goode – Athletic cutter with terrific body control.

Missouri S&T

After appearing at the inaugural USAU DIII Championships in 2010, Miner Threat has been rather quiet on the national stage. Jesse Jacobs, a lanky cutter with superb speed, and Bryce Schumacher, a 5th year handler with solid break throws, want to lead Miner Threat to previous glories and return them to the national tournament. However, the experience of Jacobs and Schumacher may not be enough to put them back in the spotlight.

Other Players to watch:
Jeremy Covey – Huge offensive player with speed and ups.
Dillon Feely – Rookie handle who likes the handle cuts.

Air Force (#18 UW)

From personal experience of playing four years in the South Central Region, I’ve learned you can never count out Air Force. Their athleticism is some of the best in the conference and it shows in the 2013 squad. Greg Kidd and Gavin O’Neal uses their vertical strength to grab discs away from opposing defenders. If there is one name people recognize from this Air Force squad, it’s Wes Clark. With spot on throws and a significant understanding of the game, most teams have difficulty taking him on.

Other Players to watch:
Parker Quinn and Krishna Rengan – Primary handles who can throw anywhere on the field.

EVERYONE ELSE

Hendrix

A consistently middle of the pack team when it comes to the conference tournament, the Flying Squirrels of Hendrix showed a possibility of change in this year’s conference tournament by their early season result. By going 4-1 in pool play at Mardi Gras and making it to the semifinals before losing to in-state rival, Arkansas, 13-4, Hendrix proved that it can play with the big names and plans on doing that this weekend. William Haden-Chomphosy, the primary handle for Hendrix, often times is the most dominate player on the field because of his quick reactions and desire for the big layout. Sam Bondurant anchors the team as captain, and is often times difficult for defenders to guard due to his height and size.

Other players to watch:
Erik Urban – Reciver with the capabilites to beat any defender to the disc.

Tulsa

Undeniably, the highlight of the year for Party Fowl was their showing at Heart of Texas Huckfest, going savage through the weekend, posting an undefeated record through pool play, and making it to the semifinals where they lost to eventual champions and in-conference opponent, Trinity, 11-6. The heart and soul of the team are captains Austin Weaver and Allen Greenlief. Both captains make explosive plays on both sides of the disc (Weaver with his throws and Greenlief with his speed) and both are versatile players, capable of playing all around the field.

Other Players to watch
Erik Shook – Explosive sophomore who loves to make the picturesque layouts.

Drury

Drury’s only competition against in conference teams has been a 10-15 loss to Trinity and a 6-13 loss to Harding. After not attending the 2012 South Central Conference Championships and a 7-7 record in 2013, Drury will have to do a lot to make noise against the big names of the conference

Midwestern State

A first year team, from Wichita Falls, Texas, Cavalry will be make their first appearance on the USAU circuit.

Key Players: Joel Smith

University of Dallas

Another newer team, UDU will attempt to introduce itself to the South Central DIII Conference. With a 3-4 record on the year, there are a lot of unknowns with UDU. On the offensive side, Christian and Austin Walker will drive the show, with rookie Adam Brill playing tight defense.

Key Players: Austin Walker

GAMES TO WATCH

Pool A

11:00am – Saturday – Harding (A1) vs. Rice (A2) – A rematch of the 2012 Conference
Championship game

9:00am – Sunday – Harding (A1) vs. Tulsa (A5) – Not calling an upset, but can Tulsa use home field advantage to possibly catch the top seed off guard on the first game of the second day?

Pool B

9:00am – Saturday – Trinity (B1) vs. John Brown (B3) – First game of the tournament is a rematch from the Heart of Texas Huckfest where Trinity won on universe point. Ironfist will be ready for a grudge match to start the weekend.

11:00am – Saturday – Trinity (B1) vs Truman State (B2) – If JBU provides not to be an issue for Trinity, expect Truman to provide quite a test for Trinity.

  1. Taylor Stamps
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    Taylor Stamps is a graduate of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. While at JBU, Taylor was a 4-year starter, Club President, and Club Captain for JBU Ironfist. Since graduation, Taylor has lived in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he plays ultimate amidst the Oklahoma winds.

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