2013 North Central Regionals Preview (Mixed)

USA Ultimate North Central Region.With just two losses on the season — one in the finals of the Pro-Elite Challenge at the Philly Invite and the other in the finals of the Pro Flight Finale, the consistently excellent Iowa Chad Larson Experience is once again at the top of the Mixed game.

Ranked in the top 3 of the Ultiworld Power Rankings all season, CLX relies on a core of outstanding women’s players to lead the team to success. It doesn’t hurt that four players from the offensive line on the 2010 World Championships team returns this year.

CLX captain Kevin Seiler was clear about the teams intentions at the Philly Invite: they want to defend that World Club title.

“Earning a bid to play in Italy is a major goal of the season this year, along with winning our first national title,” he told Ultiworld.

The road to Italy starts close to home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. While they come into the tournament as the undisputed one seed, they will, as usual, face a tough challenge from Minneapolis Drag’N Thrust.

Drag’N has played well this year, although they didn’t have quite the outstanding regular season that they did a year ago, when they won the Chesapeake Invite and took down CLX. They would go on to fall to CLX at Regionals, 15-13, in the finals.

It’s been three years since Drag’N won the Region, back when it was the Central Region, which also encompassed Illinois and Michigan. CLX has taken the title in back-to-back years.

As usual, this year, the title is up for grabs. CLX edged Drag’N in the first round of the Pro Flight Finale 14-13.

Drag’N gets great production out of many of their players. James Hron is dangerous downfield and Dave Klink is a strong veteran presence. Alicia Carr, Sarah Meckstroth, and Erica Baken can match up with any women in the Mixed Division.

These two teams will almost certainly make the finals and advance to the Club Championships.

Standing in their way are Minnesota Star Power and Madison NOISE, two quality Regionals-level teams that, on a very good day, could put together a strong game against one of the two North Central powerhouses. Minnesota Star Power comes in as the three seed after taking down NOISE at Sectionals, although NOISE beat them 15-9 at the Cooler Classic in mid-August.

Neither team really has an outstanding win to their name; they’ve mostly beaten other Regional quality teams. Minnesota Star Power traveled to Seattle for the Emerald City Classic — they went 2-5 with wins over Denver Mesteño and Sunnyvale BW Ultimate.

Given the tournament format which places the 1v2 pool play game in the last round on Saturday, we may see these teams try to take a shot at a big win as opposed to saving their energy. An upset would mean a finals berth and two shots at a bid.

Don’t count it as likely, though. CLX and Drag’N Thrust have consistently qualified for the Club Championships for years and are the two best non-coastal teams in the country.

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