WUGC East Coast Tryouts Show Excellence From Top To Bottom On Saturday

Deep talent showed through on the first day of east coast tryouts.

Photo by Henrik Meng.
Team USA Women’s head coach Matty Tsang. Photo by Henrik Meng.

KISSIMMEE — After a grueling first weekend in Phoenix, players from the eastern half of the country – as well as a few western stragglers – flocked to central Florida on Saturday for the chance to earn a spot on one of three Team USA squads for the World Ultimate and Guts Championships this summer at the second round of Team USA tryouts.

It may seem obvious, but there was not much separation between the men’s tryouts on Saturday; every player at the tryout was elite. Kurt Gibson was the only player who truly separated himself from the rest of the field. Gibson’s throws and athletic dynamism were unparalleled — he was the most dominant male player by a notable margin.

However, other players certainly proved capable of big plays and consistent performance. Jonathan “Goose” Helton was one of the most dominant defenders and a solid player on offense throughout the day, living up to his status as one of the recognizable players in the field.

Perhaps a bit more surprisingly, Trent Dillon emerged as an elite cutting talent, routinely getting open deep for big gains. He appeared to be one of the tougher and more troublesome players to cover for opposing defenses, as he tirelessly and aggressively surged to gain space from his defender. As points dragged on and the day progressed into its later stages, Dillon continued to work hard and give his throwers an open target. He showed off an intense determination and athletic ability that set himself apart as one the most dangerous offensive players in Kissimmee on Saturday.

Beyond the few to make athletic plays a bit more frequently than the rest of the pack, virtually every player in the men’s field impressed at least a few times and no player seemed out of his depth. If there was one, the biggest takeaway from Saturday is that the men’s field in Kissimmee was so talented and deep that there really was no gulf in talent or an emergence of tiers of players. The coaches will have a difficult task of whittling down this group, and this was just half of the field trying out for the USA teams.

The women’s field was, in many ways, reflective of how the men’s played out on Saturday. Opi Payne was the most dominant woman in the field, proving uncoverable downfield and equally as dangerous with her throws. Payne effortlessly clicked with both male and female teammates and nearly always won her matchup on both offense and defense. Like Gibson, she was able to separate herself from an otherwise very evenly matched field.

Sandy Jorgensen was another who drew the attention of her fellow tryout attendees. Her well-known athleticism proved to be a weapon on Saturday; at one point she exploded past the target of a Gibson throw for an interception in a mixed scrimmage. Like Payne, she was equally as noticeable on the mixed field as the women’s field.

Crystal Davis was another to put some space between herself and her peers on the first day of tryouts. Davis used her speed and size expertly and was one of the more dominant downfield cutters in the women’s group.

Other players like Georgia Bosscher made highlight reel plays, and well known stars like Leila Tunnell, Lien Hoffman, Sarah Itoh, and Sarah Meckstroth certainly did nothing to hurt their chances of making Team USA, but for the most part, as with the men, the group was defined by its top-to-bottom talent.

With day one in the books, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the tryout plays out. Will there be more players that set themselves apart from the rest of the pack, either negatively or positively? While entertaining for the players and spectators alike, the universal talent level across the tryout is surely making the coaches’ and selection committees’ job truly difficult.

  1. Daniel Prentice
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    Daniel Prentice is a Senior Staff Writer at Ultiworld. Daniel is a product of the Tallahassee ultimate community and has been writing for Ultiworld since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @danielprent and email him at daniel.prentice@ultiworld.com.

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