The first big test for the best of the Midwest.
April 6, 2018 by Zakk Mabrey and Charlie Eisenhood in Preview with 0 comments
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With April comes the rise of high school ultimate. This weekend, 20 high school boys teams will converge on Indianapolis, Indiana, to participate in the 2018 Indy Invite. Amongst these teams are four of the nation’s Top 25, looking to prove themselves against the Midwest’s best.
- Date: April 7-8
- Location: Indianapolis, IN
- Weather: Sunny but cold, highs in the low 40s
- Top 25 teams: 4
#7 Neuqua Valley, #9 Center Grove, #16 Central Kentucky Homeschoolers, and #17 Holy Family Catholic–four of the best teams in the Midwest–seem destined for a showdown this weekend.
Neuqua Valley has continually proven themselves as one of the Midwest’s biggest and best ultimate programs. Coach Arnoush Javaherian is one of the country’s elite youth coaches, and this year is no different. The Neuqua Valley team enters the tournament ranked seventh in the country. Led by senior and U-20 Team USA member Joey Kennedy, Neuqua hopes to claim the top spot in the Midwest as they look to earn a berth to the High School National Invite.
Center Grove spent a large portion of last year ranked first in the nation. Despite a handful of graduates last year, Center Grove still returns a strong roster. U20 tryout invitees Alex Henderson and Dustin Baird are the big playmakers that you will see from the Trojans. Despite the big names, coach Jake Phillips prides Center Grove on being a deep team that focuses on systematic play. In their season premiere at their home tournament, Indiana Warm Up, Center Grove once again showed themselves as the top team in Indiana, winning the tournament with ease, going 7-0 on the weekend. With the hopes of yet another Indiana State Championship, and another appearance at the High School National Invite, Center Grove looks to continue their strong start to the season.
Holy Family Catholic is another prestigious program in attendance. Holy Family Catholic has been a long-standing and consistently competitive team both throughout the Midwest and Nationally. At Rivertown Throwdown, Holy Family Catholic took a tough 8-6 loss to Pi, the Central Kentucky Homeschoolers. The question: does that loss say more about HFC or about Pi?
Central Kentucky Homeschool is back in Ultiworld’s Top 25 after a strong performance at Rivertown Throwdown. Pi already has wins against Holy Family Catholic, Mason, Paideia, and Knoxville STEM this spring. They are currently undefeated against High School teams in 2018. Pi lost nine seniors from last year’s team. With a younger team now, Pi relies heavily on team chemistry to help push for success. As a last-minute addition to Indy Invite, Central Kentucky Homeschoolers will be bringing a smaller, split-squad to Indy Invite.
Their strong performance so far this year has already earned them a bid to the High School National Invite.
Looking To Make a Splash
Last year, sixth seeded Madison East took second at the Wisconsin State Championships. This year, the team hopes to take the next step. After losing just one player from last year’s squad, East brings back a team loaded with talent.
Could this be the year that Madison East takes the next step? They have closes losses to Neuqua Valley already this year. Now, with the spring starting, they look to climb even higher, and they hope to pick up a couple of wins against big name teams. Indy Invite will provide them an opportunity to play against top-tier competition and get noticed on the national scene.
Fox Valley Fusion is also looking at a big season. With a big senior class featuring some strong YCC experience, expectations are high. Watch for John Chirayil and Matt Sweeney to lead the way for a team hunting for upsets in pool play.
De Smet, the top team in Missouri year after year, is getting their tournament season started after a year in which they finished 14th at the High School National Invite. They were the last team into the tournament last year — seeded 16th — and they will look to start building their case for an invite again this season with a strong weekend in Indianapolis.
After starting the year ranked seventh in Ultiworld’s Top 25, Mason dropped out of the rankings following a tough 11-4 loss to Central Kentucky Homeschoolers at the Rivertown Throwdown. But the team was missing a number of starters and had just two subs at the weather-shortened tournament. It’s safe to expect a bounce back, but will it be enough to climb back into the Top 25? They were one of the most impressive teams in the country last season, finishing fourth at the HSNI with wins over then-#1 Center Grove and Holy Family Catholic before falling to eventual champion Catholic in semifinals. After graduating many of their top contributors, Mason looks to show that they still belong amongst the country’s elite.
Four schools this weekend sent both A/B or Varsity/JV teams. Fox Valley Fusion, Center Grove, Neuqua Valley, and De Smet are all sending B-teams. Although the likelihood of these teams having a significant impact on the bracket is low, this is indicative of the continuing development of high school programs.
Players to Watch
- Alex Henderson (Center Grove)
- Joey Kennedy (Neuqua Valley)
- Axel Agami (Mason)
- Michael Schuster (HFC)
- Caleb Montgomery (Pi)
- John Chirayil (Fox Valley)
- Dustin Baird (Center Grove)