Recognizing the top seven performers of the 2022 season.
July 7, 2022 by Michael Ball in Awards with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s 2022 College Awards are presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp; all opinions are those of the author(s). NUTC helps young players become better athletes and community members.
Each year, Ultiworld presents our annual College Awards. Our staff evaluates the individual performances of players from throughout the season, talking to folks around college ultimate, watching film, and look at statistics, voting upon the awards to decide those to be honored. The regular season and the college Series are both considered, with extra emphasis for performances in the competitive and high-stakes environment at Nationals.
Our All-American teams recognize the top performers across the division. While previously we have closed our Awards with our First Team and Second Team, displaying the top seven and next seven players who had the best seasons, they have been moved up in the schedule. As our voting process is ordered, the top vote-getters for All-American honors function as the ordered list in our Player of the Year voting — our highest individual award.
D-III Men’s All-American First Team
Elliott Moore (Oklahoma Christian)
Some outside observers may have wondered if Elliott Moore could step up enough to lead Oklahoma Christian back to the top of the division in the absence of his fall running mate and 2021 Player of the Year Kyle Henke. But make no mistake, no one on the Eagles held the same level of skepticism — nor did Moore himself. A supremely talented player, the likes of which had rarely been seen in D-III before the OC experiment began a few years ago, Moore was exactly who he needed to be for his team this season and he did it without trying to be someone he’s not. His all-around offensive skillset and leadership shined in Milwaukee en route to a repeat and he’ll leave Oklahoma Christian not just with two titles for their trophy case, but also with the type of program that is poised for sustained success.
For more on Elliott Moore, check out his Player of the Year writeup.
Jonathan Costello (Oklahoma Christian) Player of the Year First Runner-up
One of the more difficult tasks in ultimate is separating the impact of a cutter from the handler that’s feeding them. The best teams are a result of a symbiotic relationship between the two, and Oklahoma Christian were the beneficiaries of such a partnership. Jonathan Costello’s significance to the Eagles is difficult to understate, and he is the 1st runner-up for Player of the Year, a slam dunk All-American.
Segments of our staff felt like Costello should win the top spot and it’s easy to make the case for him. It’s not a coincidence that OC’s only loss against D-III competition this season came in a game that Costello missed.1 While the Eagles lost 15-9 to Missouri S&T on Saturday without Costello, the same matchup on Sunday ended with a 15-12 OC win.
Costello showed up in big moments all season. He led the Eagles in goals in both the semifinal and final in Milwaukee, highlighted by a 7 goal performance in the semifinal against Middlebury. Perhaps more important than the assists, Costello was incredibly consistent and reliable; he had just two turnovers all of Nationals and on countless occasions made possession-saving grabs. Sure, Costello’s size and athleticism give him the tools to make big plays, but his awareness and IQ put him in the position to utilize those assets.
A captain the last two seasons, Costello’s impact on Oklahoma Christian’s success has been immeasurable off the field. This season, he made it quite clear just how valuable he is on it, seamlessly stepping into a larger role and helping guide the Eagles to a second consecutive title.
Will Brandt (St. Olaf) Player of the Year Second Runner-up
There are certain people in the world who master a craft to the point that they make it look easy, as if anybody should be able to do it. That said, despite this simplification of a difficult art form, they never force the issue, instead integrating seamlessly into a team environment for the greater good. For example, Kevin Durant is widely regarded as one of, if not the, greatest scorers in NBA history, yet his highest single game scoring total of 55 doesn’t crack the top 100 performances of all time.
Similarly, Will Brandt makes ultimate look incredibly easy; his stats are simultaneously impressive without being overwhelming, yet it’s clear he plays the game at a higher level than most of his peers, such that he was a unanimous selection for 2nd runner-up for Player of the Year.
Brandt led the Berzerkers to the top seed at Nationals and a second place finish, helping St. Olaf to their best-ever season. Brandt finished first on his team in both goals and assists, finishing 10th and 4th in the whole tournament, respectively. After a breakout performance at fall Nationals, the sophomore cutter really stepped into his own this spring, embracing a much larger role and leading his team on both sides of the disc.
As impressive as Brandt was all season, he arguable saved his best performances for the biggest games of the season, notching 9 of his 21 assists and 5 of his 11 goals in the semis and finals at Nationals. The sophomore had the Berzerkers on the precipice of a championship this season; if he continues to improve at this rate, it’s hard to imagine Brandt and St. Olaf not having another chance at a title in the next couple of years.
Leo Sovell-Fernandez (Middlebury)
One of the most decorated careers in the history of the division concludes with winning the Donovan Award and earning a second appearance on our All-American First Team.
Leo Sovell-Fernandez helped lead Middlebury to a semifinals finish at Nationals, with their only two losses this season both coming on double game point against the two eventual finalists. Anchoring the Pranksters D-line, Sovell-Fernandez led in every possible fashion; he pulled, took the toughest matchup on the opposing offense, and marshaled the offense after a turn. When the Pranksters’ offense got broken, Sovell-Fernandez was the first person to cross over and help right the ship. Equally capable of making the highlight-reel play or being relentlessly consistent and steady, Sovell-Fernandez’s star power came from his ability to fill in the gaps of the Pranksters’ roster, elevating his teammates to be the best versions of themselves.
Just as much a leader off the field as on it, Sovell-Fernandez’s impact on the Middlebury program the last four years has been tremendous, and the Pranksters will have a tall task ahead of them to replace him next year.
Walker Frankenberg (Middlebury)
The only player who can rival Sovell-Fernandez for the most successful D-III career, both in terms of individual and team accolades, is his own teammate and also a returner from our 2021 All-American team.
What Sovell-Fernandez was to the Middlebury D-line, Walker Frankenberg was to the Pranksters offense. After an incredible statistical performance at fall Nationals in Norco as an every-other center handler, Frankenberg expanded his skillset this spring to diversify his role on Middlebury’s offense. Whether starting in his traditional handler role or initiating the offense as an isolation cutter, Frankenberg was at the center of everything for the Pranksters O-line. Frankenberg was also one of the top defenders on Middlebury, whether that came in getting the disc back for the O-line or crossing over for crucial breaks.
A senior captain for the Pranksters and their leader in touches, Frankenberg’s graduation leaves a sizable hole for Middlebury to fill. Having spent four years in the D-III spotlight in one of the division’s most storied programs, Frankenberg appears to be continuing his ultimate career with one of the most notable club programs in the men’s division, having recently made Revolver as a practice player.
Walter Ellard (Berry)
The varying winds at Nationals proved to be a difficult test for many of the division’s best throwers; however, Walter Ellard was up to the challenge, showing the handling prowess that led the Bucks all season and earning a spot on our All-American First team.
As a big handler, Ellard is a matchup nightmare for his opponents. Put a taller defender on him to match his height, and Ellard will use his quickness and agility to get open in small spaces at will. Try a smaller defender to match Ellard’s foot speed and watch Ellard shred the mark, using his length to extend and vary his release points. Playing both ways for Berry, Ellard is also an underrated defender, using the same size and agility that make him so devastating on offense to play effective matchup defense.
After Berry burst onto the scene at Nationals in the fall, expectations were high for the Bucks this spring. As Berry’s only captain, a lot of the leadership to deliver on those expectations fell to Ellard, and his performance on and off the field was instrumental in guiding the Bucks to the semifinals in Milwaukee and their best season in program history.
Caleb Enright (Berry)
In the fall, Caleb Enright and Berry mostly snuck under everyone’s radar before both burst onto the scene with a run to quarters in Norco. After winning our Breakout POTY Award and making the All-American 2nd Team in the fall, Enright met all expectations this spring, helping lead Berry to a semifinals finish en route to making our All-American 1st team.
A lot of players like to think of themselves as being a hybrid, but Enright is one of the few that actually fits the role. Primarily starting possessions in the cutter space, Enright’s quickness allowed him to initiate the Berry offense, and that same quickness combined with his exceptional throwing allowed Enright to seamlessly transition into the handler space. No player in the division was more dangerous in the red zone than Enright, and his Energizer Bunny-like stamina made him just as effective on the last point of a game as the first.
Perhaps no player improved more from 2019 to this school year than Enright, and it’s a shame that the pandemic robbed us of a front row seat to that development. Enright leaves Berry as the most decorated player in the program’s history, and should his improvement trajectory continue, we’ll see his name at the club level for years to come.
Costello missed Saturday of Regionals for a memorial service. ↩