Queen City Tune Up 2024: Centering Pass Day Two (Men’s Div.)

UNC wins, but QCTU wasn’t a walk in the park for Darkside.

UNC Darkside’s Noah Bush attempts a layout block against Penn State’s Ben Tokarz in the men’s division final of QCTU 2024. Photo: Brian Whittier

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Welcome to Centering Pass, Ultiworld’s articles covering tournament news and event stories you need to know.

When the dust settled1, #1 UNC Darkside came away victorious after an exciting weekend of competition in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Their tournament win did not show the kind of all around dominance fans have come to expect from the three time defending champions. At the same time, contenders from regions up and down the east coast have fully announced themselves as teams who can play at a Nationals level.

Competition Schedule and Results

UNC Undefeated but Not Invincible

UNC worked their way to a 15-9 victory in the tournament final to cap off an undefeated weekend. It may be difficult to tell just from reviewing the results, but they were genuinely challenged along the way. #25 Penn State Spank came out energized and scored a break on the first point of the game on a visionary flick blade from Zander Lutz, who commanded the Spank offense while splitting time between offensive and defensive points. UNC had some uncharacteristic mistakes, especially in the backfield where they are usually dominant, and were playing with flexible lines in order to help players all over the roster sharpen and develop different skills. Though Penn State was up a break late in the first half, UNC closed the game on a 7-2 run with a line of rookies completing the last break score of the weekend.

The first half of the final wasn’t UNC’s only test of the tournament. Darkside stormed out to a 5-0 lead against #18 Alabama-Huntsville in the semifinal, and closed the game with a break to win 15-12. But as you might have guessed by the differential in those beginning and ending scores, UAH had some fight in them. A 6-3 run in the middle of the game showed just how damaging UAH can be when hucks are flying and there is enough wind to back their zone defense. Michael Poe, Jonathan Sillivant, and Isaiah Mason owned the skies and forced UNC into some uncomfortable situations.

That they managed to stare such discomfort in the face and still pull out a win is a good indicator of the talent and leadership on this UNC team. It will take more than a few jump balls and some willpower to beat them, and there’s more to come for UNC. Ben Dameron was decleated this weekend. Josh Singleton and Rutledge Smith seemed to switch their typical downfield and backfield roles on offense. Eli Fried was playing with a cast on one hand. It’s nowhere near Nationals time yet and UNC is nowhere near their final form. The closer-than-expected games say more about the strength of the field of challengers than they do about UNC’s ability to defend their title.

Sparks from Spank

  1. maybe when the rain cleared would be more accurate given the actual weather conditions 

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  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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