Centex 2024: Tournament Recap (Men’s Div.)

Co-champs Texas TUFF and Illinois Rise leave Centex undefeated, but not dominant

Illinois Rise goes horizontal to save possession at the ultimate frisbee tournament, the 2024 Stanford Invite. Photo: Rodney Chen - UltiPhotos.com
Illinois Rise goes horizontal to save possession at the 2024 Stanford Invite. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college ultimate season are presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

Men’s Tier 1 Centex was full of struggles for tournament personnel and teams alike. While you can plan a picnic, you can’t predict the weather, and the tournament’s top seeds may have done more harm to their season than good with their most recent trip down to Round Rock. Here are the main storylines from a stormy weekend deep in the heart of Texas.

A Tale of Two Finalists

Due to more inclement weather, the final round of Centex was canceled. This left us with two co-champions: #15 Texas TUFF and Illinois Rise. These two teams can hang their heads high with this tournament co-win, but for very different reasons.

Texas TUFFs It Out, But At What Cost?

Texas TUFF had a weekend that was true to their namesake, not that they were Texas Ultimate Frisbee Fans, but they had a tough time. The weekend started bright for Texas with a great comeback win (down 12-9) over #22 BYU CHI for the second year in a row. In that game, Texas struggled to execute resets and basic throws on offense. However, the jolt provided by Gavin Babbitt’s game-winning poach block put Texas back in line for the rest of the weekend.

 

If we just look at their record, TUFF went undefeated. Their only two close games against D-I teams were to BYU and Texas A&M. And while the latter was a little unexpected, Dozen played a great (albeit scrappy) game.

There are some brightsides for TUFF. One of the major storylines for this weekend was whether TUFF would do more harm than good by playing at their home tournament. While it didn’t help them, the weekend ended in a net neutral. They have yet to do irreparable harm to the potential for a second bid in the South Central, and everyone stayed healthy. Texas’ next tournament will be Sectionals, where they should be able to recover from the A&M fiasco and roll through to Regionals.

But as a way-too-early prediction for College Nationals? First, the South Central cannot lose their second bid. Without that, Texas’ path to Nationals would require a win over #6 Colorado Mamabird, after competing in the game-to-game-to-go against a very good #24 Washington University Contra or another breakout team. If TUFF qualify, Texas has the potential to make a run up to the quarterfinals, but needs to improve their offensive consistency. When TUFF is clicking on O, they’re clicking. But when they’re not, they are really not. Centex should be a kick in the teeth for TUFF entering the postseason.

Illinois Rises to the Occasion

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  1. Chris Cassella
    Chris Cassella

    Chris Cassella is from Orange, Connecticut, and started playing pick-up at the age of 11. He is a graduate of the University of Richmond, where he played four years with the Richmond Spidermonkeys. While at Richmond, Chris won a national championship (2017), two High Tide titles (2019, 2020), and the “worst decisions award” four years in a row. He is a current graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will play his fifth year with TUFF. You can follow him on Twitter (@nerdyboypolis) to see his daily takes about zone defense, political science, and I-35 traffic jams.

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