College Update: First Bids to Nationals Decided

The first bids to Nationals were handed out at D-III confregionals around the country, while D-I conferences saw some rumblings but few upsets

UPenn vs. West Chester at the 2024 Pennsylvania D-I Women’s Conference Championships. Photo: Diana Hung –

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Throughout the spring season, we’ll publishing a bite-sized weekly recap of the action across the college division. This will serve as a supplement to our standard tournament reporting and offer a high-level look at the latest happenings and the biggest stories of the week.

Want your tournament listed? Submit a recap of what happened right here.

The first weekend of the college season played out last weekend with Sectionals Conferences1 kicking off across the country. 

For major Nationals-bound programs it’s a time to avoid turbulence (which some did more successfully than others), but for many teams this weekend was the main event. Games-to-go to Regionals in the 5th place bracket, budding programs taking their first baby steps towards competitiveness, an ambitious college captain scrapping 12 players together, dragging a program to their first ever Series appearance. 

Dive into scorereporter today and you can sense the scale of the largely anonymous human enterprise that goes into college frisbee. Teams you’ve never heard of living and dying over backdoor semis against a school you’ve only heard of because you saw an ad for it on a bus stop bench. Many college frisbee careers around the country ended over the weekend. We won’t ever know their names. Let’s pour one out regardless.

For all of the Regionals qualifiers, check out our thread of Conferences results. For a little flavor on some of the notable happens over the weekend, see below.

D-I Women’s Division

Penn Beat Pitt to Win Pennsylvania Conference

It wasn’t that long ago that #20 Pittsburgh Danger were in the semifinals at Nationals, top dogs of the Ohio Valley and virtually unchallenged in their home state. No longer. Danger’s five year streak as conference champions ended with a 12-9 defeat to #18 Pennsylvania Venus, cementing Penn as favorites to take the Ohio Valley’s lone bid to Nationals this season. Getting to Nationals may be the main priority for the ascendant Venus squad, but you can bet that finally taking down Pitt at Conferences is going to last long in the memory for the veterans on the team. 

Vermont Shred Brown to Retain #1 Status

One of the few clashes between top 25 teams took place at Greater New England Conferences, where #1 Vermont resoundingly defeated #24 Brown 12-6. New England Regionals could be tricky tournament with only two bids and several high level teams, but Vermont gave no indication at Conferences that they should be anything less than clear favorites.

Evil Empire Undercard Offers Little Drama

With the West Coast regions gobbling up 10 bids between them, Northwest and Southwest Regionals are likely to have some surprises in store. But there weren’t major waves made at conferences, as most of the top teams more or less held their positions. Not a surprise by seeding, but certainly a surprise in context, #11 Brigham Young qualified for their first-ever Regionals thanks to the one-day round robin format of Big Sky Conferences. Over at Cascadia Conferences, #21 Victoria leapfrogging from the 5th seed up to 3rd after an upset of #10 Washington Element will impact seeding at Regionals, but teams appear to have been largely keeping their powder dry for the big showdown in two weeks. 

Duke Swerve to Final, Crash into North Carolina

This recap was submitted by two anonymous AC fans

Coming in seeded fourth, Duke Swerve went undefeated on Day 1, beating former rival and no.2 seed NC State by a decent spread, 9-6. Sunday morning they played South Carolina, who were coming off their own impressive Saturday where they put up the most points against UNC and placed second in their pool. But Duke played fierce and utilized a strategic zone defense to get the best of Scorch, 11-8. Swerve went on to play UNC in the final and, despite putting out strictly rookie D-lines, held Pleiades to the fewest points of any team and put up a solid six points.

While this would’ve guaranteed Swerve second at a regular season tournament, it being Conferences they dropped to the second place game where they played South Carolina in a rematch for seeding. Scorch, expecting to play Duke again that same day for what they knew would be a more impactful rematch, adjusted accordingly, regulating playing time in their 2nd-place semi against Appalachian State, who Scorch dispatched with an 11-4 win. That, coupled with tactical adjustments, allowed Scorch to jump to an early 4-1 lead against Duke that they never relinquished. With the wind a huge factor, as well as residual exhaustion from Duke’s primary lineup, Swerve were unable to finish their astounding run and finished third, losing 9-6 to Scorch.

Sydney Neal from Duke Swerve had an incredible weekend. As their primary handler, her deep shots and inside throws to quick downfield cutter Lindsey Hua made Duke’s offense a force to reckon with. Neal also prevented other teams from completing much in the deep space and made some huge plays— including a nasty layout score against Pleiades. Hua, a Donovan award finalist during her time with Haverford/Bryn Mawr, was a scrappy player who created chaos in the under space on defense, and the two of them played almost every point on Sunday. Other notable players for Swerve were handler Ashley Talwar and cutter Piper Epstein, a huge end zone finisher. Duke is coming off of a tournament win at Rodeo and, with a roster of 20 members who will all return next year, seems like they might be a team to watch next year.

D-I Men’s Division

Southwest Intrigue

Harkening back to a time when we still called it Sectionals, the Southwest Region has a lot of pretty good teams and not a lot of bids to Nationals. Behind bid earners SLO and Cal, a handful of teams from SoCal Conferences are looking to hit the postseason strong and take one of those precious bids. #18 UCLA reached the championship game before falling to SLO in the final, but then continued their descent by dropping the 2/3 game to UC-San Diego, who UCLA had beaten earlier in the day. This loss has seeding implications that will shake up the snowglobe (sandglobe? May be more appropriate for the Southwest) at Regionals. 

WashU Survive Scare

Let’s check in on how surprise bid earner #21 WashU Contra are doing as they try to hold onto the South Central’s third bid… a little wobbly! Trailing 7-4 at half to Missouri in the final of Ozarks Conferences, Contra did just enough in the second half to pull out a 13-11 win. It’s certainly better than losing, but it opens the door to Missouri, UT Dallas, Colorado State, and other teams hoping to swoop in and pick off a vulnerable bid. 

The New School North Central Rivalry

With Wisconsin falling off a cliff in recent years, Minnesota have taken their place as Carleton’s main in-region rival. The two teams played out an entertaining 15-14 game at Warm Up back in February that broke Minnesota’s way, and CUT got revenge this time around with their own 15-14 win that marks them as the top team at North Central Regionals.

D-III Women’s Division

Atlantic Coast Upset

In a truly spectacular example of D-III majesty, #23 Richmond Redhots upset #19 Davidson People’s DUFF 6-5 in a game with no upwind breaks to take the lone bid to Nationals from the Atlantic Coast. Davidson, who beat Richmond on Saturday, chose defense after winning the flip and were thusly punished by the frisbee gods. Richmond almost didn’t even make it to that game, trailing Catholic University 6-4 in a game to seven before scoring three in a row to make the final.

Macalester Top Wacky North Central

Despite being the third seed at the tournament, #8 Macalester Pursesnatchers snatched the first of the North Central’s four bids with a 7-6 win in the final over #1 in the nation St. Olaf Vortex. That loss sent St. Olaf reeling, as they suffered a pummeling shortly after at the hands of #4 Carleton Eclipse to fall to 3rd place in the region. #25 Grinnell Grinneleanor Roosevelts backed up a pool play win decided by the flip with an upset in the game-to-go over #11 Michigan Tech by a healthy 14-11 margin, returning to Nationals for the first time since 2015.

Whitman’s Not-So-Sweet Northwest

Considered by many to be a strong title contender, the #2 Whitman Sweets instead suffered back-to-back losses in the Northwest final and game-to-go to miss out on Nationals altogether. The Sweets won against all competition in pool play on Saturday, including a one-point win over Portland, and had a sizable lead on UPRoar in the first-place game. But 2023 All American 1st Team and potential POTY Gemma Munck went down with an injury, and Portland rattled off a 6-2 run to win the game with a break on universe. #18 Lewis & Clark firmly closed the door, flipping a 14-6 pool play loss into a 12-6 game-to-go win to secure the Northwest’s second bid to Nationals.

D-III Men’s Division

Favorites Advance to Nationals in the Northwest

#4 Whitman and #8 Lewis & Clark both took care of business in the Northwest, with Whitman comfortably taking the 1st place game by a score of 15-10. That game was the only time all tournament either team gave up double digit goals. Perhaps the more interesting story is Reed’s campaign through the bracket to make the game-to-go despite being seeded fifth. Hoot ran out of gas by the time they reached Lewis & Clark in the game-to-go, but notched two big wins over Puget Sound that are going to be a big boost for the program moving forward.

Ave Maria Comes Up Short Again as Berry Escapes the Southeast

Top seeded #10 Ave Maria were left crooning a somber lament after losing to #11 Berry twice, including 13-12 in the game to go to Nationals. Ave Maria were up 8-4 at half in the final, a similar position to last season, but surrendered a massive comeback to Berry, who won on universe point with a clutch layout score from Collin Hill. This makes two years in a row Ave Maria have blown leads to miss out on Nationals. Sports: they’re often cruel!

Wesleyan a Crucial Factor in Metro East

This recap was submitted by Judah Hoffenberg, captain of Wesleyan Nietzsch Factor

Picture this: an 11 team tournament eight bids to Regionals, and wind all day on Saturday.2 Army West Point arrived with the no.1 seed in a five-team pool A, with Wesleyan carrying the no.2 seed in Pool B, Connecticut College the no.3 seed back in pool A, and Skidmore getting the no.4 at the top of pool C.

Ninth-seeded Hartford scored the first upset of the day, beating a Connecticut College team that was previously in the top-20 in D-III men’s rankings, as well as New Haven and RPI to claim second in the pool. Fifth-ranked Vassar also broke seed, nicely beating Skidmore 9-6.

The upsets continued into Sunday. Tenth-seed Marist’s bus broke down, but they were able to make it in time to play in the tournament, breaking seed and forcing Connecticut College into a universe point situation on Sunday before finishing sixth.

Wesleyan Nietzsch Factor stand out as the obvious big winner. Having finished first in Week 2 of High Tide at Myrtle Beach in March and second at Northeast Classic, they came into the tournament with high expectations. Wesleyan went 5-0 on the weekend, carrying a +33 score differential, demolishing Hartford 15-6 in the semifinals before handily beating #15 nationally ranked Army West Point 15-12 to win the Conference after falling to third in 2023. Led by the dynamic duo of Jack Noble and Daniel Glickman, there were few moments in which they did not seem to be in the driver’s seat. Look to see more from Prosser Freidman and Connecticut College at regionals as well.

Looking Ahead

More than a dozen conference tournaments are still on the docket as regions around the country firm up their team lists. Stay tuned next week for more head-turning Series results.

  1. We have fallen so far from grace. 

  2. Great job by TD Noah Bane and Regional Coordinator Sam Harris for making this tournament happen with inclement weather and multiple teams dropping out. 

  1. Patrick Stegemoeller

    Patrick Stegemoeller is a Senior Staff Writer for Ultiworld, co-host of the Sin The Fields podcast, and also a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn.

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