D-I College Regionals 2024: Weekend 1 Preview (Men’s Div.)

The bids have been allocated, now it's time to see who will claim the 20 coveted spots to Nationals. First up: GL, ME, NC, SC, SE, and SW!

California’s Dexter Clyburn at 2023 NorCal Conferences. 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.

There are few more exciting portions of the ultimate calendar than spring College Regionals. For some, these events will be the culmination of a season — or even college career — while for others it’s just another step on their path toward the College Championships over Memorial Day weekend. Count on plenty of dramatic action and unexpected results along the way as every team fights to ensure they fall into the latter group.

Six regions will take to the fields this weekend across the country to decide their representatives heading to Madison, while the final three will field teams the following weekend. We’ve got you covered on the storylines to watch, the expected contender tiers, and players who could make a difference in ending or extending their team’s seasons!

Great Lakes

There is one question to ask yourself about Great Lakes this season: Is the Michigan MagnUM era over?

Michigan have owned the region since 2019, a stretch that includes a semis appearance at Nationals (2021). They go to the right tournaments (Florida Warm Up, Easterns) and have players with Club Nationals final experience (Theo Shapinsky, Aaron Bartlett). They should win the Great Lakes running away, right?

Not so fast. Because for whatever reason, MagnUM’s results in 2024 have not kept up with the team’s reputation. Losses to Emory Juice and Texas A&M Dozen at Warm Up don’t scream “Nationals-level” – nor do mere two-point wins over three different D-III schools at the Grand Rapids College Invite. Which is to say: they’re vulnerable.

Heading the list of challengers: Illinois Rise. Rise are technically the bid-earners and the tournament’s top seed, but the margin is thin enough that they’re the underdogs until they prove otherwise. Which they might! Between Kai Tang, Eli Artemakis, and Dean Gottlieb, Rise have a solid core. It was good enough to propel them to the Centex final – and might have been good enough to knock off #14 Texas TUFF if they hadn’t had to cancel the game for weather concerns. That chance against Texas transposes over to a potential tournament final against Michigan, and we’ll be able to see then what’s what.

Of course, they might not even get to play Michigan, who lost to in-state rivals Michigan State ARC in pool play at Conferences before getting revenge in the conference final after both teams had already qualified for Regionals. Will Michigan State catch MagnUM napping again? 

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Theo Shapinsky (Michigan) – A legitimate five-tool player is hard to come by, but Michigan have a great one in sixth-year star Shapinsky. Not only has he been a motor for MagnUM for years, he’s also a key figure from the 2023 Club Nationals runners-up Ann Arbor Hybrid.

Kai Tang (Illinois) – Tang has long stood out for his defense – he’s the kind of player who will earn a goal line block with stunning regularity. Now the upperclassman has helped propel Rise with the force of his offense, too.

Matthew Martrell (Michigan State) – Michigan State need to score an upset like the desert needs rain. You know who has upset experience? Martrell, who was part of the shocking Grand Rapids Beacon1 take down of the heavily-favored Cincinnati Omen at last year’s Great Lakes Regionals in club.

 

Metro East

  • Schedule & Results
  • Location: Middletown, NY
  • Number of Bids: 1
  • Excitement Level:  fire emojifire emojifire emojifire emoji
  • Expected Qualifier: 404 Page Not Found
  • In the Hunt: SUNY-Buffalo, Cornell, Princeton, Ottawa, Connecticut

What’s to be done with the Metro East? The perennially basement-dwelling region has somehow taken a step – several steps, really – even further behind the pack. The Metro East’s bid-earners, SUNY-Buffalo Green Eggs and Ham, come in at a lowly #78 in the rankings. To say the least, we are not likely to see a national champion emerge from the region in 2024.

Whether that’s a bug or a feature depends on your perspective. If you are a proud member of the old Metro East aluminati, for instance, it might feel a bit embarrassing. From a spectating standpoint, though, it’s a treat: the most wide open region in the country by far. Let’s rifle through the contenders.

First up, the aforementioned SUNY-Buffalo Green Eggs and Ham. Could they win the Metro East? Could they rise like dough with yeast? With a very strong run through the Oak Creek Invite (including a 13-1 dunk over Cornell) and good seasoning at the East Coast Invite against stronger teams, they definitely have the bona fides.

What SUNY-Buffalo don’t have, though, is the history. That belongs to Cornell Buds and UConn Huskies, who have combined for 10 of the last 12 Metro East slots at Nationals. They’re both in the mix this go-round, as well. The Buds graduated a few key players after last year’s Nationals campaign, and as a consequence their  results have been all over the map: a strong Florida Warm Up against good competition was essentially buried under a dismal Oak Creek Invite. Which version will we see? If you’re looking for hope, they do have the head-to-head over SUNY-Buffalo at Conferences, albeit by only a point. UConn have been steadier and, at 18-7, have a lot of winning reps under their belt. That’s sure to give them a surge of confidence.

No team is more battle-hardened than Princeton Clockwork, though. Remember the Enlightenment-era concept of the Clockwork Universe? Perhaps it came into the discourse a few centuries too soon. This year’s Clockwork have endured a stupefying 13 universe point games. That’s more than half of their season total, including every round they played at No Sleep Til Brooklyn. They know what it’s like to be in a tight spot, and to judge both from their record in those games (7-6) and their no-universe-points-here undefeated run through Metro NY conferences, they’ve learned how to win.

Or – and hear me out here – the Metro East winner is going to come from outside the typical competitors’ dens entirely. That’s because Ottawa Gee-Gees, after playing a grand total of four regular season games, signed up for the Series and mopped up at Conferences. They likely have the three best players in the region (Martin Gallant, Maxime Ayad, Logan Keillor) and, should their inexperience in the USAU Series not become too much of an obstacle2, the inside track.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Logan Keillor (Ottawa) – Martin Gallant of the Ottawa Outlaws is the more known name, but Keillor could have more impact. A springy bully of a defender, he is liable to challenge the Metro East tournament record for blocks. He handles very well after the turn, too.

David Hwang (Princeton) – Getting through the Metro East gauntlet is going to take some serious experience and leadership. Hwang, one of the key upperclassmen, has loads of it, not only as one of the Clockwork seniors, but also in high-level regional club play with Garden State and Helots.

Davith Chan (Cornell) – Since Eli Robinson, Ben Goldman, and Jack Waxman graduated, much of the Burden of the Buds’ season has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Davith Chan. Already a plus-plus defender, he has grown into the kind of all-around player and leader who can push Cornell back to Nationals.

 

North Central

For much of its history, the North Central region has been a fight between three teams: #11 Minnesota Grey Duck, #9 Carleton CUT, and Wisconsin Hodags. This year, while the Hodags have faded slightly from the national spotlight, the rivalry between CUT and Grey Duck has been as intense as ever.

The two teams have faced off twice so far this season, first in the Florida Warm Up quarterfinals and more recently in the North Woods Conference final. Both games went to universe point, with the teams splitting the results: Minnesota won back in February on a deep huck to star player Paul Krenik3 and Carleton won more recently on an upline score by their very own star, Declan Miller. 

Both teams have a deep reserve of high-caliber playmakers who are eager to claim the rubber match and the corresponding regional crown. For Carleton, Miller, Cullen Baker, and Daniel Chen lead one of the most poised and athletic O lines in the country that can score in all sorts of  different ways. On defense, Leo Xiao frequently pins opposing teams deep in their territory with booming pulls, challenging offensive lines to string together 80+ yard holds.

Minnesota is led by the aforementioned Krenik, a top contender for end of season awards who is equally threatening downfield and with the disc. He is flanked by teammates Ian McCosky and Sebastian Brauer and a line full of contributors who run a very effective ho-stack system. The Grey Duck D-line, led by Levi Dohman and Anthony Jirele, pack a punch of their own and have proven throughout the season to be able to go on clutch break runs without crossing over offensive stars. 

CUT have flashed a slightly higher ceiling this year, cracking the top five in our power rankings at times and notching marquee wins over both #1 Georgia Jojah and #2 Massachusetts Zoodisc, but the ever-fraught weather of North Central Regionals (Des Moines’ forecast for the weekend promises an exciting combination of thunderstorms and up to 19 mph winds) and the teams’ familiarity with each other suggest it’s a true toss-up. Awaiting the winner of the expected final? Joy, relief, pride, and a fierce celebration. For the loser? A scary second game-to-go, likely against Wisconsin, that has brought us some crazy upsets in the not too distant past.4.

For all you history junkies out there, last year’s Regionals must’ve been quite the devastating affair. After miraculously keeping up their epic nationals qualifying streak in 2022 with a shocking upset over CUT, Wisconsin’s 22-year streak came to a close when they lost to Grey Duck 15-11 in the second game to go. While there is little about the season to suggest that the Wisconsin Hodags have what it takes to best Minnesota this time around – their best win came when they beat Santa Cruz? Or maybe Ohio State? Or Illinois? – there is clear historical precedent that crazy things happen on Sundays in April in the North Central5

Can 2024 mark the beginning of a new streak for Wisconsin? Or can they at least put a little scare into a Carleton or Grey Duck team reeling from a tight regional final loss? I wouldn’t bet on it, but if not then the only game with national implications is the regional final, and that’s just a little boring.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Paul Krenik (Minnesota) – Undoubtedly one of the best players in the region, and country, Krenik will be key to the success Grey Duck finds this weekend. Unfortunately for opposing defenses, he poses a threat in all parts of the field and is adept at attacking defenders’ weaknesses with shifty jump cuts, quick-release OIIO backhands, and one of the largest catch radiuses in the division. 

Daniel Chen (Carleton) – Thanks in part to his dad’s impressive camera work and superb turnaround time, Daniel Chen’s athletic feats have helped him vault into postseason awards contention. Okay, fine, it’s really his cut timing, plus throwing, and comfort in multiple parts of the field that keep opposing defenses from honing in too hard on Declan Miller, but the breathtaking plays don’t hurt either.

Nico Ranabhat (Wisconsin) – If Wisconsin is able to qualify for nationals, it will likely take a big effort from Ranabhat, the team’s southpaw star. Ranabhat was the team’s 2023 Callahan nominee and, after playing on mixed club finalist Madison NOISE in 2022, has plenty of big game experience to call upon to try and lead his team to a crucial upset late in the bracket.

South Central

  • Schedule & Results
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Number of Bids: 3
  • Excitement Level: fire emojifire emojifire emoji
  • Expected Qualifiers: Colorado, Texas, WashU
  • In the Hunt: Texas A&M, Colorado State, Missouri

One of the most talented and balanced teams in the country, #7 Colorado Mamabird should waltz to a regional title. With Seth Wells, Ryan Shigley, and Nate Buchholz holding down the fort on offense, talents like Calvin Stoughton, Tucker Kalmus, and Zeke Thoreson have been free to hunt for blocks on D-lines that will punish turnovers with quick counterattacks. Stoughton in particular is a great weapon to have for the Mamabird defense. With his towering pulls, laser-sharp quickness, and ability to facilitate both small ball and big space offense after a turnover, it almost doesn’t matter which other six defenders take the field with him. 

With the aforementioned Wells, Shigley, and Buchholz operating in the backfield, Levi Tapper and Tobias Brooks have owned the midfield space. Each adept at slashing to get open and finding places to launch devastating away shots, the Mamabird offense has a trove of set plays that could just involve the two of them creating and then attacking space downfield. There simply isn’t a team in the region that can compete with the versatility and skill Colorado bring to the table, and Mamabird should have no trouble earning another trip to Nationals.

That’s what we expect at the top. There could be a spot of drama about the other two bids.

#22 Washington University Contra went out and earned their bid this season. They beat two 2023 Nationals qualifiers in the course of a 22-4 regular season and played top teams like #3 Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur and #8 Vermont Chill quite close at Florida Warm Up. Meanwhile, #14 Texas TUFF have looked shaky enough that WashU could unseat them as the second-best team in the region. TUFF needed double game point wins over Texas A&M Dozen, BYU CHI, and D-III #4 Middlebury Pranksters to stay undefeated at Centex6 and went just 3-4 at Smoky Mountain Invite. John Clyde, Xavier Fuzat, Cade White, and company might have another level they can push to, and they’ll need it to ensure their standing in the region. 

Of course, WashU have also had some stumbles alongside their significant triumphs. Most recently Contra found themselves down late against Missouri in the Ozarks Conferences final. They managed to turn a halftime deficit into a 13-11 win and enter Regionals without a loss in nearly two months, but they showed that they’re vulnerable to a hot team playing well at the right time. It would not be surprising to see Joel Brown, Noah Stovitz, Cam Freeman, and Seth Fisher-Olvera lead Contra to an upset over Texas. It also would not be a shock to see a team like Mark Henke’s Texas A&M get hot at the right time and make the game-to-go too close for comfort.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Ryan Shigley (Colorado) – A captain in just his second year on the team, Shigley has both the proverbial and the literal keys to the Mamabird offense. A gifted thrower with a knack for hitting the right space at the right time, Shigley is a steady pace setter on an offense that can fly off the rails with shoot-first athletes like Levi Tapper and Tobias Brooks making plays downfield.

Xavier Fuzat (Texas) – A tireless cutter, Fuzat is often TUFF’s best initiating option. He also might be their best thrower and defender (though John Clyde is pretty good at both as well). Since emerging on the Breakout Player of the Year podium in 2021, Fuzat has continued to improve and is becoming a well-rounded superstar at the perfect time for a Texas team in need of a boost.

Noah Stovitz (WashU) – Plenty of Contra’s stars have flown under the radar for the last few seasons, but the one who won’t escape the Nationals spotlight is Stovitz. A dominating receiver and plus thrower, Stovitz has the tools to carry Contra back to Nationals and to do some damage once they’re there.

Mark Henke (Texas A&M) – Henke showed at Centex that he can be a go-to player even against good teams’ best defenders. An all-around playmaker, Henke will take on a heavy throwing load for Dozen and will probably tack on some key blocks as Texas A&M look to upset their way back to Nationals.

 

Southeast

  • Schedule & Results
  • Location: Decatur, AL
  • Number of Bids: 2
  • Excitement Level: fire emojifire emojifire emoji
  • Expected Qualifiers: Georgia, Alabama-Huntsville
  • In the Hunt: Georgia Tech, Florida, Tulane

Everything has been coming up roses in 2024 for #1 Georgia Jojah – which you could probably deduce just by looking at that power rankings number next to their name. Their tally of tournament wins is equal to their tally of losses so far this season (2), they have a pair of star fifth-years in Adam Miller and Aidan Downey both having career-best years, all of the depth pieces behind them appear to be blooming at once (Jack Krugler, Kofi Reeves-Miller, Zach Brennan, Jack Stephenson, Scotty Whitley, Jake Powell…), and they are in the midst of one of the strongest highlight video campaigns the division has ever seen. The play calls are great. The improvisation is jazz club-worthy. The defense doesn’t quit. Jojah have had the Southeast in a stranglehold going back to 2018, and they are locks to make Nationals. Write that down in ink.

But can they win the region?

That all depends on what we see out of America’s Team, more formally known as #12 Alabama-Huntsville Nightmares. And they might be every top team’s actual nightmare. They have burst onto the elite D-I scene like a badly aimed bottle rocket at a barbecue, scattering the guests in fright with the haste and fury of their arrival. Between Bradley Fleming, Jonathan Sillivant, Michael Poe, Isaiah Mason, Cal Diercks, and Chris Youngblood they already had a homegrown core ready to compete with some of the region’s best. And then they brought in an A-lister of a COVID 6th-year pickup in Atlanta Chain Lightning star Kenni Taylor to push them over the top. The results have been brilliant. They have shown their ceiling scrapes the top of the division in tight games with #2 UMass Zoodisc and #4 UNC Darkside – not to mention a win over #6 Cal Poly SLO SLOCORE. The Nightmares should feel very good about their chances to make Nationals, and they are entirely capable of winning the Southeast outright.

None of the other hopefuls are going to hand it to them, though. Georgia Tech Tribe have a sneaky-strong résumé and enough talent (Chris Zuo, Neil Barry, Adam Grossberg) to swipe the second bid if UAH play a clunker. Florida didn’t look very sharp when they played the Nightmares at Warm Up – in fact, they were waxed – but they showed enough grit and physicality in other games that weekend to prove they can turn it on when it counts. And Tulane Tucks, operating largely in the background this season, are not too far off the pace.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Adam Miller (Georgia) – Take your pick from among several Georgia stars who will have an influence at Regionals – mine is Miller, the heart and soul of Jojah. Indefatigable, assertive, and swaggy as all get out (in addition to having one of the best all-around skillsets in the country), look for Miller to set the tone for his squad.

Kenni Taylor (UAH) – UAH would still be a good team this season without Taylor, but they wouldn’t be anywhere near the lofty heights they have reached. Between his handling, his defense, and his unparalleled will to win, the sixth-year pickup has elevated the Nightmares to an extraordinary level.

Adam Grossberg (Georgia Tech) – If you’re drawing up a list of the quickest players in college, Grossberg has to be near the top. The fleet-footed second-year is an unanswerable question against matchup defenses. That kind of strength will give Tribe major leverage in the quest for an upset this weekend.

Ki Greene (Emory) – Emory Juice don’t have an eye-popping star like 2023 Callahan winner Justin Burnett this year, but they do have one of the smoothest, sharpest, and all-around soundest players in the region in Greene. They’re in a good position to spoil someone’s weekend, and if they do you can bet Greene will have played a huge part in it.

Charlie Smith (Tulane) – Don’t count out Tucks as long as Smith is with the team. The canny thrower has been carving up defenses since his splashy turn in the spotlight at 2021 Nationals. He’s so reliable that it’s not unthinkable for him to lead Tulane all the way to Madison.

 

Southwest

  • Schedule & Results
  • Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Number of Bids: 2
  • Excitement Level: fire emojifire emojifire emojifire emoji
  • Expected Qualifiers: Cal Poly, Cal
  • In the Hunt: UCLA, UCSD, UCSC

As has been the story for the last half decade, #6 Cal Poly SLO SLOCORE enter the postseason as prohibitive favorites to advance out of a multi-bid Southwest. With tournament wins at Santa Barbara Invite and Presidents’ Day Invite, as well as strong finishes at Northwest Challenge and Easterns, SLO have given no reason to doubt their ability to win out against their regional peers. Though some health question marks remain after they saw six players sidelined at Easterns, including Seamus Robinson and Alex Nelson, it would take a real collapse to land SLOCORE anywhere but the top rung this weekend.

One step below sit #13 California Ursa Major. Led by Dexter Clyburn and an impressive group of secondary stars, Ursa Major have deftly filled the gap left in their roster by a season-ending injury to Gavin May. Though they have not played SLO this season, Cal have dispatched every intraregional opponent they’ve seen this year, including, importantly, two universe point wins over #19 UCLA Smaug. They should be considered favorites, if only marginally so, to claim the second bid.

After last year’s eleventh-hour bid shakeup left UCLA as the odd team out of the strongest Southwest men’s field in recent memory, this season has been a bit of a disappointing one for Smaug. Finishing the regular season ranked 23rd and taking an ugly 11-10 loss to UC San Diego Air Squids in the second place game at conferences belie the top-end talent of Riley Kirkman-Davis, Matthew Barcellos, and Marshall Wildmann. Make no mistake, this is a team that could claim a Nationals bid. By that same token, they could find themselves eliminated early if someone can replicate UCSD’s Conferences upset.

Finally, last season’s Nationals-qualifying UC Santa Cruz Slugs have taken a step back after graduating several top players and losing a couple more to injury, but they have been on the upswing late in the regular season. Returning to Nationals is an extremely long shot at this point. As agents of chaos who could ruin someone else’s weekend, though? Keep an eye on slug trail.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Dexter Clyburn (California) – Asked (almost inconceivably) to increase his workload following May’s injury, Clyburn has looked the part of an All-American… again. Don’t be surprised if Cal’s postseason is marked by a healthy dose of the Dex show.

Anton Orme (Cal Poly SLO) – On a star-laden team Orme has stood out for his two-way chops and ever-deepening throwing bag. ‘CORE are at their best when they get the ball downfield to Orme and let his pace and field vision move the offense.

Riley Kirkman-Davis (UCLA) – RKD stock is evergreen. Sure, the team success hasn’t quite been there this year, but Kirkman-Davis continues to be one of the steadiest and most versatile handlers in the division.

Toby Warren (UC Santa Cruz) – After a strong freshman campaign on a very talented team, graduations and injuries thrust Warren into a centerpiece role in his second season. His big throws and athleticism are critical to keeping Santa Cruz within sniffing distance of the top of the region.

Tynan Sander (UC San Diego) – Sander has been an excellent handler for the Air Squids for several years now. He’s fast, crafty, and has a big arm, all of which he puts to good use, as UCSD have been able to put up strong results against top regional competitors both this season and last.


  1. A previous version of this article mistakenly listed Elliot Davis and Ann Arbor Diesel as the player and team who took part in the upset of Omen. We regret the error. 

  2. They played in the Canadian University Championships last fall 

  3. This game is in the Ultiworld video library, and is a fantastic watch if you’re looking for something to get you excited for Regionals 

  4. Don’t think we’ve already forgotten about 2022, Carleton! 

  5. Don’t believe me? Do a deep dive on my own playing history and how Grinnell qualified for nationals in 2022 in D-III 

  6. where the weather bailed them out of having to play a tournament final against a hot Illinois Rise side 

  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

  2. 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).

  3. Emmet Holton
    Emmet Holton

    Emmet grew up playing ultimate in the Bay Area and played 5 years on Cal Poly SLOCORE from 2019 to 2023. He currently lives in Berkeley, CA and works as an architectural designer in San Francisco.

  4. Jacob Cowan
    Jacob Cowan

    Jacob Cowan began playing ultimate in New York City in high school. After a couple of club seasons with Brooklyn Blueprint and following a college career playing with and captaining the Grinnell Grinnellephants, he is now searching for the best cheap meal in Madrid.

TAGGED: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

EVENTS:

TEAMS: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More from Ultiworld
Comments on "D-I College Regionals 2024: Weekend 1 Preview (Men’s Div.)"

Find us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Find us on Facebook

Subscriber Exclusives

  • Inside the Circle LIVE: Krokhol Open Rapid Reax
    Subscriber podcast
  • BFG vs. Red Flag (Mixed Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • Revolver vs. Rhino Slam! (Men’s Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • Molly Brown vs. Fury (Women’s Final)
    Video for standard subscribers