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

Half the teams at the 2024 D-III College Championships will be decided this weekend!

Oklahoma Christian celebrates at the 2024 men's college ultimate frisbee tournament, the Santa Barbara Invite. Photo: William "Brody" Brotman - UltiPhotos.com
Oklahoma Christian celebrates at the 2024 Santa Barbara Invite. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – 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 D-III College Championships in three weeks. Count on plenty of dramatic action and unexpected results along the way as every team fights to ensure they fall into the latter group.

Five regions will take to the fields this weekend across the country to decide their representatives heading to Milwaukee. We’ve got you covered on the storylines to watch.

Great Lakes

Score Reporter
Location: Zeeland, Michigan
Favorites: #17 Davenport
Contenders: Grace, Butler
Nationals Bids: 1
Excitement Level: 🔥

Since 2021, a new champion has emerged from the Great Lakes region each year, with this year looking no different. However, while in previous years it’s been hard to predict the region’s winner, 2024 seems to be fairly clear. #17 Davenport, the second school to give ultimate scholarships, played a strong first-ever season in a down year for the rest of the region. The Panthers were 11-6 in their rookie year, with their most notable result being a 10-7 win over Colorado Mines, a team ranked tenth at the time. The roster is packed with players with all different backgrounds, ranging from grad student pickups like the former Whitman Sweets Tyler Shanahan, international stars like Darren Dyer from Jamaica, and young experienced recruits coming from high schools like freshman Jacob Felton.

It should be a breeze for the Panthers, as their closest foe appears to be Grace, a team they beat 15-8 and 13-4 already this season. But, this is College Regionals, and teams can never be counted out. With a region known for its weird weather, we’ve seen weirder results happen. By the end of Sunday, expect this to be Davenport’s first of many future regional titles, as the Great Lakes has not picked up a strength bid in years and the Panthers will only get better as they gain traction with high school recruits.

The team with the greatest odds of upsetting Davenport appears to be Grace Lancer. 2024 seems to be a comeback season for the Lancers, where they went 10-3 on the season and played a hard-fought 12-10 loss to D-I Great Lakes favorite Michigan. The Lancers will need to utilize the star brothers Joel Close and Nathan Close if they want any chance at defeating Davenport this season. Joel is the do-it-all handler senior for Grace, and is rostered for the UFA Alleycats. His younger brother Nathan made the practice squad for Indy and is a threat on both sides of the disc. If you’re wondering why the name Close sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The last time Grace made Nationals in 2022, Joel and his brother Ben combined for a total of forty assists and upset the five-seed Navy to reach quarterfinals. Grace will hope to channel the Close brothers’ talent into another Nationals appearance.

Other teams looking to make a name for themselves will be Butler Big Dog and Wheaton Mastodon. Butler qualified for their first ever Nationals in 2023, but have taken a large step back this year, only going 5-9. Wheaton heads into Regionals with momentum after their conference championship at Illinois Conferences. With high winds and rain in the forecast, this will be a true Great Lakes ball this weekend.

Metro East

Score Reporter
Location: Batavia, New York
Favorites: #23 Rochester
Contenders: The College of New Jersey, Army, Connecticut College, Wesleyan, SUNY-Cortland
Nationals Bids: 1
Excitement Level: 🔥🔥🔥

As usual, the winner of the Metro East is anyone’s best guess. Every team has won and lost to another and multiple different squads have come and gone from our rankings, making the Metro East wide open again.

Our favorite are the Rochester Piggies, who made a surprise bracket appearance at Nationals last year. Although they lost star Ben Kelley and ten other seniors, the Piggies reloaded as Mitch Whisner and Cameron Lowe stepped up into bigger roles this season. Results have been mixed, with a 12-5 loss to Connecticut College to start the season, but they also played a close 12-11 loss to #3 Williams and took down Western NY Conferences, demonstrating a higher ceiling. The Piggies will need to rely on their 2023 experience to get them back to Milwaukee this May.

The College of New Jersey has also popped in and out of our rankings this season with flip-flopping results. A 11-9 win over #22 Bowdoin is huge, but losing to regional rivals SUNY-Cortland and Weslyan looks worse on paper. Both of these losses were low scoring games indicating Revolution may play better in good conditions. Star Evan Sapirman will hope to lead TCNJ to their first-ever Nationals.

Another team with a solid chance is the number one seed at the tournament, Wesleyan Nietzsch Factor. Former PoNY Coach Bryan Jones joined the coaching staff and the program appears to already have significant improvements. Again, results are back and forth for this younger squad, beating TCNJ, splitting games with SUNY-Cortland, and losing to Connecticut College. A strong show at Conferences to claim the title may hint Nietzsch Factor are peaking at the right time. Expect Bryan Jones to maximize the talents of Daniel “Tux” Glickman and Jack Noble, and hope Wesleyan makes it back to the big show after their appearance in 2021.

SUNY-Cortland, Army, Connecticut College, and Ithaca all have outside chances for a sneaky win in Batavia, New York. This Team Rocket squad looks like Cortland’s best-ever iteration of the team, defeating multiple top foes in the region. Fifth year Mark Weidman may have the best throws in the region, which Cortland will desperately need when it comes crunch time. Army was technically the bid earner for the region, but their lack of challenge in the regular season and Conferences loss leaves doubt. However, with the fall off of Navy and Air Force, Army may be the next military school to emerge in the D-III scene. One thing you can guarantee is that they will be the most well conditioned team in the region. Connecticut College Deimos’ Prosser Friedman could be the best player in the region, trying to lead a very small roster to victory. Deimos will hope for that Milwaukee Magic, after their last Nationals appearance was in Wisconsin two years ago. Lastly, Ithaca played close to every team this year and collected a win over Wesleyan – if they can get on the right side of these close games, they very well could take down the region. They will need Jack Butler’s speed in the cutting space if they want to come out on top.

North Central

Score Reporter
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Favorites: #1 St. Olaf, #8 Carleton CHOP
Contenders: #16 Michigan Tech, #18 Macalester, Grinnell
Nationals Bids: 2
Excitement Level: 🔥🔥🔥

After a couple years of South Central dominance and many years of New England in the spotlight, it feels like a lot of attention has moved to the North Central in 2024. Five teams in the region have been ranked by Ultiworld at some point in the season, and four still remain. Not to mention, of course, the region holds the Nationals title favorites at this point in the season, along with a possible semifinalist. With two bids again this year and 15+ mph winds along with rain in the forecast for Des Moines, this region is anything but decided.

The clear favorites for the North Central will be the #1 St. Olaf Bezerkers. What hasn’t been said about this team yet? Led by future D-III legend Will Brandt, the Zerks already won two tournaments this season, going basically1 undefeated against other D-III teams. Olaf has much more than a regional title in their goals, as they don’t want to end this season without a national title in Will Brandt’s senior year. Compared to their title run cut short by Oklahoma Christian in 2022, this iteration of the team has a lot more depth. 2022 DPOTY and sixth-year Gordon Larson, Sub Zero’s Eric Crosby Lehman, and Mallard II legend Matt Kompelien are just some of the names fans will need to know by the time we reach Milwaukee. For fans looking for deeper cuts, watch out for underclassmen Owen Lehmkuhl and Jonas Geere, who have both stepped into big roles this year. At the end of the day, however, teams’ best bet at taking down the number one seed will be limiting Will Brandt’s impact.

Heading to the other side of Northfield is where we find the number two seed and #8 in our rankings – Carleton CHOP. CHOP have completely transformed themselves after a disappointing last two years where they didn’t qualify for Nationals. The 2018 champs exploded out of the gate this year, defeating a talented Duke team at Carolina Kickoff, en route to a 19-6 regular season. Chris O’Mara leads this young Hawaiian shirt wearing team, along with Jonah Tannen, Gabe Driscoll, and Henry Nieckarz. Inspired with a drive to win they haven’t felt in years, CHOP will be a force to reckon with in Des Moines.

Hoping to steal the second bid will be #16 Michigan Tech Disco-Tech. Four plus hours away from any major city has not stopped Disco-Tech from dancing with the stars this season. They made the long drive from the Upper Peninsula to North Carolina for FCS D-III Tuneup, where they went 4-3, defeating previously ranked UNC Asheville and Xavier. Tech plays classic D-III ball, often happy to throw up strange shots and play defense to get the disc back. The team is filled with athletes, most notably the fifth-year Donajkowski twins Clay and Colin. Disco Tech will either need to use the poor weather this weekend to their advantage or otherwise be much more patient with the disc if they want to punch their first ticket to Nationals since 2019.

Lastly, #18 Macalester Flat Earth will try to shake things up in Des Moines this weekend. Flat Earth have made quick improvements since re-establishing and renaming their squad in 2021. While they didn’t have the most outstanding season ever, there are certainly highlights including defeating the previously #10 team Colorado School of Mines. Another set of twins in the NC – Owen and Kyle Suelflow – will try to lead Macalester to their first Nationals ever. It will be a tough mountain to climb, but Flat Earth are a young team with plenty of time to reach the top. This year may not be the year it happens, but don’t count them out from upsetting teams in bracket play.

While Grinnell has taken a large step back since U24 star Jacob Cowan graduated last year, current star Will Norry will try to use the last two years of experience to bring the Grinnellephants back to Milwaukee. Other teams like Carthage who made waves after their deep bracket run last year and the 10-6 Wisconsin-Platteville Udderburn will attempt to shake things up in a miserable weather but exciting North Central weekend.

Ohio Valley

Score Reporter
Location: Butler, Pennsylvania
Favorites: #10 Franciscan, #9 Cedarville
Contenders: #22 Oberlin, Scranton, Kenyon, Xavier
Nationals Bids: 2
Excitement Level: 🔥🔥

It’s been a breakout year for the division’s Ohio Valley representatives. And with two bids on the line, the field looks more competitive than ever.

Since they swept their competition at FCS, #10 Franciscan Fatal has looked the part of the Regionals front-runners. They’ve taken it up a notch this spring, putting up an undefeated regular season on their way to the series. But an impressive upset at Conferences from the up-and-coming #9 Cedarville Swarm squad served as a reality check.

Swarm handily defeated Fatal last weekend, establishing themselves as the Valley’s Goliath. On the way to a Conferences victory, Swarm’s huck-heavy playstyle served as their largest asset. But they were far from one-dimensional. Cedarville complements their downfield dominance with crafty handler movement and a stifling zone. This is not to say Franciscan isn’t capable of enacting revenge against Swarm; Fatal’s greatest strength is their athletic depth. Up and down their roster you will find scrappy, aggressive athletes. The Valley may very well witness another showdown between these two powerhouses. But they aren’t the only ones worth mentioning.

Always the wild card, Scranton Electric City enter the weekend shrouded in mystery. They are one of few attendees who can afford this advantage, and it may be their greatest edge. There’s no Ultiworld archived stream and just one tournament’s worth of results to serve as scouting material for their opponents. Rivals will have to adjust to Scranton’s strengths, star players, and defensive schematics in real time. This situation has posed serious problems for the likes of Oberlin and Kenyon, two teams who will be looking to push beyond their Conferences performances.

Last, but far from least, are the good ol’ B.L.O.B. While Xavier B.L.O.B. have given varying results over the course of the season, they are one of, if not the Most Improved squad in this season’s Ohio Valley. Perhaps that momentum will lend them strength this weekend.

There will be blood in Butler, PA. Out of the ashes will emerge two bid-earners. Let the games begin.

South Central

Score Reporter
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Favorites: #2 Oklahoma Christian, #19 Colorado School of Mines
Contenders: #20 Colorado College, Missouri S&T, John Brown, Truman State
Nationals Bids: 2
Excitement Level: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Last year’s South Central Men’s Regionals provided perhaps the most shocking result in college regionals history, when the (at the time) two-time defending champion and #1 ranked Oklahoma Christian failed to secure a bid to Nationals in a three bid region. The 2023 Eagles lost to Missouri S&T in pool play, Colorado College in the regional semifinals (which was a game-to-go), and then John Brown in the 3rd place semifinals, which eliminated them from Nationals contention and dropped them into the fifth place game. The collapse was historic and sent shockwaves across the country, backing up the claim that the South Central is one of, if not the deepest, regions in the division.

This year, the chaos continued. #20 Colorado College Wasabi, the reigning champion, came into the season ranked #3 and as a championship contender, yet failed to earn a bid for their region, instead ending the season with a losing record and as the 25th ranked team in USA Ultimate’s final rankings. In fact, the region almost missed out on a strength bid at all, that is before #19 Colorado School of Mines Entropy put together a strong 19-3 season that saw them defend their status as bid stealer from last year’s Regionals. These regular season performances mean we head into the weekend with a tense regional outlook as six teams who appeared in our power rankings this year at one point or another compete for two bids to Nationals, guaranteeing either a bid is stolen or one of the two teams who have won the division title since the pandemic see their season come to an end a month earlier than planned.

The clear favorites for the first bid are the OC Eagles, the decorated scholarship program that arose post-pandemic to immediate success. Like last year, the Eagles had a successful regular season, racking up wins over solid D-I programs like UC-San Diego, Tulane, and Missouri. The Eagles are led by Sammy Roberts, Emmanuel Kameri, and Ryan Loui-Ying, players whose names should be in discussion for end of season awards if the Eagles successfully qualify for Nationals. On paper, that’s not too big of an if, as there seems to be a large gap between Oklahoma Christian and the other teams in the region, which was not the case last year when Colorado College and Missouri S&T in particular were much stronger teams. That said, Oklahoma Christian will have to prove they can exorcise their own demons as they look to move onto Nationals and their larger goal of winning a national title.

If Oklahoma Christian locks up the first bid, it should be an absolute dog fight for the second and final bid to Milwaukee. After beating Colorado College on universe point in the conference final, it would appear Colorado School of Mines has the inside track to the second bid, if only barely. Entropy had a stronger regular season than their statemate Wasabi, building well on their surprise Nationals appearance last year, although they played their first two tournaments against relatively weak fields and then lost to Macalester and Davenport in their only intra-division play of the season. While Colorado College failed to live up to their sky-high preseason expectations, word on the street is Wasabi were playing without 2023 RoTY Oliver van Linder for some of the regular season. Perhaps his reintegration into the lineup will lead to a peak at the perfect moment and Wasabi can reverse their Conferences results. The teams are poised to potentially provide fans with one of the most exciting games-to-go of all those taking place across the country.

Beyond these two ranked teams, Missouri S&T Miner Threat, John Brown Ironfist, and Truman State JujiTSU will all fight in the hopes to have a shot in the game-to-go. Of the three, it seems JujiTSU are the most likely to emerge from the chaos, after beating both Miner Threat and Ironfist by three goals at Conferences.

  1. St Olaf lost to CHOP at Ugly Dome, a tournament they use to get equal reps, and Olaf beat CHOP 11-6 later in the season 

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  1. Bix Weissberg
    Bix Weissberg

    Bix Weissberg plays D-line on the Oberlin Flying Horsecows. He has a love for disc and enjoys writing about DIII college frisbee. In his free time he can be found eating something tasty and smiling. You can reach him at [email protected]

  2. Calvin Ciorba
    Calvin Ciorba

    Calvin Ciorba is a D-III Men's writer currently studying Leadership and Economics in his junior year at the University of Richmond. He started his ultimate career in St. Louis, MO playing ultimate at Ladue High School and St. Louis Storm YCC, when he also created the popular frisbee Instagram account Discmemes. Now he has sold the account and plays for the UR Spidermonkeys. You can find him on twitter @calvin_ciorba for passionate takes on the "People's Division."

  3. 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.

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