High School National Invite 2024: Tournament Preview

The deepest high school tournament in the country!

It is here: the 2024 High School National Invite! 32 of the nation’s best high school teams arrive to Rockford this week to battle for the most prestigious title in high school ultimate.

We’ve got you covered for all the exciting action this weekend. Follow along on the HSNI Event Page for livestreams and updates throughout the weekend.

Tournament Profile

  • Location: Rockford, IL
  • Dates: June 7-8, 2024
  • Weather: Warm and mostly sunny on both Friday and Saturday, with highs of 75. Forecasts show winds from 5-18 mph, peaking just after mid day. Saturday should be less windy, but not by much.
  • Top 25 Teams: 16 Boys, 16 Girls
  • Tournament Schedule
  • Ultiworld Live Page

Livestreaming Schedule

Ultiworld will be streaming 24 total games throughout pool play and the bracket, available for Ultiworld Standard and All-Access subscribers as well as those who purchase the HSNI Event Pack! This coverage includes all of the semifinals and finals on Saturday. All four semifinals will be streamed; one from each division will feature commentary.

See the full livestreaming schedule here.

Boys Division

Eastside Prep vs. Green Canyon at HSNI 2023. Photo: Katie Cooper — UltiPhotos.com

This year’s Boys Division is looking like it could be a real rumble in Rockford, with Eastside Prep, Jordan, Green Canyon, and Edina all heading into the tournament undefeated. Many of these teams are littered with U20 team members and tryouts who are rearing to compete on the biggest stage that high school ultimate has to offer. It’s hard to say who will come home with the hardware this year, with so much parity between the top teams — it could all come down to a single player, single point, or even a single throw.

Pool A

Seattle Invite and Washington state champion Eastside Prep (WA) is the favorite to take the pool and the tournament if you go by the chalk. After not having dropped a single game the entire season, Eastside Prep standouts Axel Olson, Filip Icev, and Daniel Chickering will be eager to keep the regular season crown atop their heads. Eastside made it to the 2023 HSNI final where they fell to a powerhouse Lone Peak team.

Winning the pool, let alone the title, will not be a given, though, not if Sam Grossberg has anything to say about it. The Wissahickon (PA) senior and U20 national team member will have just one last shot to help his team win a high school national title. Given that he and many of the other seniors have graduation Thursday before the tournament, which Grossberg is skipping all together, you can count on him leaving it all on the field this weekend. Get used to the name, as his younger brother Jonah seems primed to continue the connection Sam had with his brother Adam last year.

Rounding out the pool are West Jessamine and Berkeley; neither team should be underestimated. Elliot Hawkins of West Jessamine (KY) will be one to watch. He has been solid for the Indianapolis Alleycats in the UFA this season and was selected to play on the U20 National Team as well. With all of the experience he has been building up, expect to see some amazing things from him when the horn blows to start the day on Friday. Berkeley (CA), the 2019 HSNI champion and the top team in California, has a pair of U20 national teamers in Stefan McCall and Sanam Rozycki-Shah, although we’re particularly looking forward to the team’s traditional post-game haikus.

Pool B

Pool B is sure to be a fun one. With Jordan (NC), the undisputed best team in the Triangle, coming in as one of the four undefeated teams in attendance, how high is their ceiling? They’ve got a slew of notable alumni and upcoming U20 players, it is no surprise that Jordan continues to be one of the best teams at the tournament year after year. This year’s Jordan team features Kyler Wieties, Will Badsen, and Brayden Morrison, all of whom are Worlds players and play on the O-line together.

It will be up to South Eugene, LASA, and Lexington to try and take down Jordan to win the pool. All teams seem to be up to the task, though, showing throughout the regular season that they can hang with and even beat the top teams. Lexington (MA) showed this when, after they went 1-2 on Saturday at Amherst Invite, they roared into the bracket, defeating Pennsbury in the final, to clinch an autoberth to HSNI. Will they be able to catch fire again? They didn’t take home the Massachusetts state title — that went to Arlington — so they’ve got their work cut out for them.

LASA (TX) is the first team from Texas to attend HSNI; they are the three time state champs and already have wins over other attendees. Both Vance Mader and Rachael Joy-Rocha got national team tryout invites and are multi-year team captains. Akash McMinn is a key downfield playmaker, as is Iago Ansede. They earned an HSNI bid thanks to a strong showing at the River Campus Classic early in the Spring, which included a win over West Jessamine.

Don’t look past South Eugene (OR), an experienced and high flying team that has had success at HSNI in the past. They tend to use their depth and wide variety of playmakers to put opponents through the wringer. U20 selection CJ Kaperick and tryout invitees Sam Anderson and Akira Koeningsberg are all high impact players for a team that has proven they can compete with top teams at events like Seattle Invite. They lost in the final of Spaghetti Western this season to Green Canyon.

Pool C

Green Canyon (UT) has had an amazing undefeated season leading up into HSNI. Led by a senior trio of Nate De Morgan, Sam Nichols, and Dillon Geddes, this team just knows how to win games. Several of the members of this Green Canyon side were major parts of the Utah Swarm U20 team that dominated last year’s YCC tournament. Green Canyon will be looking to add another trophy to the wall after this weekend and continue to show just how strong the Utah youth scene is after Lone Peak claimed the last two HSNI titles.

Lincoln, St. Louis Park, and Pennsbury could get in the way of Green Canyon’s aspirations, though. Lincoln (WA) brings Ben Bolan, one of the few U20 Canada players, to the tournament. He will be looking to match up against some future Team USA opponents here this weekend.

Pennsbury (PA) will be in attendance but notably without their all-star player, Kyle Ford, who injured his knee in their state championship game against Wissahickon. We will have to wait and see who will step up in place of Ford to lead Pennsbury this weekend, but they have been one of the top East Coast teams all season.

Thomas Shope could be the best player in the division and leads the way for St. Louis Park (MN), a battle-tested team who has a state final on Wednesday night (unfortunately conflicting with a rescheduled graduation) to tune up for the weekend. They have built a reputation as a highly energetic bunch and expect more of the same from captains Shope, Noam Halpern, and Parker Knudson. Do they have more upsets in them this year?

Pool D

I know we are beating a dead horse by saying that Pool D is the pool of death, but this time we really mean it. Pool D boasts two qualifying tournament winners, Edina and Jackson-Reed, who won Neuqua Knockout and River Campus Classic, respectively. Not to mention that the HSNI 2023 champions, Lone Peak, are rounding out the bottom of the pool as the bottom seed in the tournament. Whoever comes out of pool D on top will have truly earned their ticket to the quarterfinals. This pool is going to be a dogfight, folks, so break out your popcorn and your 3-D glasses.

It is hard to pick a favorite between Edina and Jackson-Reed. Both teams have their laurels from their high school regular season. Each won a HSNI qualifying tournament with ease. Edina (MN) may have the slight advantage as an undefeated side, but with that comes the pressure as well. Edina will look to rely on players like Zach Morton, Charlie Teply, and Walter Hipps. All are able to cross over and make a difference on both sides of the disc, but they’ll have to match up against dynamic Marcus Lee and an athletic Jackson-Reed (DC) side if they hope to take the pool.

Don’t count out Lone Peak or Nathan Hale, though. Both teams have been to this tournament year in and year out and know what it takes to win, especially Lone Peak (UT). Nathan Hale (WA) will come to Rockford ready to unleash Cedar Hines and Willie Saxon — of Sockeye and Mixtape, respectively — upon their opponents. Expect a well-coached team that won’t play afraid of anyone.

This pool offers some fascinating cross-regional battles, with Eastern, Central, Mountain West, and West Coast teams all represented.

Girls Division

South Eugene vs. Green Canyon at HSNI 2023. Photo: Katie Cooper — UltiPhotos.com

The Wonders of the West

After back-to-back titles, South Eugene (OR) returns to HSNI at the no.1 seed after another strong regular season. They come into the tournament with close wins over Roosevelt and Lincoln, and most recently a drubbing of Summit in the Spaghetti Western final. While their resume is more than enough to cement them at the top of the pecking order, the rest of the field has their eyes set on a potential upset. A lot of the driving talent from the last two title teams is gone. While it is a remarkable credit to this program and its leadership to have been this good in 2024, between the changes in the roster, the close Seattle Invite scores, and a blowout loss for Oregon in the YCC Girls Division final, they don’t quite have the same air of invincibility. Still, nobody will be taking Fluffy Jones, Helen Burruss, Ollie Bunson, and company lightly. Expect the same high-flying play we’ve come to know from them.

Three Seattle teams are lined up as the top challengers for South Eugene. Roosevelt (WA) began the season the #1 ranked team in our Power Rankings, led by Team USA picks Chloe Hakimi, ZsaZsa Gelfand, and Vivian Hakimi. Their experienced and skilled roster finished third at Seattle Invite and won a hard-fought DiscNW championship. Meanwhile, Lincoln (WA) finished second at the same events and also have plenty of returning talent, with U20 national teamers Ella Widmyer and Madoka Uo providing an incredibly sturdy backfield, and Milo Brown and Anna Ammann creating matchup issues elsewhere. Finally, Nathan Hale (WA), who finished tied third in DiscNW after an 11-9 loss to Lincoln in semifinals, has had a lot of success at HSNI. Rowan Lymp was a defensive monster at last year’s tournament, and Isabella Pharr is a very reliable offensive presence.

Perhaps Grand Canyon (UT) can break up the Northwest party fro the no.5 seed. After upsetting Lincoln in quarterfinals last year and giving South Eugene a strong game, many of the top contributors from last year’s team moved on. Now Carly Nash, Kylee Cox, and Breesen Hoehne are tasked with keeping up the team’s aggressive, fast-paced, and physical style of play that can run opposition out of gas. They struggled in their trip to Seattle Invite, but perhaps their lessons learned will let them again flip the script on the higher seeded Oregon and Washington teams.

While they aren’t seeded as highly, the strength of their competition indicates that the other western teams should not be overlooked. Garfield (WA) has a win over Nathan Hale in their pocket, showing they have a ceiling many other teams might not reach. Mira Schneeweis-LaRene helped DiscNW win a YCC title last year, while Nor Luloff has shown big offensive propensity. Summit (OR) were a tough out at last year’s HSNI, and with the Melner triplets back, expect to be doing double-takes regularly. Freshman Eila Bodo and junior Bodhi Williams make for a strong handler duo, too. Their bold style of play helped them reach the Spaghetti Westerns final. And while Lone Peak (UT) doesn’t come into the tournament on the same run as year’s past, the club’s reputation speaks for itself. This year’s iteration is young, with sophomore Abby Pace as a standout along with senior Tara McBride, but expect the same never-quit attitude and energy from them you’ve come to know.

Challengers Out East

From East of the Mississippi come Decatur and Jackson-Reed. A victory at River Campus Classic, including wins over Midtown (GA) and USN (TN) earned Jackson-Reed (DC) their spot at HSNI. Sofia Ames-Rodriguez, Helen Bates, and 16-year old Safya Biswal anchored their attack. Biswal’s agility and quick release make her a player to watch as her game develops. Decatur (GA) has lost only a single game this season (the GA State final against #8 Paideia, whose school rules don’t allow the team to travel to HSNI) and has a spirited, tight-knit roster. Katie Sanders will be a key figure for DHS.

While they haven’t made title runs (yet), top teams from Massachusetts have a very strong history at HSNI. The state sends Newton North (MA) and Northampton (MA) this year; neither club should be overlooked. Both were finalists at Amherst Invite, with Northampton taking the 10-9 victory over Newton North to follow up an 11-7 pool play win. They made it 3-0 in the series by winning the MA State Championship 9-7. Olive Polson-Filas, a national team tryout invitee, can win in the deep game as both a receiver and thrower, while fellow handlers and captains Tatum Hathaway and Lila Nields-Duffy provide both leadership and disc skills. Newton North is undefeated outside of those three losses to Northampton, earning wins over the likes of Four Rivers, Amherst, and HB Woodlawn. They showed resilience in their run to the Amherst Invite final, playing through both the rough weather and facing some unfortunate injuries. Senior Grace Vaughn is a key veteran leader for the club.

Speaking of Amherst Invite, third place at that event went to Strath Haven (PA). The Pennsylvania State champions have only lost four games this season, all against teams in our Top 25 (Paideia, Amherst, and Northampton). They’re an athletic and young unit attending their first HSNI. Team USA’s Katie Stack, as well as Violet Abrahamsson and Lilly Hodges, provide the throwing prowess to set up the team’s speedy cutters.

The Keystone State also sends Radnor (PA), who fared well at the PHUEL City Championships and have some leaders with HSNI experience to lean on, but have been plagued by injuries. Diana Huang was selected for the U20 US National Team with good reason and provides the driving force for the team, along with senior Rona Liu-Zhong.

Minnesota’s Old and New Faces

No girls division team has been to more HSNI more than Edina (MN), and their experience is one of their best assets. Senior captains Harper McIntyre and Ev Wagner, the latter a U20 tryout invitee, have seen plenty of tough competition and can change games with their throws. While they’ll be without star Amelia Zdechlik, who will be playing in the PUL for the Minnesota Strike, up and comers Josie Wagner and Ally Adair could have breakout events with their downfield play.

Conversely, this will be Washburn (MN)‘s first High School National Invite appearance. While they’ve split results with Edina this year, a dominating 13-3 win capped off a very impressive Neuqua Kncokout performance that really cemented Washburn as a team to watch this year, and the team reached the Minnesota state final (being played Wednesday night) while Edina did not after they lost a close semifinal to South. Audrey Goeddeke, Riley Gage, and standout freshman Kumari Okumura have led the way for their balanced and flexible squad, helping them reach a 19-2 record. For a young club that has barely traveled out of state before, it has been an impressive campaign.

  1. Matt Fazzalaro
    Matt Fazzalaro

    Matt began playing ultimate in 2017 at Lambert High school in Forsyth County, Georgia. In his college career he played one year with the Samford Dogma and three years with the Georgia Jojah. Matt cites the Athens, GA ultimate community as the best he has ever experienced and also fell in love with goalty there. Matt now lives, works, and plays ultimate in Atlanta, GA.

  2. Keith Raynor
    Keith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is a Senior Editor and the Business Development Manager at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

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