By Lili Martinez
The men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, SERF, swept the competition at last weekend’s Ohio Division III Conference Championships in North Ridgeville, Ohio, going 6-0 and earning a bid to the Division I Regional Championships. At home, the women’s team went 1-5 in their own Conference Championships, beating Ohio Wesleyan University in game two but losing the rest of their games.
Despite the Ladies’ losses, co-captains Olivia Sabik ’14 and Claire Dutton ’14 were happy with the tournament as a way to give their new players experience against other teams. “We’re kind of in a rebuilding year, so we have a lot of newbies that haven’t played against other teams in a lot of games so far,” Sabik said. She added that although the team hadn’t entered the tournament expecting to win, they gained valuable experience. “We call it a learnament. It’s to take the pressure off the newer players on the team, so it was an experience-builder for us,” she said.
The Ladies’ first game against the College of Wooster ﾗ the team that ultimately took second place in the championship ﾗ was an especially successful one. “We were a little concerned about [the Wooster team], but we scored a couple of the first few points really quickly and well, and we were just playing really well,” she said. Wooster ultimately won the game, 12-10, but the close score was encouraging for Kenyon’s young team.
“Most of our games, we may have lost in the end by one or two points, but we went down fighting,” Dutton said. “I was really proud of our team. In the end ﾅ it doesn’t really matter to us if we went one and five. All that matters is how we played.”
The women’s team is hopeful for next year, when their new players will be more experienced and the large class of rising seniors will be at full force. “Next year is definitely the year we’re going big,” Dutton said. “Our goal is to go to nationals. We’re going to have a really strong senior class and ﾅ we want to get out there and go as far as we can.”
“Next year is the year when we’re really leaving it all on the field,” Sabik said.
While the women played through the cold and rainy weekend at Kenyon, the men’s team traveled to North Ridgeville, outside of Cleveland, to play seven other teams from the Ohio Valley conference. The Kenyon team won its four Saturday games handily: 15-8 against Ohio Northern University, 15-2 against John Carroll University, 15-8 against Oberlin College and 8-2 against Ohio Wesleyan University.
“We went in ranked number one in the country, so we expected to win,” said Max Dugan ’14, one of the team’s three co-captains. “Our conference is very good in the scheme of things in Division III. Two of the teams are really well-ranked, Xavier [University] and Denison [University], and Oberlin is really good this year too.” However, with the exception of a close game against Xavier on day two of the conference, SERF lived up to their number one seed and beat Denison and Oberlin handily.
“It’s the best ultimate we’ve played all year,” Dugan said.
In the finals, SERF traded points with Xavier until the half, then pulled ahead to win 13-10, securing the top spot in the conference.
With one bid to Division I Regionals available at the Conference Championship, the team made a decision: rather than moving on to play in the Division III Regional Championships, SERF opted to move to Division I play. They will be competing in the Division I Ohio Valley Regionals on Sendoff weekend, April 27 and 28. The last time the team competed at the DI level, in 2011, they placed 6th at Nationals. They hope to do even better this year.
Co-captain Jordan Rhyne ’13 has seen the team grow over four years into a more competitive, skilled group. “Since we’ve started playing in this tournament we’ve been deeper and had more talent,” he said. “Fifteen or 16 guys see a lot of playing time most every game, which is a lot more than we’ve had in the past. We can outrun teams, and our skill level is just a little bit above where the other Ohio DIII schools are.”
Rhyne said Division I Regionals will be an important experience for the team. “It’s good for the program, we’ll play more competitive teams in general at DI Regionals than we would at DIII Regionals,” he said. “It’s a good building experience for guys who will be back next year and for seniors like me it’s good to play against the best competition we have.”
Rhyne has high hopes for SERF in the years to come. “Each class has a couple key players who contribute a lot, either offensively or defensively, so I think the team is going to continue to improve,” he said.