Kevin Key, Contributing Writer
Each year, the University of North Texas (UNT) hosts a big winter tournament for Ultimate frisbee clubs from a plethora of Division I and a couple of Division III schools. This past weekend, University of Dallas Ultimate (UDU) made the trip up to Denton for the tournament.
UDU started off with losses to Kansas State University (13-6) and Texas State University (13-2), both Division I schools. For the rest of the day, UDU played well, inspired by a “sick D” (a layout block) by sophomore Adam Brill, raking in three wins against Baylor University’s B team (13-1), Rice University (13-3), and LeTourneau University (13-5). In the games against Baylor and LeTourneau, the team was able to get a lot more playing time for some of its players, especially freshmen Titus Willard and Holden Berg, who made a great showing for the weekend.
The big game of the day, however, was against Rice, who qualified for Division III nationals last year. The intensity was high, and the UD side came out on fire, going 4-0 at the start and closing the half at 7-2. UDU put out its best line, led by the three Christians: senior and captain Christian Walker, junior Christian Gontarz, and seminarian Christian Gaeta. Freshman Jack Teller said the game really exemplified “clean, chilly offense.”
With the three wins, UDU advanced to the winners’ bracket on Sunday. The team started off against one of its old rivals, Texas Christian University (TCU). After last year’s season closer, in which UDU beat TCU 13-4, both teams were excited for another meeting, and TCU really wanted the win back.
With this in mind, coach Paul Utesch and Walker called their eager and experienced team to the field. This was the closest battle of the weekend. Utesch was able to lead the team through the game with UDU taking the half at 8-7. UDU’s defense carried the game, with junior Zack Wellwerts and sophomore John Stein both skying their marks to get turnovers. The final point was scored by senior Matthew Melendez off a full-field throw from Walker. The game ended 15-13.
The final game for UDU was a rematch against Texas State. After some pre-game scouting, Utesch informed UDU that it would be fighting for fifth place in the tourney. The final standings for the other teams in the winning bracket were: Texas A&M University in first place, Arkansas State University in second, John Brown University (JBU) in third and Baylor’s A team in fourth.
With these standings in mind, UDU easily could have been content to take sixth place in front of Division I schools Colorado State University, Kansas State, Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Arkansas, TCU and the host UNT. But the 17th-seed underdogs from Irving had something else in mind.
The game was a hard battle with wind being a huge factor. UDU made a very difficult up-wind point in the first half to get a two-point lead, which it later extended to win the game 15-12 and take the fifth place spot out of 21 teams. UD was one of only two Division III schools, along with JBU’s great team “Ironfist,” to finish in the top 10.