2016 Season Recap
Florida Warm Up (February 13-14 in Tampa, Florida)
NUT started off its 2016 regular season with a trip to Tampa for Florida Warm Up, a tournament hosted by the University of South Florida. This was our third consecutive year participating in this tournament, and once again Sahaj Kumar’s family graciously hosted us in their home. Bolt (Northwestern Ultimate’s developmental team) also flew down for the tournament to compete in the developmental division, marking the first time Bolt has ever flown to a nationally competitive developmental tournament.
NUT did not achieve the results we anticipated going into the weekend, finishing with a 1-8 record. However, the team steadily improved over the tournament’s three days. Our one win came on Sunday against regional rival Illinois. Despite the not great results, this was a turning point in the season for us, as we realized how much work we needed to do before the rest of the season. Highlights of the weekend include Micky Koho’s Callahan against future national champions Minnesota, Matt Niemer’s huge sky against Connecticut, and Jay Valdillez’s layout D on universe point against Illinois.
Bama Secs Beach Party (March 19-20 in Gulf Shores, Alabama)
NUT’s next tournament fell on the first weekend of Northwestern’s spring break. The team road tripped down to Alabama (special thanks to Will Blackwell’s mom for hosting us overnight and making the trip easier) to participate in the inaugural edition of the Bama Secs Beach Party. Traveling to this tournament gave us the opportunity to compete against several southern teams that NUT does not usually get the chance to play.
NUT easily won its pool on Saturday, with the closest game being a 4-point win over Mississippi State. After two wins and a forfeit win on Sunday morning, NUT found itself in the finals against Georgia Tech, a southern powerhouse. NUT went down early, but fought back early in the second half and gutted out a 3-point victory. Breakout tournaments by Kyle Rutledge and Will Frolich helped propel the team to first place.
Spring Break (March 21-27 in Pensacola, Florida)
Following the conclusion of the Bama Secs Beach Party, most of NUT stayed in the south and spent spring break in Pensacola. We rented a beautiful duplex house on the beach and split it with Gung-ho, Northwestern’s women’s ultimate team. Several members of Bolt also made the trip down to Pensacola, with some electing to watch NUT play at Bama Secs and some flying in just for spring break. The week was filled with fun and bonding. As always, spring break was a huge highlight of the year for our program.
Huck Finn (April 2-3 in St. Louis, Missouri)
For our final regular season tournament, the team traveled to St. Louis to play in the 20th edition of Huck Finn. The tournament featured incredibly strong winds, gusting up to 40 mph on both days. After opening with wins against Mississippi State (again) and St. Louis University, NUT fell out of championship contention after a loss to Penn State. To close out Saturday, NUT won a hard-fought, universe point game against the University of Chicago, another regional rival. This game featured a lot of big plays, including big throws by Henry Richey and Sahaj Kumar. NUT went 2-1 on Sunday in consolation play. Though the weather wasn’t ideal, the team became a lot tougher after a weekend of struggling in harsh weather conditions.
Illinois Conference Championships (April 16-17 in Rantoul, Illinois)
For the first part of the USA Ultimate postseason, NUT sought to defend its 2015 conference title in Rantoul. After a strong 4-0 performance on Saturday, we found ourselves having to win back-to-back games against UChicago and Illinois in order to repeat as conference champions. This task was not too big for the team, as we were able to win both games and claim the Illinois Conference title once again. Michael Hamburger and Nathan Yeazel were huge all Sunday for NUT, generating tons of offense with their cutting. This win qualified NUT as the 4th seed to Great Lakes regionals.
Great Lakes Regionals (April 30 – May 1 in Fair Oaks, Indiana)
NUT entered the weekend needing to win the tournament in order to qualify for the College Championships – otherwise, our season was over. Saturday featured the worst weather we played in all year: cold, pouring rain, and very windy. Despite the conditions, NUT managed to gut out 3 wins and earn a quarterfinal matchup with Illinois on Sunday morning.
The quarterfinal matchup was back and forth the whole game, with the teams never being separated by more than a goal. A massive D from Kyle Condron put NUT up early, but Illinois clawed back with some great D of their own. Eventually, the game came down to universe point, when Illinois was able to make a big play on defense and punch in the game winning score. This marked the end of NUT’s competitive season. NUT followed up this game with two wins in consolation play, ending the season with our second consecutive fifth place finish at Great Lakes regionals. Our 7 graduating seniors fought hard all weekend to conclude their memorable careers.
NUT is looking for bigger and better things in the 2016-2017 season. We hope you’re part of it.