When Ironfist — John Brown University’s Ultimate Frisbee club — signed up for the Heart of Texas Huckfest Tournament, they were expecting a challenge. What they weren’t expecting was to win the whole tournament.
The tournament was hosted in Waco, TX over the weekend of March 28 and 29 and was composed of 16 teams. Ironfist was one of only two Division III clubs in the tournament, which was dominated by 14 Division I teams.
“We were actually scheduled to go to a tournament in Dallas,” said Defensive Cutter and Team Captain Ethan Penner. “We ended up going to Waco because they had more and better teams. We wanted some better competition to really test us for the postseason.”
The preliminary stage of the tournament was divided into four different pools, each consisting of four different teams, each team playing each other. The two teams with the best records within the pool advanced to the Championship Bracket, while the bottom two advanced to the Consolation Bracket. Ironfist, which was one of the top two teams in their pool, made it to the Championship Bracket.
“We played University of North Texas, University of San Antonio and University of Texas’ C team,” said Handler and team Vice President Ryan Gulbranson. “Also, we played Texas State on Saturday, and on Sunday, we played Texas A&M’s B team, Baylor and Texas State again in the championship.”
While winning the Championship Bracket was definitely exciting, the players agree that, for them, the best moment of the entire tournament was defeating Baylor, a team that was ranked five places higher than Ironfist, by a score of 12-4.
“We got up 6-0 and scored into the wind three times in that stretch,” said Penner. “We took half 8-1 and scored into the wind again.”
Their victory over Baylor put them in the Championship Bracket final, in which they defeated Texas State University to take the title.
“We did really well in all our games and beat all the teams at least by half of our scores,” said Handler Johnnie Rothfus. “There weren’t a lot of fumbles. Our fundamentals were really good this weekend compared to what they had been.”
Ironfist’s success at the Heart of Texas Huckfest Tournamnet will hopefully help them going into sectionals, which will be held on April 11 and 12 in Fayetteville. The team has hopes of placing high enough in that tournament that they may progress to Regionals and eventually Nationals.
“What we have left is sectionals,” said Handle and team treasurer Jacob Hash. “Regionals decides who goes to Nationals, which would obviously be really nice to win in this year. The significance of this tournament is that it really helps our ranking, which hopefully gives our region more chances to go to Nationals.”
Going forward, Ironfist hopes to continue their current pattern of play going into their upcoming tournament.
“We’re just gonna try to keep improving,” said Penner. “The main focus was just keeping our fundamentals up; just being 100% sure on every throw and every catch… The other focus is conditioning. When you play seven games that are over an hour and a half long in a weekend, it wears you down big time. So we’re gonna try to be in pretty good shape come sectionals and regionals. That’s kind of my goal– to be in top shape when we hit regionals.”
Looking forward, the team is excited to grow, both through practice and in-game experience.
“Every time we go to a tournament that’s at a high level like that, especially in nationals, our team grows in leaps and bounds,” said Hash. “We have gotten a lot better and we still can get a lot better.”