Can winning 14 games in a row give you enough momentum to play at a national level? The Ironfist Ultimate Frisbee Club is about to find out.
Ironfist, John Brown University’s men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club, is currently riding a 14-0 win streak, including two undefeated appearances at their last two tournaments.
The team had one tournament in Waco at the end of spring break, as well as one in Fayetteville, according to freshman Ethan Bolthouse.
“Both of those were extremely successful for our team — we were undefeated in both… It’s huge to win two tournaments in a row.”
Though they struggled early in the season, Ironfist eventually developed their form.
“We’ve played four tournaments this semester,” said senior handle and team captain Aric Powers. “One of them was in Indiana, which was kind of our low point in the semester. It was our first tournament; we lost two games at that tournament… We also lost two games at the Dust Bowl Tournament.”
As the season progressed, Ironfist has developed into a team with not only excellent form but also great chemistry.
“We have a lot of new athletes on the team this year,” said senior cutter Kyle Dyer. “We got used to playing with each other.”
Ironfist went undefeated in the Sectional Tournament in Fayetteville April 11-12. Dyer said that the Sectional Tournament was a great time to learn what the team’s strengths and weaknesses were so that they could improve going forward.
“We learned our defensive line can play fast and intense,” Dyer said. “They can come down fast, take the disk and punch it in. We learned that our offensive line can possess the disk, score when we need to and bounce back when we get broken, which good teams do.”
Going forward, Ironfist will play in the regional tournament in Tulsa, Okla., which will be held April 25-26. How well the team plays in regionals will determine if they make it into nationals. The team is expecting the tournament to be a challenge, especially against Harding University, who placed second in sectionals after playing Ironfist in the championship game. If they meet again in regionals, Ironfist expects to play a tough match against Harding.
“If we don’t play our best, we know that any team can beat us,” said Powers. “(Harding is) a team we respect. Given just playing bad or allowing them to, they could definitely come and beat us.”
Not only that, but Ironfist also has faced recent challenges within their team with the loss of senior Matt Weeden, one of their handles.
“He had a head injury in our last game; he ended up with a concussion and had to get stitched up,” said Powers. “We don’t really see him playing at regionals. Going in, we’re going to have to be prepared to fill that spot and run our offense without him.”
In order to counter those challenges, Ironfist has been practicing three days a week, specifically in preparation for critical in-game situations.
“We’ve done a lot of throwing and conditioning; stuff like running for drops,” said Bolthouse. “When you’re tired, you need to be able to make throws and know that you can make them. It’s just building up your own confidence in your throws and catches when you’re tired.”
Overall, in spite of the upcoming challenges, the team feels confident going into regionals and hopefully nationals.
“I feel like everyone’s pretty confident going forward,” said senior cutter Nelson Butler. “We feel that, as long as we put in the time and practice, we’ll be prepared to go on. I expect that we should reach nationals again. I think most of the guys on the team would be surprised if we didn’t at least do our best. We’re a caliber team.”