Ironfist’s quest for the national tournament begins this weekend.
Division III Collegiate Ultimate Frisbee begins its sectional tournaments on Saturday, and Ironfist, John Brown University’s men’s team, will travel to Tulsa, Okla. and compete in their own sectional tournament. The tournament will include clubs representing schools from the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri.
If Ironfist qualifies, they will move on to the regional tournament, which will include qualifying clubs from their section as well as clubs from Texas.
“This is only the second year of our sectional tournament,” Ethan Penner, cutter, said. “It’s exciting to see the growth of the region. We have some really good competition this year and it’s exciting with such a high ranking on our team going into it this year.”
Ironfist will be competing to land within the top eight teams, which would ensure a place in the regional tournament. The club, which is currently ranked number one in the nation among Division III schools, is looking to build momentum throughout this weekend so that it can compete well going into regionals.
“We’re trying to peak,” Ryan Gulbranson, handle, said. “We’re getting to the point where we’re the best that we’ll be going into Regionals. Everything we’ve practiced all season long is toward the goal of taking where we are and just boosting it to that next level.”
Though Ironfist is ranked first in the nation among Division III teams, they have competition to overcome within their section this weekend. Such competition is found in Air Force, which is ranked ninth in the nation, and Colorado College, which is ranked eleventh.
An injury-ridden Ironfist edged Air Force by one point in their last competition. Mark Belvardi, cutter, pointed out that Air Force is a strong team that Ironfist looks forward to battling at full strength. He also mentioned that Colorado College will present a challenge for Ironfist due to the fact that they are a team that is used to tougher competition.
“Colorado College is a team that has played in Division I the past few years, and they’re moving back down into Division III,” Belvardi said. “They’re not a team we’ve played yet. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”
In spite of the challenges that await Ironfist this weekend, the team is confident that they can rise to the occasion and play their way into the regional tournament. Belvardi said that the team has to play at its best to ensure their place in regionals.
“I think that we have a really good shot of making it,” Belvardi said. “Unless we really don’t play up to our potential, we’re gonna go.”
Gulbranson agreed with Belvardi and said that the team is already fully capable of making it to the next round. He said that the team just has to do what they’ve been doing all along to ensure their advancement.
“We’re just gonna go into it, play our game and do everything as we have in the past,” Gulbranson said. “We’re not going to make any adjustments based on playing better teams. As long as we play the way we’re used to playing, we’re our best. In order to beat other great teams, we just have to be ourselves.”