Warm Up: A Hodag Affair
Three days and nine wins later Wisconsin returns from a disappointingly mild but relatively gorgeous Tampa, FL with the first tournament win of the season. With a stacked turnout including contenders like Pitt, CUT, UCF, Florida, and Texas, the Hodags were unsure how their indoor turf practicing, 6:30am lifting regimen, and countless 200’s would translate to the field. Something must be going right, as 6/9 games began with at least two breaks and only being down twice the entire tournament, at 0-1 after starting on D.
The first matchup was against Dayton, who scored off the bat putting the count at 0-1. Wisco answered with 4 straight points, Dayton gets 1, and then another 3 straight to half…and then 3 more to put the count at 10-2 Wisconsin…Dayton manages to squeeze one more but the gads end the match at 13-3. Next opponent was Texas, a Nationals caliber team with unknown players and skill, besides the obvious Nexgener and Doublewider Bill Driscoll. Texas didn’t look ready for our smothering defense, however, as the hodags double-break to start...Team Driscoll tried to answer but was only able to muster 2 for Hoda’s 7 at half. The second half was slightly less smooth sailin’, as we give up our first break and ended 13-7, Texas showed a little more heart but not enough to make up for a crushing first half. Spoiler alert, we’ll be seeing more of them later. Next up, Maryland. We trade for a few points before distancing at 5-4 to 7-4. Another quick set of goals gets us at 10-5, then 13-6 for the final. Finally, the showcase game and matchup of the night, Pitt. After a thoroughly upsetting, yet definitive loss to Pitt last year in finals, this game felt extra significant. Especially with super stars and CC8G besties Alex Thorne and Tyler DiGiorneronimo still at the helm, as well as Max Thorne, Alex’s clone, Pittsburgh was as daunting as ever. The momentum accrued from the first three games, however, coupled with a sense of revenge and freshmen Pittsburgh native Graeme Kernick’s intense desire to prove to all ya’ll that he was right in choosing Madison over Pitt, was enough to get us moving right out of the gates with what seems to be becoming a Hodag hallmark, the double-break start. Super quick movement has Meshnik going to T in the endzone, and thanks to Peter, whom we’ve relinquished Jerry’s brute force defensive duties to, with a nice D gave Brainman the chance to rip a flick to Cletus, putting us up 2-zip. Although Shitt gets their pit together and holds, Camp bombs one Bergen-style to arguably the fastest cutter at the tournament, JO who gives it up to Dayu in the endzone, 3-1. A couple trades and Hart booms one to Becker for a break, Hodags sitting at an early, comfortable 5-2 lead. Pitt starts to claw their way back, however, and we go into half at 7-5. Things start to get messy when Pitt gets another break early in the second half at 8-7, then tie ball game at 10s. We take a 11-10 lead, followed closely by a super-clutch play where Zemen delivers a huge layout D to DiGiorno, letting Rainy plop it to district 12’s Peeta Guerin for a 12-10 lead. Pitt answers with a quick score putting the count at 12-11, match point. Sitting on our endzone, Dayu tries the ole flipperooski to a Brain Hart, but not leading enough and giving Pitt a relatively easy D, the Dags get an uneasy feeling in the Pitt of their stomach. Enter Inspector Meshnik, who gets the disc and bombs a go-go gadget backhand to Becker going deep for the game winning goal, wait…travel called. After a surprisingly civil argument about Mesh’s travel, he pulls a classic Brodman-move and slings another one to Becker, again connecting but this time without the travel. Suck it Trebek. 13-11 Hodags over Pittsburgh, aaahh sweet sweet victory. Thus ends day one of Warm Up, Saturday shit gets real.
Hodags roll out of bed at around 10 am for a 1:30p first round game…what is this? At any rate, after respective cars have gotten their McDonald’s, Waffle House, etc., they arrive at the fields to several games already in progress. The weather is a temperate 55 degrees with overcast skies and gusty 20 mph winds. Today has the Wisconsin Hodags match up against Cornell, Florida, and The CUT. Against Cornell, Hodags race off to an early lead, with a halftime score of 7-4 Wisco. We cruise on to a 10-4 count before Cornell’s able to snag one. Hart, Dayu, and Colin show off their bigtime throws and we win 13-5. Next game, and fresh off a win over Pittsburgh, we get Florida. Again, Hobags start with a double-break, with Tan going to Hart. Dayshoe shows off some smooth handler work and also gives the goal to Hart, Cooldawg to Tanman Jammer up the Jam-hole, and a Hart laser blaster to Meshnik to go up 5-1. Couple more breaks and holds, including a Colin-blade/Hart-bailout and an Aggro-Craig to Colin to take us to half 7-3. Things are moving pretty smoothly for Wisco, as there is some emotional investment in this game as well after falling to them last year at Warm up. Camp to Meshnik str8 out of half puts us at 8-3. A little slopfest with 3 turns on both sides, a super long point gives Flo-rida a hold…Hart answers with a ridonculous layout D leading to yet another break, 9-4 brodags. Another Hart-Colin connection, T to Z break, and Janet to Peter for the win 13-6, whatup. Florida sad. Now, on to The Knights, CUT, Carleton, Simon. CUT’s lucky enough to be the 2nd and last team of the tournament to have a lead at 0-1. Sir Meshnik reels in a bomb from CC8G for the hold, and then Brian gets the D and hands it to Kelsman who booms it right back to Brian for the break, 2-1 dags. Stifling defensive play by the Hoguys forces an antsy Simon Capulet to bomb an impressively flawless backhand to Nick or Julien or something probably, 3-3. Defense forces multiple turns on The CUT, but has trouble converting, CUT holds for a few. Finally, Bry guy decides it's time for a break and loops around to Coolidge for the first of a series of breaks, taking us to 7-4 halftime, including a silence-inducing ZOLO layout D on a mustachioed Nick Stuart. Broken out of half, we answer with Hart to Mr. Mesh for 8-5, only to have Simon rip one to Nick, classic. JO’s first step gives him at least 3 more of separation, Meshnik dials in and goes deep for the score 9-6. Lion Fart Jams it right up that Jam hole to Kels 10-7. Carleton totally cheats and sends a handler deep, not fair! Who would even see that coming? Is there no end to their shenanigans?? Well SAAAAM gets a nice looking D and Mesh puts it in his chest for bookends…sitting at 11-8. A couple SNAFUs give Carleton a couple and they come within one at 11-10. We answer with calm, cool, and collected offense, work it up and Brian goes to Mesh in the endzone. Jan the Man eats up some floater swill and the D line works it up, with T breaking to Z and Z goes to Shane who gratuitously lays out for the score and game! 13-10 Hotdogs!
Holy wow! If you’re counting up til now, that’s 7-0. For our hard work we’re rewarded a bye into semis, which doesn’t start until 11am. Gads leave the fields at like 8:20p to refuel, ice bath, and get some rest. This tournament has probably yielded the most sleep the Hodags have every seen, never having to wake up before 8:30 am. Even though we clinched the number 1 seed into bracket play, whatever dinkus put the tournament together had us playing the winner of Pitt/Florida in Semis, no matter, we ain’t scured. The match starts with a double-break, 2-0 with the help of Danny squirreling all over them and Cewlidge layout D grabbing a handler dump then giving it to that homeless guy in a Hodag jersey, oh wait no, sorry, that was Sunde. They finally punch one in, only to have Kelsen boom-headshot Jordan in the back of the endzone. Pitt jams it up the line over and over again, and we don’t adjust. Brihart shows everyone an absolutely nasty push pass to CC in the endzone, 6-4 dags. Unfortunately Pitt breaks a few winds and ties us at 6-6. Thankfully Brian can get endzone stand layout Ds on command and saves the O-line from another break. Hodor gets it and bombs one to Kelsen, finally holding and stopping the bleeding. We trade to half at 8-7, up one break, if my math checks out. More trading leads us to 10-9. The defense huddles to try and smooth out some kinks, something must have worked and we break 11-9. Another squirrely break, Pitt hold, and a Meshnik shoulder cannon to Sam for 13-10 lead, along with another break 14-10. Hodags coast into finals at a solid 15-11 win over Pittsburgh. Graeme's happy.
Alright, so we made it to finals. The team is electric, we’re all riding this momentum that’s been building since Friday. After we steamrolled Texas on Fri, it doesn’t seem like a worthy finals matchup, we'll see. Again, double break-sauce puts us up 2-nil on Texas. We trade until 4-3, Driscoll not playing how we expected. Texas utilizes, instead, a smaller cutter that looks like a mini lightning-fast Kid Rock, who gets unders on us at will and goes deep just when we think we’ve got him figured out. Brain Hart shoves it in Texas’s face with a handler Callahan, 5-3 dags. Sterling starts to make a name for himself and we have him guard Kid Rock. KR goes deep, with at least 3 steps on a young, newblet Sterling. The pass floats, everyone holds their breath as Sterling closes in, this is going to be sweet. Sterling takes flight and tips the disc. In an extremely lucky turn of events, the disc wobbles and falls back into KR’s hands. “I’m not even mad!” is all anyone can say, as it’s clear Sterling’s going to be a defensive asset as the season progresses. We trade until half 8-5, boring. Out of half we make a couple silly mistakes, doinks, poop-aways, our fault, 8-7. More trading, Texas tries to use their giants to zone our offense, we do some shredding and trade to 11-9. Brian puts a questionable one up in the endzone on D and Cletus finds some bubblin’ crude and comes down over two Texas defenders for the break 12-9. More boring trades, with a couple notable pinpoint Brian hammers leads us to 14-12. The offense is up for an easy hold to win, but wait! We turn it over! Oh well, Jordan uses Mimic...it's super effective! And their handler simply can’t get open, forcing a backfield turn. Dayu throws it to CC for the final score 15-12, game, set, tournament.
It’s about freaking time we take down a major tournament, with semis losses galore last year. This tournament shows our early preparedness and desire to win early and often. As long as it doesn’t go to our heads, it’s an excellent indicator of what to expect from the Hodags this year. Ready yourself to be impressed, previous years didn’t have any heads turned until National finals: “Oh, Hodags are in finals?? What???” This year, we’re here to play, and here to win. With that said, Florida was a nice little vacay, but its back to the grind.
lift, 200s, indoor, repeat.
Tanner Marshall- T, Tan, Tanman
Ben Rehmann – Brainman, Rainy
Colin Sunde – Cletus
Jordan O’Neill – JO
Peter – Peeta
Dayu – Dayshoe
Tom Coolidge – Cooldawg, Cewlidge
Craig Cox – Aggro-Craig, Hodor
Kelsen – Kelsman
Brian Hart – Lion Fart, Bry guy
Nick Zeman – Z, ZOLO
Jan Szmanda – Janet
Sam Loveland – SAAAAM
Danny - Squirrel