For Oberlin's men's and women's Ultimate Frisbee teams, the Flying Horsecows and the Praying Manti, the culmination of their season came after finals and Commencement had come and gone. The 1997 College Nationals were held at the University of California at Davis during the weekend following commencement. The top 10 women's and top 12 men's teams from every corner of the country qualified by beating other teams in their regions. Oberlin's women took second and the men took third out of all of the teams at Central Regionals, which span from Ohio to Colorado, held in Carleton, Minnesota.
Due to finances from co-ops, student groups, the administration, dorms and various campus organizations, the Horsecows and Manti were able to send their teams to and from California to play the other top teams in the nation in the three day best-of-the-best tournament without paying out of their own pockets. Once in California, the first day consisted of stiff competition for both teams in a 95 degree heat, the likes of which most players had only seen on the Weather Channel. This did little to deter Oberlin's teams though, junior Sandy Bilus pointed out, "It's really not that bad, it's a dry heat." First up for the men's team was the University of Madison's Ho-Dags, who placed first in the central region, and during Regionals handed the Horsecows a 17-4 pounding. Nationals didn't fare too much better for Oberlin, they stuck with Wisconsin, and at the half the score was 9-5. The second half saw Madison turn up the heat and the final score was 17-9. The Manti's first game pitted them against the Yale's women's team, and culminated in a 15-7 loss.
The Horsecows' second and final game of the day was against East Carolina University's Irates. The bad blood between the two teams was evident early and often during the game, and the Irates jumped out early, stifling Oberlin's offense and walking away with a 17-5 victory. Meanwhile the women's team was facing another bitter rival from the south, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. In the past, UNCW's women's team have been boycotted in some tournaments due to a lack of general spirit. Against Oberlin, Wilmington proved why they earned their reputation, making numerous bad calls in order to halt the momentum of the Manti's offense. The score at the half was 8-7 and the Manti fought their way to an 8-8 tie, but the UNCW's Seaweed turned on the jets and won the game 15-9.
Oberlin than retreated to the luxurious accommodations provided by parents of west coast team members in the nearby Bay Area to rest and plan out the second, and possibly final day of games. The second day started with the 'Cows third game and best chance at victory as they faced LSU's team. The game was point for point for a while, and LSU had a 5-4 lead before Oberlin decided to go off and score five unanswered points. With a powerful defense and many quick transitions resulting in equally quick goals, Oberlin was able to jump ahead 15-11. During this run came the only controversy of the game, when LSU's sideline contested a catch that Adam Fagin, OC '97 had made. Ultimate has no referees, and each player is entrusted to make their own honest calls. LSU attempted to claim someone on the sideline with a video camera had the catch on tape as being down, which was laughed off by Oberlin. "How the hell could they have seen anything," said senior Tim Learmonth. "Adam's big old butt was in the way of the camera." The throw was ruled a catch, and the game continued with Oberlin getting their first victory, 17-15.
The women had their hands full with Georgia. Georgia's team was focused around one player, who was able to dominate Georgia's offense and was responsible for their scoring. One person can't hold a team, and Oberlin took advantage, winning the game with a final score of 15-9. Last of pool play came Stanford. Stanford was the team who would go on to win the Women's college championships. Oberlin fell quickly to Stanford's Superfly, by a score of 15-1. Their quarterfinal game was against University of British Columbia, the other team who would make it to the finals. Oberlin lost in their final game, by a score of 15-4.
Next on the Horsecows dance card was the University of California Santa Barbara's Black Tide and their small army of players stood in Oberlin's way of another win, and try as they did, Oberlin was trounced by the west coast powerhouse 17-5. The bright spot of the game came from the youngest players, including first-year Paul Pitcher, who scored two of the five points. "My guy kept leaving me open in the end zone to cover someone else," said Pitcher. "It was cool."
The final game of the Horsecow season came against Cornell University's Rockin' Buds. Both teams were strong in spirit but weak in body after two days of play, which resulted in a game filled with unforced errors and turnovers. Oberlin jumped ahead 9-5, but Cornell refused to die and had the legs and throws to finally win the game 19-17, leaving Oberlin's men with a 1-4 Nationals record.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 1, September 5, 1997
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