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Friday, Dec 1, 2023

Middlebury's frisbee B-Team makes history, advances to Division I Regionals

<p>The ultimate frisbee B-Team poses at their tournament this past weekend at UMass Amherst</p>

The ultimate frisbee B-Team poses at their tournament this past weekend at UMass Amherst

The Middlebury open division ultimate frisbee teams competed in their sectionals tournaments this past weekend. The top team, who call themselves “the Pranksters,” went 2–2 at the North New England Division III Sectionals, giving them a bid to New England Division III Regionals. However, more notably, the B-Team, also known as “the Branksters,” finished in second place at the Greater New England Developmental Conference tournament, giving them an unexpected bid to New England Division I Regionals.

In this surprising twist, Middlebury’s B-Team will now be competing at a more difficult tournament than the school’s A-Team. The Branksters are now the first Middlebury frisbee team to ever compete at Division I regionals. The success of the both teams is a testament to the strong frisbee program that the school has developed.

Originally, the Branksters planned to compete at the same tournament that the A-Team competed at this weekend, giving them the opportunity to get a bid to DIII Regionals. However, USA Ultimate, the governing body for frisbee, forced the Branksters to compete at the New England Developmental Conference Tournament against DI school’s B-Teams, competition that the Branksters perceived as tougher.

“We had to go to Amherst to go play at this tournament and it was against all DI opponents, which we assumed was going to be really hard and that we were going to get kind of destroyed by the top teams there,” said Nate Belman ’25.5, a member of the Branksters.

However, despite the harder competition, the Branksters had a potential chance to qualify for DI Regionals if they placed in the top two teams at the tournament. The Branksters did exactly that, going 4–2 at the tournament which was good enough to give them second place in the tournament and a bid to DI Regionals.

The Branksters beat the University of Massachusetts Amherst B-Team 9–8, the University of Vermont B-Team 12–10 and the Brown University B-Team 10–3. All three schools are part of strong DI programs that are nationally ranked highly.

The team’s performance against Brown’s B-Team was especially impressive. On a cold, rainy Sunday, the Branksters needed to beat Brown to advance to DI Regionals. Middlebury played a zone defense against Brown, forcing them to make extra throws. In the wet conditions, Brown could not complete these extra throws, allowing the Branksters to dominate.

During the tournament, the team saw impressive performances from Max Chalfin-Jacobs ’25, Sam Millay ’26.5 and Thomas Walsh ’24.5 to push them past their tough opponents.

The Branksters will compete at Division-I New England Regionals in Portland, Maine on May 6–7. There, the team will face tough opponents as they try to qualify for DI nationals, but they are confident that it will be a good experience regardless.

“There’s gonna be 16 teams there, and I think we could win a couple of the games,” said Belman. “But there are also five teams that are top 20 in the country, and we would get absolutely obliterated by them.”