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All-Region 2017: Great Lakes (D-I Men's)

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Who are the best players in the Great Lakes region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.

Jacob “Specs” Fella is the truth.

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I 100% agree with that. I play on ISU and usually have the task of guarding him. Specs is definitely one of the toughest covers for me so far in college.

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Playing with Jack Shannahan day in and day out I see how good he actually is. Shanny is easily one of the best players in the region.

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Yeah Specs should for sure be a 1st-team all-region selection. And I’m not even in this region.

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For all freshmen I have to throw Cal Tortnalleni(sp?) from ISU into the mix. That man is an absoulte monster in basically every aspect of the game and completely deserves the all freshmen nod. Playing for ISU I also have to put Jack Shanahans nomination out there, a complete player thats dedicated to making isu contenders

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Andrew Patel from Northwestern. Excellent throws and has a lot of in-game knowledge.

Well the spell check on his name is Cal Tornabene

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In addition to Specs, Purdue has some other deserving players for consideration.

All-region nominations:
Michael “Koby” Kobyra (#18) has ridiculous pulls, crazy quickness, closing speed and huge hops. Defensive captain who can be the difference maker in every game. Plays nearly every defensive point and switches to O and plays both ways if games get tight. Always takes on the top matchup and is deadly in the give go on a turn.

Joe Byerly (#12) may have the best throws in the region. If you’ve played Purdue and found yourself saying how the heck did he just throw that? And in this wind? You’re probably talking about Joe. Everything from huge hucks, scoobers over a zone, hammers across the field to lefties he has everything in his arsenal. Only a sophomore and has double the touches of everyone else on the team. He is also huge in the air when he plays D.

John Sellers (#29) is a small cutter who can jump out of the gym and comes up with discs that no one else would come close to. Playmaking human highlight reel who always surprises opposing teams and is probably the most athletic player on an athletic Purdue team. Haven’t seen anyone this year that can beat him in a foot race.

All-Freshman nominee:
Aidan Gifford (#27) is a freshman starting o-line handler for Purdue and has been a huge part of an efficient offense. He has the third most touches on the team and is capable of leading a d-line when needed. This kid is going to be special.

Freshman Team Nominations:
As the captain of Illinois State, it is hard for me not to be biased towards my players. But I truly believe that both Cal Tornabene and Jake Kaindl should get the nod for the All Freshman team.

  • Cal is a dominant force in the air, along with high level throws that you don’t see often with freshman. He is “Mr. 50/50” and always seems to come down with every disc that goes up. He was the captain of Chicago YCC his senior year, and always brings the intensity to every game. A true competitor. And a huge addition to an already big ISU D-line.

  • Kaindl is a tall, lanky handler who will break anyone that attempts to mark him. Like Cal, Kaindl brings high quality throws to our team, along with a strong knowledge of the game (a product of Neuqua Valley). Kaindl will tear apart your marks and punish you in the air if he gets the chance. He is also very smart with his height and lankiness, and is not afraid to put hit body on the line. Both are easily All-Freshman team worthy.

Unfortunately I do not know of any other freshman in our region, I’m sure Purdue has some, but I am not sure of their names.

All-Region:
Northwestern:

  • The easy name here is Ben Spielman, a do it all guy who will tear it up with his lefty throws and a force in the air. He is very knowledgeable and will not turn the disc over. Not to mention a Machine player.
  • I’m not sure what his name is, but #10 on Northwestern has very good throws and is a very good defender. Quick and shifty.
  • BK should get the nod, a 5th year player and a true competitor with this team. He brings energy and intensity to every game he plays in.

UChicago:

  • Judah Newman is worthy of an All-region spot, a quality thrower and very annoying player to guard. He is fast and cheeky. He brings energy and leadership to this strong UChi team.
  • Jeffrey Weis has improved so much since last year. After a year of club, and a full fall and spring semester, Wets was very impressive when we played them. He is very dominant in the air, and has a more refined throwing repertoire. Give him more time and experience and he will be even more scary.
  • Jeff Zhao is a fantastic player for this team, very strong throws and excellent knowledge of the game. He will tear you apart with breaks and drop dime hucks, a summer of practicing with Machine really improved his game.
  • Percy Stogdon is a Machine player from our region, he’s a big body and has nice throws. For some reason he just sat out for a big chunk of our game. Not sure if he was hurt or what, but when he came back in for the last 4 points or so he looked like he was moving fine.

Illinois:

  • It’s hard to pick out a single player on this team. They work very well as a unit, especially after losing such a star studded class of seniors.
  • If anyone thinks otherwise, feel free to respond. I’d love to hear some names!

Purdue:

  • First name is obvious, Jake “Specs” Fella. This dude is an animal, He will beat you in the air, and on foot. It’s incredible how agile he if for being so tall. Not to mention that his throws are way above average, especially in windy situations. I don’t notice him making big play on defense (except for skying packs of people) but maybe that’s just because he doesn’t have too.
  • Purdue has this one kid who is an amazing athlete and can jump out the gym. I apologize for not knowing his name, but the kid is an animal and has disrespected our team a couple times in the air. Could someone please tag him so he gets the recognition he deserves?
  • Michael Kobyra is also a very good player for this team. Usually seen on their D line I believe. I have had him guard me a few times and the dude is not easy to get open on. Very explosive and also adds a nice boost to their offensive game on the turn.

Indiana:

  • It seems that whenever we played against Indiana, neither team was playing at full strength. So it’s hard for me to pick anyone out. I do know that they had this kid (who I think said he used to be soccer goalie?) who made some crazy layout grabs.
  • They also had a couple guys with very nice throws.

Notre Dame:

  • Didn’t play or really see Notre Dame play this season.

Michigan:

  • Also didn’t have a chance to see or play against Michigan, but I believe they still have Noah Backer who was raw last year.
  • They also have someone trying out for worlds that isn’t Backer. Someone mind commenting with his name? If he has a worlds tryout, he must be pretty good.

Illinois State:

  • Jeremy Burril is a captain for this team, although he has been battling injuries all season he should definitely be mentioned on this page. Jeremy had to sit out for an entire tournament and other parts of the season, due to a broken ankle and wrist, and hated every moment of it all he wanted was to be back out there. But the thing is that even when he would comeback and be playing through injury he would still dominate on the field. Now imagine if he was healthy… Scary. If he doesn’t get an All-Region spot, you better believe he’s going to put in the work and make it next year. This guy is quick, has club level throws, and is very bouncy.
  • Another name is Joseph Cacciatore. Joe is a transfer student who came to ISU and made an immediate impact. After working hard to get back into game shape, and working through some personal injury, Joe brought a much needed boost to ISU’s O-line with Jeremy out. He has a high ultimate IQ and very high level throws, he also has huge ups!
  • Two more names to mention are Ricky Ramirez and Karl Beck. Ricky is a force on defense, playing very physical and tough. He is the leader of ISU’s D-line and will put his body on the line no matter where the disc is. Karl is a short but very fast and agile handler. He’s very cheeky in the way he plays, but will find a way to break you with any throw he’s got. Not to mention that this dude has crazy scoobers. Check out our HL video and you’ll see one or two.

Thats all I got. If anyone knows some of the names that I didn’t feel free to comment. See you all at regionals!

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Karl Beck, Jack Shannahan, and Jerome’s in the house Burril from ISU if one of them doesn’t at least make second team all-region this year its a snub (for three years straight), a straight up sham. I played with all of them my freshman year in this region as well as 4 years at Neuqua Valley after transferring to a school in the Northwest Region, where any team in that region would be lucky to have any of the three studs. (Jack Shanny is probably about to make Machine)

Judah Newman and Jeff “Wets” Weiss from Uchicago are also studs who are currently playing AUDL seasons as well as leading the Uchicago team at the same time. (I believe Wets has been playing at most 3 years and is already signed to Wildfire)

Every player I just mentioned will make all-region by the time they are seniors. This is my home region where i played for 6 of my 7 Ultimate years, These are the rising stars of the region.

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Freshman Team Nominations:

  • Cal Tornabene (ISU): Cal is a freshman who came to our team as a total package player. He delivers on defense and offense being a threat in any sky-ball situation along with his speed and physicality on the ground. Great throws and great cuts, he is going to have a great college career.

  • Aidan Gifford (Purdue): A freshman who has great throws and makes an impact on Purdue’s O-Line.

All Region Nominations:

  • Jack Shanahan (ISU): Jack is a force to be reckoned with in any situation on the field. He shows how dedicated he is to this sport day in and day out both on and off the field. He is dedicated to make ISU’s program better every day and displays his skills and knowledge on the field both on O-Line and on D-Line. It is clear that he is an immediate impact for this team in game no matter what position he is playing.

  • Jeremy Burill (ISU): Despite nursing some nagging injuries during the season, Jeremy delivered for ISU on the field for O-Line and even D-Line. Jeremy is crazy in game with both quick in cuts and deep cuts, insane throws, and he can get big in the sky.

  • Jacob “Specs” Fella (Purdue): Athletic playmaker who delivers for his team on defense and offense. He is their go-to guy in any game situation and is a major game changer for a talented Purdue team.

  • Michael Kobyra (Purdue): Great defensive player that is difficult to get open on. He is a very athletic defender who can beat you in the sky or outrun you on the ground.

  • Ben Spielman (Northwestern): Playmaker for Northwestern who is no fun to guard when he is on offense. Also their Callahan nominee and player for Machine.

  • Jeff Zhao (UChicago): UChicago’s main handler who can make any throw you need and can make extremely fast cuts up and down the field. He can absolutely destroy any mark put on him.

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The kid on MagnUM trying out for worlds is Jake Steslicki. He played High Five and is a really solid all around player

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The Purdue coach pretty much has it covered, but I’d like to mention Nick “Tuba” Loughran for all-region in addition to the above. Highly consistent O-line cutter with all the throws of a handler. Agile and has huge ups. Has high ultimate IQ and provides veteran leadership. Played Brickyard the last two years, and anyone you talk to will say he embodies Spirit of the Game.

Illinois captain here, I’ll start with my guys:

All-Freshman:
Illinois:
Drake Hill was brought up halfway through the season after we had some injuries. He is 6’ 3", fast, and was able to take match ups against some of the regions better players despite his lack of experience. When we a needed break, he was almost always out there on the line. If a disc went up, he was probably going to come down with it, even against someone who had been playing for years more than him. I’m sure he would be a great match up against any of the other freshman in the region.

All-Region:
Illinois:
Chris Butcha was another one of our captains this year. With a small roster he would handle and cut on both sides of the disc. He is good in the air and a smart defender, and with the disc he plays great possession ultimate. A 4-year veteran of the team, his leadership was huge in developing our core of sophomores that will soon take over. Always brings the energy, always brings the intensity, and he will have a lasting impact on the Illinois program.

Jarred Elliot was always a terror on the field. Everybody in this region hates playing against him for one reason or another. He is very intense. He was always focused on winning his one on one match up, especially in the air, and his drive to win makes him dangerous on both sides of the disc. As a cutter his throws are up to par with most handlers, and he had a ton of assists this past weekend despite the high winds and despite the zones. It is very tough to fill in the role he plays with other players, and he has been a staple of the Illinois offense since 2015. Previous studs on Illinois have overshadowed what he brings to the table, but this year was finally his time to shine and he deserves recognition.

Cody Gray is a graduate student who started playing at Illinois in 2016 after coming from Arkansas. He is the best handler on the team, often throwing 60-70 yard bombs upwind. At Regionals, it was his throws that often allowed us to break cups, whether they were over the top or around he was able to put the disc in somebody’s hands upwind, downwind, and crosswind. He works hard on defense, usually marking up against the other team’s best handler. When the offense was struggling, he was the guy that would play many, many points in a row to boost the offense while still fulfilling his role on defense. He is hard to stop, a smart player, a great leader on and off the field, and absolutely deserves an all-region spot from his performance and work ethic.

Northwestern:
Ben Spielman is the clear choice. Always gave us a tough time whether he was cutting or handling. I’ve always enjoyed how much of a competitor he is.

ISU:
Jack Shanahan for sure. Huge in the air, and clearly has great knowledge of the game based on his cuts and his leadership for ISU. He is definitely one of the best players in the region.

Cameron Powers is just a workhorse. I don’t see him mentioned here at all, but Cam is a solid role player on both sides of the disc. I had the pleasure of playing mixed club with him, and he was the catalyst on offense. I was surprised I didn’t see him with a bigger role on ISU, but he did a fantastic job on defense, and gave my guys one heck of time trying to get open. Great guy off the field and on the field.

Purdue:
Didn’t get to play these guys this year, but from experience I believe Specs and Koby should be getting some recognition. They are the faces of Purdue Ultimate.

Michigan:
Also didn’t get to play these guys but clearly there are a few of them that should be listed. Off the top of my head I know that Noah Backer is very deserving of this recognition.

UChicago:
Judah Newman, Jeff Zhao, and Percy Stogdon are three guys that make you earn every single point.
Judah has fantastic throws, and is a quick and smart player. In my opinion he is their best player.
Jeff is an incredible handler, with good knowledge of the game and extensive use of his skills to break any mark. It’s always difficult to decide who will try their hand at guarding him.
Percy, in my opinion, is fun to watch. He is smart, attacks the disc, not afraid to put his body on the line, and will be two steps ahead of you the second you relax on defense.

As a captain for ISU, I would like to throw my two cents in and make sure the people that deserve credit get it. I will only be talking about people I have played with or against, so I am sorry if I miss any big names.
ISU
Jack Shanahan: You can never say enough about this guys love for the game. He is constantly thinking of ways to improve not only his game, but the program that we are building. He has been a huge part of building this ISU team into what it has become. On the field, he is probably the biggest play maker in the region. His throws are elite, he is terrifying in the air, and will probably owe the man he is guarding an apology letter after he makes them look like a child. If he does not get on this all region team, it will be one of the biggest robberies in history.
Cal Tornabene: This kid is a freak. He should win freshman of the region. He uses his body perfectly in the air, and comes down with just about everything. His hands are like glue, and he is a very good decision maker. It is very rare that he turns the disc over, and he is someone you always want the disc in their hands. He is constantly on universe lines, and is going to be one of the scariest players in this region for the next 3 or 4 years.

U-Chi
Judah: This kid is one of the most underrated players in this region. he plays with so much heart, and is an every other touch kind of guy. His handler motion is incredible, and he has beautiful hucks. Without Judah on the field, Uchi doesnt look quite as good as they should. He also plays lockdown handler defense. Can’t wait to play with this kid all summer. Keep your eyes on wildfire and Beachfront this summer. I am sure he is going to be a huge part of both of those teams.
Jeffery Weise: I have no idea if I spelled his name right, but this kid is a monster. I first met him last summer, and to be quite honest wasn’t all that impressed. By the end of that summer he had changed my mind. He is one of the hardest workers that I have ever met. Before this year, his throws were a liability when he would look up field, but now his throws are what make him such a versatile player. He is huge in the air, and knows how to use that body. He caused mismatches all spring, and made U chicago a very scary team coming into the series. He has only been playing for 2 years, and will be one of the best players in the area within the year. Good work this year.

Purdue
Specs: I mean come on. The dude is huge. Thats all I have to say.
Kobe?: This guy skies everyone. He is huge on defense, and was one of my least favorite players to be guarded by. He was a match up nightmare, and might be the fastest kid in the region. If he doesn’t get the nod, I would be disappointed.
#14: Sorry Don’t know your name, but he kinda came out of nowhere. Very athletic player and a huge role player for purdue.

Illinois
Honestly, this team was scary just because they seemed to work well together. When they were getting along, this was a very scary team. When they fought, they fell apart. #38 on this team probably has the biggest vert I have ever seen.
Northwestern
Spielman This is their guy. He has been one of the best players in the region for years, and nothing has changed. He is still a top player in this region and we all know he deserves a spot on that all region team.

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First off, congrats to MagnUM. They are obviously by far the best of the Great Lakes, and I think the all-region teams should reflect that. That said, we got blown out all three times we played them this season, so I didn’t really get to see much of their top-end players. Noah Backer is an easy choice for first team (and probably POTY as well), but other than him I am pretty clueless about Michigan’s best guys. They should probably have like five dudes between the two all-region teams, though.

As for the non-Michigan contenders:

  • Ben Spielman (NUT) is an animal and pretty much impossible to guard. Also unsurprisingly really good at flip cup.
  • Specs (Purdue) is the best player on a really good team.
  • Jack Shanahan (ISU) is probably the biggest reason Gnomes made it to semis this year.
  • Joe Byerly (Purdue). Kid can throw.
  • Beetle (Notre Dame) - big throws, bigger pulls. Played almost every point against us. I don’t know his real name, though, which might be a problem when it comes time for voting.
  • Percy Stogdon (Chicago): Percy is the type that makes plays when you need them the most.
  • Jeffrey “Wets” Weis (Chicago): Above average at throwing lefty dumps.
  • Judah Newman (Chicago): Probably the second-best Newman to ever captain Chicago.

In all seriousness, though, there is no way we make it to the game to go without any of these guys. Percy was our go-to on the O-line. When he wasn’t beating people deep, he was getting open under and then boosting big flick hucks for easy goals. And whenever we turned it, we could always rely on him to come up with a huge play to get us the disc back. Without Percy, offense becomes a difficult grind and we definitely get broken a lot more. On defense, Wets and Judah ran the show. Wets took on the toughest cutter matchups and Judah did the same for handlers. Wets made a ton of plays for us - he probably got more than 10 D’s in our bracket games. Judah won’t make it to the highlight reel quite as much, but that was mostly because he would just completely erase his guy and prevent him from even getting thrown to. On the turn, they were the primary reasons for our breaks, whether Judah was hucking it deep to Wets or they were dominating in the handler sets together. They are also both absolute workhorses, playing at least 75% of our points at regionals.

For All-Freshman, I’d like to shout out Milan Rivas. He’s not the flashiest player, but he was an extremely reliable reset handler on our O-line. He never turned the disc and was always in the right place at the right time. He was also a rock-solid defender in our zone.

Lastly, Coach of the Year has to go to Zubair Abdulla. He’s built this program from the ground up since he got here eight years ago. Chicago finished 15th at sectionals (!) his first year, and this year we came within one win of making nationals. Zubair plans our practices, keeps us motivated and goal-oriented, makes in-game adjustments, and does a number of intangible things to mold us into the best possible version of ourselves.

My take - MagnUM’s success has been highly dependent on the depth of our roster and I want to shout out some people that have been crucial to our wins this season.

Jake Steslicki, #10 on MagnUM has been huge this year. Offensively and defensively. He deserves first team. U24 tryout as well.
Daniel Lee, #41 on MagnUM is always a downfield threat. Always matches up with other team’s best downfield cutter and is rarely unsuccessful in stopping them. On O or D, he will come down with almost anything.

Other first team dudes - Specs, Spielman, Percy Stogdon, Jack Shanahan

Other shoutouts in the region in no particular order:

Jake Moyer - #17 on MagnUM. Also a lockdown defender on MagnUM. Unbelievable athleticism.
Josh Becker - #87 on MagnUM. Great handler defender and the center of our D line’s offense.
Jeff Zhao - Really unfortunate he got hurt at Regionals. Love the way he plays.
Byerly - #12 on Purdue. Great throws.
Edward Speyer - NUT guy that plays both ways. All around good player.
Kobyra - Purdue guy that can play any position.
Jeffrey Weis

MagnUM did not play everyone, so I am definitely leaving some people out, but these are the people I can speak to.

For FOTY, Raymond Lu on MagnUM. Played almost every O point at QCTU and played both ways throughout the season. Incredible handler defender, has great throws, and a ridiculous work ethic.

For COTY, I have to recommend Tyler Kinley again. I know there are other great coaches in this region, but strategically speaking, TK is the smartest coach. I attribute a lot of MagnUM’s success this year to his coaching and his ability to make in-game adjustments. He truly is deserving of this award again.

Just to back up what other people are saying…

Backer, Spielman, Shanahan, Stogdon, Specs are each next level players for their respective teams, and matchups that we just had to do our best to stifle and not necessarily win. We (ND) didn’t play Magnum this year, but we remember Backer quite well from the last couple years.

I’ll agree with Jeff that Beetleborg (Luke Brennan) should be on that list, too. He was our all-around best player, leading our D-line with huge pulls, smart D, and awesome throws. He has some of the best work ethic on our team and will be captaining next year.

Also up there should be Notre Dame captain Danny Fitzgerald, who despite being possibly our best defensive player was moved to O-line to initiate for the cutters. Super sharp cuts, explosive in the air and on D, and rarely turns the disc over. He was huge for us this year.

ND’s Oliver Hirn should get a mention for FOTY. He played nearly every D point, was always the first one down the field after Beetle’s monster pulls, and he worked experienced handlers to the ground on D. Huge bids, constant intensity. He’ll start getting more attention in the next couple years.

Our coach David Hoffman just finished his third year coaching and is really the main reason for our program’s jump in relevance the last few years. We came up short this year, but regional runner-up the past two years is significant, and Rage’s growth under him has been really visible to anyone who has been paying attention.

Other than that, I think most other names I would think of have been mentioned:
-Kobyra and Byerly from Purdue were both impressive against us.
-Judah Newman and Jeff Zhao are both great handlers for Chicago, though Jeff only played a few points the first time we played them and was injured the second time
-Indiana’s long-haired dude made some huge plays against us (sorry, forgot his name)
-Don’t really know the Magnum guys.

There are a lot of people that could slide into the 2nd team; it’s really those first five I mentioned along with Beetle that have strongly stood out to me.

Here are my Northwestern homer picks first:

Ben Spielman #2 - first team last year, only got better this year.
Elan Kane #15 - Grad student who took Brandeis to the DIII final last year. Sprained his MCL on the last point of sectionals and couldn’t play last weekend. Was an instant rock to our offense with strong hucks and zone IQ
Kyle Rutledge #12 - Played for Plex in Dallas last summer, went from “athletic rookie who is great at defense” to “very capable thrower in the wind at regionals” in one year. Made some huge plays on both offense and defense for NUT this year

Noah Backer (Michigan) - best handler in the region
Alex Russomanno (Michigan) - feel like he never makes a mistake
Josh Becker (Michigan) - had trouble with this matchup in Indy
Jeff Zhou (UChicago) - sucks he got hurt. Has got some sweet throws
Percy Stogdon (UChicago) - when he’s on, it’s really hard to stop him
Jacob Fella (Purdue) - played lights out against us in quarters
Joe Byerly (Purdue) - I was shocked this kid was a sophomore
Jack Shanahan (Illinois State) - I heard ISU doesn’t have a coach so I assume he takes on that role as well. Props to him.
Jacob Scobey (Notre Dame) - great handler, smart deep defender. Hammers are sweet
Luke Brennan (Notre Dame) - @Jeff, this is Beetle. Best pulls from anyone I saw all weekend. Real good athlete
Cody Gray (Illinois) - has huge hucks, was a playmaker against us

All-Freshmen:

Hard to distinguish one from the four Northwestern rookies, but I’ll give my vote to Eric Hochberger #23, who played some big minutes all season and ended up contributing to some important breaks down the stretch.

I’m glad Noah mentioned Raymond Lu (Michigan) because I didn’t know if he was a freshman or sophomore. Seems like he’s really solid behind the disc. Was really confused when watching QCTU footage and saw him on their O line instead of Noah, who I assume was injured

Cal Tornabene (ISU) made some athletic plays against us at sectionals

COTY:

With respect to TK, I’ll be voting for Zubair Abdulla (UChicago). Best finish in program history and they did it without their best thrower on Sunday. Zubair seems to develop talent really well - the top players at UChicago are always really strong

-Edward Speyer, NUT #27

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