Who are the best players in the South Central region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.
I’ll kick things off with a player from a smaller team in the region -
Number 5, Elise Franke on Arkansas deserves to be in this conversation. Arkansas qualified for regionals for the first time in a handful of years with a huge amount of help from Elise. She will outrun you at the beginning of the game, play every point, get her achilles stomped on, and still get the game winning D on universe point. Elise takes the hardest match ups in every game and goes toe to toe with them. She is the rock in the back of Arkansas’s zone, a workhorse of a cutter upfield, and this year she’s been unafraid to show off her beautiful flick bombs. Arkansas routinely takes 10 or 12 players to tournaments, so Elise plays the vast majority of points and her play on Sunday afternoon never suffers for it.
In addition to her outstanding quality of play, Elise is also one of the kindest ultimate players you’ll find out there. If these qualifications aren’t enough, please consider the fact that she is also an expert Pokemon Go player. The cherry on top of an impressive campaign.
Here’s who is back this year:
1st Team: Kirstin Johnson (Col), Nhi Nguyen (Col), Clare Frantz (Kan), Dre Esparza (UT)
2nd Team: Kelsey Bennett (Col), Megan Ives (Col), Jordan Alonzo (Kan), Grace Roth (Kan), Kaci Cessna (CSU), Shiru Liu (UT)
10 out of 14 returning, yikes. Not beholden to last year, but it’s at least a good starting point.
Here’s who stood out to me this season:
- Domenica Sutherland (UT)
- Julia Schmaltz (UT)
- Kirstin Johnson (Colorado)
- Shiru Liu (UT)
- Dre Esparza (UT)
- Megan Chavez (Colorado)
- Nhi Nguyen (Colorado)
- Clare Frantz (Kansas)
- Kelsey Akin (Kansas)
- Kaci Cessna (CSU)
Apologies to those I haven’t seen play. I know that’s a lot of the same names, but they are good players who have only gotten better.
Total agreement. This girl is the real deal.
100% absolutely loved playing against her at regionals this weekend. She was an exceptional player and just a wonderfully sweet human being. easy to see why she is so loved and such a wonderful all around player.
Nhi Nguyen (Colorado): Huge in the air, dominate force on both sides of the disc
Kelsey Bennett (Colorado): Person who Kali’s offense runs through. Her IO flick cannot be stopped even if you adjust your mark
Megan Ives (Colorado): Played a lot both ways in finals of Regionals, taking a very difficult match-up and coming out ahead.
Jean Russell (Colorado): Most consistent handler for Kali, always getting open for the reset and attacks zone defense with creative throws
Kiera Lindgren (CSU): Speedy player who can run the offense from anywhere on the field and can take the hardest matchup on the opposing team and not even let it phase her
Marlee Akerson (Colorado College): If you were at regionals and watched CC play at all, you had to have noticed Marlee. First off she is one of their most dominate forces and she dominated regionals with a broken pinky, wearing a cast that immobilized her wrist. Seriously impressive.
Corey Baron (Colorado College): Center Handler for CC or initiating the pull play. Phenomenal break throws.
Frances Gellert (Colorado College): Center handler who seems rather unphased by anything. I remember one specific point from Conference Championships where we (Kali) came down in a zone, Frances got the disc, and threw the most perfect huck as though no one was even standing in front of her.
Dre Esparza (Texas): Initiates their pull play every time and is the person they are always trying to reset the disc too. True definition of the center of the offense
Shiru Liu (Texas): Mark going hard no around-backhand? No problem for Shiru
Julia Schmaltz (Texas): Next look in pull play after Dre. Always cutting and is the bailout look come high stalls and she can usually come down with it.
Didn’t really get to see these players play, but can attest from previous years that they are dominate forces for their team
Clare Frantz (Kansas)
Kelsey Akin (Kansas)
Grace Roth (Kansas)
While Washington University in St. Louis WUWU isn’t nationals bound this year, and typically doesn’t see a lot of South Central coverage during the season, they did finish at #4 out of regionals this year with a big win over Kansas. Captain Nora Shevick was a huge part of WUWU’s regionals success this year. Nora epitomizes the saying “puts the team on her back”. WUWU as a team heavily relies on her to work the disc upwind in a zone, to earn her opponent’s respect for her deep game, to get open when no one else can, and to come up with huge Ds when the pressure is on. Nora is an equally talented handler as she is cutter. Capable of filling any role on the field in any situation, she is a true chameleon in this sport. With defensive bids, hucks and breaks that would make any elite club team say “god damn!”, Nora plays hard but humble (to quote teammate Lil Syl). From the first pull to the last point scored, Nora racks up shut down D’s and bids on the opposing team’s best player, snatches up tough grabs in traffic, hits the ground countless times, and still puts up big shots with expert touch. In a strong region with so many admirable players already mentioned in this thread, Nora is a standout player and person.
Disclosure I play for UT Melee and unfortunately we did not cross paths with many in our region this year but here is what I saw from regionals.
Shiru Liu: She is our Callahan nominee for a reason. She is a work horse and one of the most consistent people on the field for us. Her backhand breaks are just ridiculous and that doesnt even compare to the hucks that she has in her back pocket at all times.
Dre Esparza: One of the best all around hybrids on our team. She is fast as hell and can throw a dime without a second thought.
Julia Schmaltz: dominant on both sides of the disc for Melee. She seems to catch just about anything you can throw to her and is never satisfied with being just average. she is consistently getting better and challenging herself to improve with every practice and game.
Laura Gerencser: back hand break for days. the girl is long and uses her height and step out for all it will give her. consistency may be an understatement. she is just that good.
KJ: dominant force of nature when she is on the field. she seems to be doing everything all at once for her team during some of the points she is on.
Nhi Nguyen: one of the nicest people. she is quick and consistent and a fantastic defender.
Megan Ives: she seems to just run forever. She is a rock solid defender and gets the job done on O.
Clare Frantz: seems to be the one that everything is run through on this team. she is a threat in the air and a consistent force on what seems to be both the O and D lines
Grace Roth: go to cutter. she is quick and makes crazy plays to keep the disc alive. she is a true workhorse
Robin Fassett-Carman: I can see why she is their callahan nominee. she is quick and tall and just gets the job done everywhere on the field. her flick is deadly and always seems to get it off with almost no effort no matter what the mark is trying to do
Frances Gellert: easily the nicest person i have ever played against. and on top of that she is just a deadly handler. she is super quick and her inside flick will break the mark almost every time.
I have to shout out our head coach Edith Teng. It seems like this woman does absolutely everything she can and more for the Austin ultimate community. She not only is our head coach this season but she is also the head coach of the Austin Sol and captain of Texas Showdown, which are both ridiculous time commitments and require so much focus and energy. Yet she is still putting 110% into Melee every week at practice. I contribute our consistency and just all around efficiency to this woman. She is the heart and soul of our team and I would not be the player I am today if it was not for her.