For months the Flying Horsecows have trained, have sweat, have waited. All those sprints, those drills, those agonizing defeats led up to one glorious weekend in Champaign, Ill. That weekend, last weekend, the 'Cows flew as high as their wings have carried them, and as a reward will get to fly higher. One mile higher, actually, to College Nationals in Boulder, Colo. at the end of May.
In the peak performance of their season thus far, the Horsecows went 4-1 at Great Lakes Regionals to secure a spot in the 16-team College Nationals tournament May 28-30.They sealed their fate with a 15-8 win over the University of Dayton on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The 'Cows came into the tournament seeded third in the region behind Michigan and Illinois, and riding a six-game winning streak from the previous weekend's East Plains Sectionals. Oberlin got underway Saturday morning against a very underrated 13th seed in the University of Indiana. Though the game was tight at first, the 'Cows were able to iron out the kinks and pull away for an easy 15-8 victory.
That put Oberlin into the quarterfinals against sectional rival University of Dayton. After several exchanges of points, Oberlin began to dominate, taking half and a 13-6 lead. As has happened in many games where the 'Cows have held big leads, they let up just enough to let Dayton bring the score to 14-12 before putting them away 15-12.
The win against Dayton put the Horsecows in the regional semifinals against host Illinois. Oberlin had played the Men from Mars once before, also in a semifinal game. That game was back in February at Artctic Vogue, and was a game that Illinois won, and a loss that sent the 'Cows into a downward spiral. So there was more on the line than just a spot in the finals - Oberlin had revenge on their minds. As expected, it was an epic battle from the outset, with neither team leading by more than a few points at any time. But Illinois took the lead several times, including taking the contest to game point at 14-13. But in some of the most spirited play of the year, Oberlin pulled back even, and then scored two more to take the game 16-14.
The victory put the 'Cows in the tournament finals against Michigan, who had beaten Oberlin 15-6 in the fall at their tournament in Ann Arbor. Magnum, ranked 18th nationally before the tournament, came out very strong by taking a 5-1 lead quickly. Though Oberlin stayed in the game, Michigan rolled to a 15-5 victory and the first of two spots at Nationals. Since the tournament was double-elimination, the second spot was to be determined by a game between Oberlin and the winner of the backdoor bracket (teams who had lost earlier). That team, as it turned out, was Dayton, who had beaten Ohio University to advance to the backdoor finals.
Oberlin came out a little tired and tense in the Dayton game, and Dayton sent several hucks successfully to the end zone, grabbing a 6-3 lead. It was then that the 'Cows decided just how badly they wanted to go to Nationals. Oberlin rattled off five straight points, steamrolling Dayton to half 8-6, with sophomore Jamie Merchant putting a huck to wide-open OC '98 Jim Woodroffe.
They scored the first point after half to go up 9-6, and Dayton summoned one last push to bring the game to 9-7. However, they scored only once more in the game, as Oberlin ran on adrenaline to a 15-8 victory, with sophomore Josh Adler connecting on a huck with first-year Adam Marvel for the winning score.
The tournament was a culmination of the season in so many ways. Nearly every player did best what it was that they did best.
Senior handlers Sandy Bilus and Scott Houghtaling established both a consistent in-cut game and an at times explosive long game, with junior Todd Daloz, sophomores Adam Zucker and Kristian Whitsett and first-year Marvel providing long targets.
Senior co-captain Ben Grubb played phenomenal defense, nary a game without multiple point blocks and layout defenses.
And so, as the sun sets on this school year, Oberlin's favored equibovines have not only the completion of another school year to look forward to, but the chance to sup at the table of champions atop the Olympus of frisbee.
The 'Cows are going to Nationals.
-Jacob Kramer-Duffield is a member of the ultimate frisbee team
Here we go Horsecows: The 'Cows get pumped at last weekend's Great Lakes Regionals. (photo courtesy Scott Houghtaling)
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 22, April 30, 1999
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