This weekend, Akron University will host their 7th Annual Pink Out tournament. This year looks to be a special tournament, with 11 teams in attendance from the Ohio, Michigan, and East Coast regions – we hope to learn a lot about these teams. It is also worth noting that half of these teams are ranked in the top 10 in the latest Power Rankings. This will be a prime opportunity for each of these teams to prove their worth and gain valuable on-court experience. We asked each of these teams to tell us about their biggest leaders, rookies, expectations, strengths, and more. Check it out!
GVSU’s biggest leaders on the court are their captains, but they consider everyone a leader because they communicate well and know how to pick each other up. Eli Walcott, Jaymen Gutierrez, and Mason Smith will be on the starting 12 roster – all playing in the middle. Eli will be playing directly in the center, Jaymen will be playing more towards the left side, and Mason will be playing more towards the right side. All three have improved so much since the last tournament, so keep an eye out! GVSU’s expectations for the day are to go 3-0. No surprise.
The Lakers are excited for all three games, but they are most excited for the matchup against Ohio State. They haven’t played them in a while and they are one of the top teams in the Ohio region. GVSU’s biggest strength as a team is playing GV Dodgeball: Transition, transition, transition… and making a lot of catches. They’ve made some changes since the last tournament – making less mistakes and playing their game. The rookies know the game a lot better too; their earlier tournament was a stepping stone into Pink Out that garnered more experience.
Ohio’s biggest leaders on the court are Caleb Arnold and Alex Jonauskas – they lead the team through confident and controlled play. Terence Checkett leads the team vocally making calls. Logan Neff and Keaton Linebrink have seen significant jumps in their playing time and effectiveness; they will be on the starting 12 roster. Ohio’s expectation is to go 3-0 at Pink Out.
Ohio loves a good Ohio-region rivalry, but they are most excited to see JMU since most players have never seen them. Their biggest strength is versatility. Ohio can play conservatively and wear opponents down through consistent catching or they can flip the switch and run down opponents with countless strong throws. Ohio has no big changes going into Pink Out, but they will be missing Daniel Van Fleet, one of their better all-around players.
JMU’s biggest leaders on the court are Trent Shaffer, James Turner, Andrew Luzik, and Nick Spear. Rookie Joel Froyen will be joining the starting 12 roster. JMU’s expectation is “always to win.”
JMU is most excited to play Grand Valley. Their biggest strength is their athleticism and arm power. No major changes have happened since the last tournament.
PSU’s biggest leaders on the court are Co-Captain Zach Eck, Cloud Tapia Manon, and Captain Mason Blanchard. Rookies joining the starting 12 include Marty Gold, Evan Hetrick, and Jakob Leonard. PSU has high expectations for the Pink Out – largely to bring well-deserved respect to East Coast dodgeball teams and to prove PSU is worthy of a number one overall rank.
PSU is excited to play Grand Valley since they are currently taking PSU’s rightful spot at number one. PSU’s strengths include team chemistry, adaptability, and grit. They’ve added new rookies that are excited to get on the court who were absent in their last tournament.
UC’s biggest leaders on the team are captains Cory Heitmann, Ryan Engelman, and Isaiah Montgomery. While some of them aren’t vocal on the court, they help set up team throws and talk strategy. Other notable leaders include Brett Liming, Jacob Weber, Matt Rosinski, and Kevin Skiba. This helps the Bearcats lead when captains are out and other reliable players can step up and keep the momentum going. There are a few notable rookies that have cracked into the starting 12 roster. Will Hyatt is a well-rounded player; he has a strong arm, great game sense, can catch, and he should not be overlooked. Tyler Shaffer is another rookie being worked into team throws and transition plays. Finally, Robbie Mitchell is well-rounded with great catching ability and a good understanding of the game. UC expects going undefeated even though all of the games will likely be close. Their first game against PSU will be exciting. Their second game against Miami will be a great opportunity to get younger players experience. Their final game against Ohio should be very interesting – they’ve only played them once this year, and based on their performance against other teams, they’re seeking revenge!
The Bearcats are most excited to play PSU; the team has never played them before. It looks like PSU is one of those teams that everyone wants to beat this year. With how dominant they have been against the East Coast teams, the Bearcats want to see if they are a real threat or if they just have the talent level over the rest of the East Coast and that’s it. The biggest strength UC has is their transition game. They are quick off the baseline and always looking for stragglers to pick off. Most teams aren’t able to keep up with UC’s pace, and that gives them an edge. The Bearcats have a few changes to the game plan, but their big one will be shifting Heitmann to the left side of the court. With Brannon McGinn unable to attend, they need someone with a reliable arm to hold down the left side.
Ohio State’s biggest leaders on the court are Ethan Lehmkuhl, Elijah Thomas, and Evan Utterback. Rookies joining the starting 12 roster include Nick Kemer, Alden Prohaska, and Will Bryan. For the Buckeyes’ first match, they expect to be able to compete with GVSU and force a close match. They are a hard team to defeat, so OSU will have to play perfect to pull off the upset – it’s a tough task, but not an impossible one. In the second match against Akron-B, OSU expects to beat them and use it as a time to get everyone playing time and make improvements. For the Buckeyes’ final game against BGSU, they expect to beat them, but they will have to play well and avoid throwing catches.
OSU is most excited for the matchup against GVSU because, “to be the best, you have to beat the best.” The team has goals of competing for a National Championship, so this match will show where they stand in terms of their goals. It will also help determine some of their strengths and things to work on. The Buckeyes’ biggest strength is the throwers. They can trust a lot of the team to make an accurate throw during a counter, wall ball, or reset throw. They believe they have more arm depth than ever making it hard for an opposing team to figure out who is throwing. As a super young team, OSU feels that they are improving a lot every week; players are gaining more experience and have time to learn strategy. They feel they will come out playing smarter and with more skill compared to even just two weeks ago at the Kentucky Invitational.
Akron’s biggest leaders on the court are the captains, Clay Egleston, PJ Antalek, Matt Young, and Cooper Sites. They all know the strategy and rhythm of the team to keep everyone in the game. With countless minutes of dodgeball between them, Akron has some of the wisest leaders in the league. Their standout rookie, Kyle VonScio, will join the starting 12. He developed a pinch throw early on and continues to improve. The southpaw has been a student of the game and loves the intensity. Akron has three tough matches against opponents who have proven themselves this year. They expect all games to be high stakes with close scores. With so many teams attending, they are excited to see all of the other matchups as well. It’s always a good time playing with new teams. It also goes without saying that the women’s match will be a blast.
The Zips are most excited for their match against JMU. They haven’t played them since the PSU tournament during the 2018-2019 season with a hard fought game. Akron’s biggest strength as a team is their catching ability – claiming to be the “best catching team in the NCDA.” The main change coming into Pink Out will be chemistry and experience between players. They know how they want to play and hopefully it benefits them. They practice with different team combinations to build chemistry. They’ve also played the most matches in the NCDA this season, so they hope this will give them an edge as well.
BGSU’s biggest leaders on the court are Captain Joey Irwin, Evan Brown, and Easton Huffman, but there are numerous returners who know how to lead on the floor when needed. Rookie Dalton Curran has put in a ton of effort to make the starting 12 roster. BGSU expects to go out there and prove that they can compete and win.
The Falcons are most looking forward to playing Akron since they’ve had so many close matches with them in past years and even earlier this season. They’re also excited to play OSU. BGSU’s biggest strengths would be throwing with the power and accuracy that come with it. Coming into Pink Out, they expect to catch more than anyone has seen this year. The biggest change coming into this weekend is they’ve focused a lot on catching, and they hope to prove that come game time.
Aside from the captains, Katie and Connor, the two voices who have really stepped up for the team are Max Edling and John Rick. This season, both have helped lead the throwers up at the line, they’re committed during practices, and they’ve made some awesome plays this season. Philip Hampton will be joining the starting 12 roster. He’s shown massive improvement since his first tournament in September. He’s one of their more aggressive throwers, but can make a catch when he needs to. As for expectations, Miami wants some wins! With each tournament, they’ve seen some major improvements from our team. Now that they’ve got some wins under their belts, they have a little bit more confidence and they’re excited to see where it takes them at Pink Out.
The RedHawks are most excited for their matchup against Kent. They’ve played UC and CSU before, so they’ve been able to prepare for both of those games. Kent is a new team for them, and it’s awesome to see their team start back up again after COVID. Miami really appreciates the value of different roles. They have some really strong throwers who take control while on offense, but they also have some players who they trust to make a catch in a tough situation on defense. They aren’t just focused on one skill. The RedHawks will have a slightly different roster this weekend, so they will see how that changes the dynamic at all. They’ve recognized some of the mistakes made at OU, and have worked during their practices to make some adjustments.
Kent’s biggest leaders on the court are Vanessa Hudson (#12) and Nathan Keller (#6). Everyone except Hudson, Keller, and Spencer Murphy are rookies. Kent expects to play really well seeing that they will be playing teams that are more on their level of play. Kent hopes this serves as a confidence booster to the teams’ morale.
Kent is excited for the matchups against CSU and Miami seeing as they have not played them yet this season. The team’s biggest strength this season will be more catching than anything – just got to show it on Saturday. Kent will have a full 12-person roster, and one of their rising stars, Mitchell Porter, will be in attendance. They are so excited for him to be able to get out there and show the league how he can contribute.
Sky Thornsberry and William McCartney have been proving themselves to be huge voices for CSU on the court. Communication is becoming a huge part of CSU’s game, and these two are leading the charge. Jostein Sagnes and Jordan Jones serve to push the offensive tempo to keep the team moving at a fast pace in transition. Alex Costello, Nathan Noble, and Kyle Yates are three rookies who have found themselves in the CSU starting 12 roster. Each has picked up the game at lightning speed and shown huge development in their skill since their first time stepping on the court. Facing BGSU, Kent, and Miami, CSU’s expectation is to go 3-0 or a hard fought 2-1. Nonetheless, the team has been picking up the pieces at practice and are ready to exceed expectations.
The Vikings are most excited for their matchup against BGSU. This will be the first time playing them this year following a slight rivalry that began to develop last year. Can’t wait to see how that plays out. The team’s biggest strength is their ability to make plays out of the neutral zone. The best catches and kills come out of the thick of transition play and it is huge for momentum. Since the last tournament, they’ve had plenty of changes. Look forward to seeing a CSU that runs like a well-oiled machine – that once going, can’t be stopped.