University of Akron (6-3)
Our first match is against Ohio University. They’re an interesting team for us because, frankly, we don’t know much about them. Their roster looks a little different than it did two years ago so it’ll be interesting to see what they are capable of coming into the spring semester.
Our second match is against the Cincinnati Bearcats. We have played them twice this year, and came up short in both. There are a lot of players to mention on their loaded roster, but I’ll say one name: we should watch out for Jacob Weber since he’s a former Zip. This is definitely the match we have marked down as one to watch out for.
The last match is BGSU. The Falcons players we are most looking out for are Gabe Carrington and Cole Wilson. We did beat them earlier this season at the Pink Out, but their young roster has improved tremendously since then. Their massive rookie class could be dangerous to the region for years to come.
Overall, the keys to victory are the same for every match: play our game and communicate. Similar to BGSU, our large rookie class boasts a lot of players to keep an eye out for. Cooper Sites has showed tremendous improvement since his first tournament. He understands the game very well and is a true team player. He is always up on the front lines blocking and making throws when needed. He has developed a love for dodgeball so I don’t think you’ll find a more competitive rookie in the league. Alexis Schultz is another rookie to watch out for. She learned the game quickly and is dangerous with a ball in hand. She can counter opposing players with ease or pick you off on the back line. You have to keep your head on a swivel when she’s on the court. Other key rookies are Logan Sims, Bradley Fischbach, and, of course, the Dodgettes.
Akron has a single ODC title in their existence in the NCDA. Winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup this season would mean a lot since it’s been a long time since our victory. None of our current players were on the team back then. The Ohio region has grown a lot since 2016, so being able to call ourselves champions would be a great accomplishment with all the competition in our region. Coming back with the title would make some noise around Akron’s club sports community which could allow our club to grow in the future. Lastly, and most importantly, we would have bragging rights over every other Ohio team—you cannot put a price tag on that.
Bowling Green State University (7-2)
The Ohio Dodgeball Cup is hosted here in Bowling Green, Ohio and we cannot be more excited. For each match we know in mind what we need to do but seeing it play, and not getting caught playing a pace that the opposing team is more comfortable with is going to be the key to our success Saturday.
First up we play Cincinnati. This will be our first time playing them this season, but watching them a few times this year we know that their lineup is solid. Obviously we have to watch out for Jacob Weber and Brett Liming as we know they’re always ready to play and have great court awareness. We feel like we are wearing the shoes that UC was a couple years ago, where they had a bunch of young talent and could surprise any team depending on how they played. With that being said, I know our team is going to put up a great match and it should be exciting to see the outcome.
Our second match is against Ohio State, and this one we really want bad. The first time we played them this year we took them to overtime and losing was a tough pill to swallow, especially knowing that we came back down from a 4-2 deficit to tie it up. We know what we have to do to win this game, but we gotta perform a little better than we did when we played them at the John Betters’ Bobcat Bonanza. Just like against UC, we know Dylan Greer is gonna catch just about anything he sees. Similarly, we know Sam Palumbo is going to throw heaters but we know we can adapt to that and come out on top if we stick to our game.
After our break we have Akron, and similar to OSU, we want this one too. We played them at Akron’s Pink Out, our first tournament of the season, and we got smoked. A lot had to do with how well Akron was playing and how bad our ball possession was the whole tournament. Given the fact that we had 14 freshman at that tournament, we definitely expected some rough patches. Now we have experience, we know what we need to do, and we know we can beat this team. Clay Egleston is a great player and our team knows that. We’re ready to get revenge from last semester.
Our fourth match of the day is against the Ohio Bobcats. We haven’t gotten to play OU this year, but one thing for sure is that this team always brings a roster that will play hard and competes. That’s just the way OU has always been. Being the fourth game for us, we’re gonna have to play smart and play with the same energy as we do from the first three, especially if we go 3-0 the first three games. We’re excited to see what comes of this game, and of the day overall.
We have a very young roster this year and that has been the biggest blessing of I could have ever foreseen. This team is going to be National title contenders for years to come because of the hands this team will be in when I (Gabe Carrington) leave. There’s a lot of guys that could come into this tournament and be our MVP. Senior Josh White doesn’t ever get enough credit for what he does on the court; no matter who is throwing at this guy, he’s going to catch the ball, so expect that again this tournament. Some young guys that should be on the all rookie team at the end of the season in my opinion are Evan Brown, Tyler Webb, and Camen Cline. Evan, Tyler, and Camen have great arms and are tough outs because of how well they can already catch. Add to the list the slew of catching rookies we have in Nate Mercier, Josh Boyers, and Logan Gerardot, whose catching ability is insane, we have great potential as a strong program going forward. All these guys have a shot to be the rookie of the year as well as Riley Brady and Evan Maynard, who have been doing amazing in the more recent tournaments. That’s what you get with BG, and I cannot wait to showcase our young talent on a big stage.
Winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup my freshman year meant a lot because it was on our home court and we were big underdogs. The same thing is happening this year which makes us want it even more. I know our guys want it, but to me, it would be amazing to be ODC champs my last semester in the league. We know what we have to do, and we can’t wait for Saturday.
University of Cincinnati (8-2)
The Cincinnati Bearcats are heading into the Ohio Dodgeball Cup after only being able to hold 3 practices so far this semester (Thanks, COVID). The Bearcats are hungry and ready to fight to bring home the Ohio Dodgeball Cup, but we know there is a long and difficult path to bringing home the trophy on Saturday as we are scheduled to play Bowling Green State, Akron, and Ohio State.
This will be the first time this season the Bearcats take on BGSU, and they only have a couple of the main contributors from their 2019/20 season, where we last faced BG. Gabe Carrington and Cole Wilson will be a heavy focus of ours, as they can catch any ball that comes their way and Cole has a very strong arm in particular. Our goal is to get them off the court as soon as we can. Hopefully our fast-paced offense will be able to overcome the impressive catching abilities of BGSU.
UC has faced Akron twice this season both ultimately being lopsided victories for the Bearcats. Akron does have a lot of young and up-and-coming talent that has been waiting for their shot to show it, but this is not their year in terms of taking home the Cup. With that said, Caption Clay Egleston and PJ Antalek both have incredibly accurate and deadly arms and will have a lot to say about things. UC must come out strong and play like we have in our previous matchups. Our biggest key to success in this match, much like against BGSU, will be to make well placed throws and not give Akron too many chances to bring players back onto the court. If we can accomplish that, we will move to 3-0 against Akron this season.
Finally, our last scheduled match will be against the Buckeyes. We’ve played them twice so far this season, with each team netting a blowout victory. With players on OSU like Ryan Ginsberg and Sam Palumbo with their strong arms and incredible catching ability, they have no problem taking over a game. Ohio State is a very fundamentally sound team where everyone can play any position, and every player looks to drop and catch. For UC to come out of this grudge match vs Ohio State with a win, we will need to play the high-tempo pace that we prefer. Last time, OSU was able to slow things down after the first point and get us caught in a methodical, back and forth game where they dominated ball control and we were relying on catches to keep us in each point. That is not a recipe for success for us as a team, despite being as confident as we are in our ability to make catches in high volume. This will be the match of the day by far, and we’re excited to hopefully come out on the winning end and bring the Cup home.
While it seems like most other teams at this tournament boast massive rookie classes, we are admittedly now pretty junior & senior heavy. Everyone knows about our mainstay players like Cory Heitmann, Matt Rosinski, Brannon McGinn, etc., but we have some incredibly good, young talent to watch for as well. Two players we want to highlight in particular are Luke Grace (Sr.) and Ethan Schlesinger (So.). Both players are phenomenal catchers, and for both, this is their first season of play after a whole season of just practicing, having joined during the pandemic. Luke and Ethan both have made some clutch catches that have helped us win matches last semester, and we expect more of the same from them this weekend.
Winning ODC was a goal, albeit a quite lofty one, for us going into our second year as a team. However, now as the Bearcats head to our 3rd ODC in our 4th season as a team, winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup has become a very realistic expectation, and we expect success this weekend. Winning the Cup this weekend not only legitimizes our program around the league, but it will also mean a ton for our upcoming recruiting prospects. Ask Grand Valley, recruiting becomes a lot easier in the fall when you’ve got a trophy or two sitting on your club’s table.
We are very proud of what we have developed into as a team, and as an overall program. We have something to prove at ODC this year, and that is we are no longer the bottom feeders of the region, but rather the sharks smelling blood in the water. To prove that we are the best team in the Nation we must prove we are the best team in Ohio. We will come out ready to play Saturday afternoon, and ready to take home the hardware.
Ohio University (1-2)
Coming into the season, Ohio University aspired to retain the Ohio Dodgeball Cup and make a push for the national championship. However, with only a handful of returners, it was clear a lack of experience could be the biggest weakness for us. It showed in our home tournament, the first and only one we have competed in. We used the first tournament as a chance to get some experience and work through those first match jitters for our younger guys. Although we did not get the results we were looking for, we were encouraged by our performance. Since then, the team has done a better job defining squad roles, learning the strategy of the game, and developing our overall technique. Overall, we feel like a strong team that could put the league on notice for the second half of the season.
When it comes to specific matchups we are scheduled to play OSU, Akron, and BGSU. We’re very excited to show how much we’ve improved since our home tournament in November, and plan to do so starting with Ohio State. The Buckeyes are a team that caught our eye in particular when we saw the schedule. They were the team that we knocked off in the finals of ODC 2020 and we hope to be able to make it back to back victories.
Lastly, we have played Akron and BGSU in the past but with COVID-19 shaking things up and turning over a lot of players from everybody’s rosters, we know these teams are bringing many new players to the tournament, so we have no idea what to expect.
But what we can expect is our rookies to bounce back and put the league on notice at ODC. Make sure to keep your eye out for rookie Captain Garrett Carbullido who has had an amazing rookie season on and off the court. In addition, we have other new players that we’re very excited for not just for the future, but for the right here, right now in Daniel Van Fleet and Brennan McTighe. In addition to not just having skill, our young players are learning what it truly means to be a Bobcat. It means we make the trip to some random school in Ohio in February and win a CUP! We believe winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup could be the confidence boost our young team needs to compete at nationals. The path to the Ohio Dodgeball Cup always goes through the Bobcats.
Ohio State University (7-2)
Our first match of the day is against Ohio University. Unfortunately, OU has gone into a rebuilding phase, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to take this team lightly. Teams get better throughout the year, especially when the team is young. The key to this game is to just play our game and control the match.
Our second match of the day is against host school Bowling Green State University. We have already played this team once, an OT victory. We underestimated them team the first time considering how many new faces they brought that day, but will be sure to not let that happen again. We have learned from the mistakes we made and will come in with a much more refined strategy. One player we are looking out for is Cole Wilson, he is the best arm that BGSU has, and if we can get him off the court we believe that will help our chances a lot.
Our final match of the day is against UC. We have played this team twice, they dominated a match against us on our home court, and we won the match handily on their home court. This is a 1 vs. 2 matchup according to the current NCDA Power Rankings, and we are ready to prove again why we were ranked #1. The Bearcats have a lot of talent, but 3 players to look out for are Brett Liming, Cory Heitmann and Jacob Weber. They spread themselves out on the court, but if we play our game we know we can limit the effectiveness of them and win the match.
Young players on our roster to look out for are Evan Miller and Elijah Thomas. Evan Miller plays with a lot of confidence for a rookie, which helps him use his strong arm effectively to get key eliminations. Elijah has shown elite court awareness and dodgeball IQ for a rookie. He can place the ball wherever he wants on throws to reset shot clocks and catch any ball that he can get his hands and body on. Watch out for these two to make crucial plays to help us succeed.
The goal for us is simple, 3-0 and an ODC trophy coming back to Columbus. It has been a while since Ohio State has won ODC and it is time for that streak to end. Saturday is the day we believe we will prove we are the number one team in dodgeball. Bringing the Cup home will also help us in the long term with recruiting and retention. Athletes are competitive and want to win, and if we can prove we are a top team in the NCDA, it will help us recruit and retain players even more.
Content Team Member Predictions
As usual, we collected predictions from a number of notable alumni & content team staff. We have differing opinions on how they see things shaking out: