BEAST XI Results and Recap

Below are the Results from BEAST XI hosted by JMU on 1/28/2023

This is the first BEAST tournament we’ve seen in years with numerous teams outside the East region, and needless to say, it did not disappoint. We saw upsets, blow-outs, young stars having break out performances, and a rowdy fan atmosphere few tournaments can match. Lets start our team by team breakdown from the top with the best performances we saw in the first tournament of 2023.

3-0 with wins over JMU, GVSU, and UVA

After a disappointing showing at their last major tournament (Akron’s Pink Out VII in November), Penn State vaulted themselves back into the title contender conversation with an impressive showing to kick off the spring semester. Both the 6-3 win over JMU and 3-2 win over GVSU are results which put the league on notice. Anyone who’s watched this group this year has seen the fire they play with and their ability to knock off anyone when they’re on. Hunter Stewart came out at this tournament showing why he should be on the All American list at the end of this year with crazy catches while also locking down the right corner throwing-wise. Players like Zach Eck and Cloud Tapia-Manon provide not only strong play on the court, but a fire which can rattle the opposition. To add, this team’s supporting cast really stepped up to provide some all-around solid performances. With that being said, we saw similar showings at the beginning of last semester. Can the Nittany Lions keep this momentum up through Akron’s WAR VI in March and into Nationals? Only time will tell.

2-1 with wins over UC and Ohio, losing to PSU

The Dukes played well all-around in front of huge home crowd in Harrisonburg. JMU is deep and experienced which showed in their composure in the comeback 5-2 win over Ohio and overtime victory over Cincinnati. Although things got a little bit intense between the Dukes and their opponents during the day, they were able to limit big mistakes and play their brand of dodgeball. James Madison showed once again that they have no ceiling on their potential this season. For a team that was controversially inches from the National Title game last year, this time around it’s championship or bust. It’s pretty crowded at the top this year, but on JMU’s best day, they can beat anyone. One thing to note was how much the supporting cast of this team stepped up in this tournament. Rookies Nick Foss and Noah Conyers put the league on notice, while players such as Jason Ball and James (JT) Turner are no longer flying under the radar on scouting reports. JMU is a squad that could have a handful of All Americans at the end of the year, so be on the lookout for this team come Nationals.

2-1 with wins over GVSU and UMD, losing in OT to JMU

Cincinnati is another deep, veteran club who put together a strong showing at the BEAST. The Bearcats came out on-point to start the day with dominant wins over Maryland and Grand Valley. Despite falling in OT to James Madison, this was a good step in the right direction towards this squad’s goals for this year. They are another team with championship aspirations who can hang with the top teams when clicking. At times, there seemed to be some rumors of disconnect leadership-wise with the club. However, it seems like they are ready for at least another Final Four run and whatever issues there may have been earlier in the season appear to be resolved. Some performances to note from this team are standout rookies Robbie Mitchell and Will Hyatt who are seemingly locks for the all rookie team and will be rookie of the year contenders. Cincinnati looks to be going strong into 2023 after 3 quality showings at the BEAST.

2-1 with wins over UVA and UK, losing to UC

Despite coming into this tournament with only one practice in 2023, the Terps put out a strong showing at the BEAST and probably their best performance of the year with a dominant win over UVA. Adam Butz is quickly establishing himself as an All East Coast player and possibly an All American as just a sophomore. While Zach Demos and Connor Engel should both be considered for All Region come the end of the year. Rookie Max Pagella took over the left corner for the first time this year and anchored well with some great crosses. The biggest question for this club remains whether or not they can knock off teams in the Top 10. It is clear that they can compete outside of that, but we have yet to see them finish off a signature win over top opponents. Between the WAR in March and day one at Nationals, they will definitely get plenty of opportunities to boost their standing in the league.

1-2 with a win over Ohio, losing to PSU and UC

This was by no means a bad showing despite the Lakers’ record. Playing 3 top teams and either winning or playing close games is not something to be upset about. Many may consider this GV squad to be uncharacteristically “rebuilding.” However, their play at the BEAST shows that they can still compete with the best. Captain Tyler Peach had a great tournament and will surely be a repeat All American. Veterans Ben Smart and Owen Israels are likely joining him there as well. Despite not being the typical Grand Valley team rolling into Nationals, the club still has legit title or bust aspirations.

1-2 win a win over UK, losing to JMU and GVSU

The Bobcats definitely have to have left this tournament disappointed. Coming in at #2 in the country, you’d expect to sweep your schedule. However, they lost twice. First, falling 5-2 to GVSU and then a meltdown of sorts vs JMU in which they lost 5-2 once again, blowing a 2-0 lead. Ohio seemed lost and rattled at times on the court in these big games which is uncharacteristic of this squad. Star players Caleb Arnold and Terrence Checkett lost their composure on the court when Ohio needed them the most in order to accomplish their goals. Unlike some of the other top teams, this squad is not as experienced with many of their players being only in their first or second seasons playing, and it certainly showed at times. Despite all of this, Ohio should still view themselves as the team to beat in the Ohio region and contender for the National Championship. A perfect remedy for this showing would a dominant Ohio Dodgeball Cup win in a few weeks.

1-2 with a win over UK, losing to UMD and PSU

UVA did not really take a step forward or back this tournament. Their day resulting in handling lower ranked UK 5-1 while getting soundly beaten by the teams ranked above them. Despite going 1-2, this was still a good sign for a club that was essentially nonexistent last season. The fact that they are consistently bringing strong numbers to tournaments is sign of good things to come. Thanks to strong leadership from Cole Faggert and Wyndham White, it looks like the Cavaliers will only continue to get better. It would be nice to see how this team stacks up vs some of similarly ranked teams of other regions, which we can hopefully see before Nationals. Even if we don’t, UVA has not been to Nationals since 2018 and just attending would be a huge step forward for the program.

0-3 with losses to UVA, UMD, and Ohio

Although the results aren’t great at the moment, UK needs to focus on drawing from the positives on each tournament appearance. Despite only having 9 people attend, they worked some good points against UVA and UMD. Showing some flashes of catching prowess, UK might be able to pick up a win or two later in the season. Hopefully the Wildcat Captains David Mead and Skye Marvin can get some recruits prior to Nationals and maybe give some of the other lower ranked NCDA squads more competitive matches, as it seems they’ve only gone up against more experienced clubs thus far.

All in all, the 11th iteration of James Madison’s BEAST was a rousing success. We saw massive victories for some, and for others, losses that will have them losing sleep pouring over the film trying to figure out what went wrong. Frankly, that sounds about right for what this tournament’s reputation has come to be. Next up are the Michigan and Ohio region’s respective Cup tournaments, and from there we will truly be on the road to Nationals 2023 in Athens, OH.

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