The Knox College ultimate frisbee team overcame frigid conditions to win the USA Ultimate Illinois Sectional Championship on Saturday, April 13 in Bourbonnais, Ill. With the title, Knox advanced to the Great Lakes Regional Championship, which will take place in two weeks in Rockford, Ill.
In conditions that never got over 40 degrees, Knox claimed victories in their first three pool play games before dropping their final game against a nationally ranked North Park University squad.
“Our energy level was down at the end of day one, three 90 minute games add up when they are back to back to back. We felt much better playing [North Park] following just one game the next day,” junior and team captain Joey Knutson said.
Knox had to take out Olivet-Nazarene University in the semi-finals before getting a rematch with North Park in the finals. Knox came away with a 13-11 victory to win the tournament.
“We saw some of the things they were doing [in the pool play game] and talked about how we needed to adjust for the next day and come up with the right strategy,” Knutson said.
Knutson credited the victory not only to tactical adjustments but also competitive experience. Knox traveled to Louisville, Ky. two weeks ago, where they took on fierce competition.
“There were a lot of Division I teams there and ranked Division III teams. We won a couple games, and the games we lost were close, so it was a great confidence builder,” Knutson said.
Senior Jason McGeeney believes that Knox uses a style of play that can keep the success coming.
“We play a very up-tempo and emotional type of game. We like to make deep throws and are unafraid to take risks. If we get a few quick points, we put the pressure on the other team,” McGeeney said.
And if the weather continues to be uncooperative, McGeeney says Knox is not afraid to play rough.
“Anybody can play when it is sunny out with no wind, so it was nice to prove in this last tournament we could win in bad conditions. A lot of other teams don’t have the players to get through this [weather],” McGeeney said.
Though North Park, who also qualified for the Great Lakes regional tournament via a national ranking, will likely be the favorite next week, Knox feels like they can triumph once again.
“North Park is still going to be the favorite [going into the regional], but we showed we are a dangerous team,” Knutson said.
“We are going to press [North Park] hard, and in terms of matchups, I think we’ve got them as long as we do what we’re supposed to,” McGeeney said.