Ben Prescott, sports editor 

Berry College will be hosting the Division III Ultimate Southeast Regional Championship tournament on April 23 and 24 at the Ford Fields. 

This will be the first time that Berry has hosted the tournament, which the men’s team, known as the Bucks, has found great success in prior seasons. Officially sanctioned with U.S. Ultimate in 2017, the Berry Bucks have won the region championship for the last three seasons. The team even made a national championship tournament appearance last season. 

Photo Courtesy of Larkin Dale

Even though the opportunity to host the tournament seems deserving for the decorated Bucks, captain Walter Ellard, senior, says he is excited to show Berry students what he has been working for the last four years. 

“For me, I put my heart into this team for four years,” Ellard said. “This is kind of a fun combination of all of our hard work and getting to show out in front of the student body and just have a good time.” 

Ellard also recognized the importance of playing with the ultimate goal of having fun. 

“At the end of the day, I’m out here to have fun,” Ellard said. “I didn’t come to Berry to play ultimate but I found it. This team is like my brothers and I just want to go have fun with them.” 

The season has been good to the Bucks, with an overall record of 11-1 after playing in two tournaments. Several of those wins came over nationally ranked teams, making the Bucks the fourth best team in the nation. 

Going into the tournament, the men’s team is the number one seed going against Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, from Daytona Beach, Fla. Later in the tournament, the Bucks are also slated to play Georgia College and State University. 

Robert Bradham, head coach for the men’s and women’s teams, views the number one seeding as a result of the hard work that the Bucks have put in throughout the season. 

“We have shown we deserve to be the one seed so far, so now coming in it’s good to be able to relax and play our game,” Bradham said. “I think we’re very excited to get here and be ready for the next chance to play at nationals.” 

The women’s ultimate team, known as the Berry Valkyries, also qualified for the Southeast Regional Tournament as well. The Valkyries were sanctioned in 2019 and have seen some success as the 24th ranked team in the nation. 

For the tournament, the Valkyries are slated to play in the region championship game against Union College at Valhalla Stadium. The outcome of this game will determine whether or not the Valkyries move on to the national tournament in May. 

Photo Courtesy of Larkin Dale

Captain Malia Busenitz, senior, said there were many benfits of having the regional tournament at Berry. 

“We’re excited for the opportunity to play and have a lot students and friends come support,” Busenitz said. “Hopefully, that will help our program and get people more interested in our team.” 

In preparation for the tournament, the Valkyries have been working harder than last season to give themselves the best shot. To do this, Busenitz mentioned that the team has been going the extra mile with practices and film sessions. 

“We have been getting out there and having extra practices, working out as a team and training more,” Busenitz said. “We’ve been watching film and as we get more experience and grow as a team, we try to learn more about the strategy of the game and having a higher frisbee IQ.”

According to Bradham, fans should look out for not only Ellard, but seniors Caleb Enright, Chris Gmeiner, junior Aidan Meek and sophomore Collin Hill. For the Valkyries, fans should expect Busenitz and junior Hannah Tritschler to make plays up and down the field. 

On Saturday, the Bucks kick the tournament off at 8:30 a.m. against the Embry-Riddle at Ford Field 1. At 9:30 a.m., the Valkyries will take on Union College to play in the Regional Championship at Valhalla Stadium. The Bucks will be back in action at 11:50 a.m. at Ford Field 1 to play against Georgia College. The men’s region semi-final will be on Sunday at 11 a.m., with the championship game following it. Admission to the tournament is free for all games. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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