Whitman Sports Blog: Ultimate teams finish seasons at Regionals
Two teams of Whitman Sweets. Two top-tier finishes at Regionals. And two very different feelings on the trip home.
After successful runs in 2011, both Sweets teams set their sights high and decided to compete in the Division I National Championships for the second year in a row. The men traveled to Corvallis, Ore. while the women were set to play in Eugene.
On the women’s side, logistics drove the decision to compete at the DI level. The team could have played in DIII Regionals and most likely advanced to DIII Nationals, but that tournament falls on Whitman’s commencement weekend. According to junior captain Kelley Hall, the decision was ultimately a team vote but not too difficult.
“We really wanted to ensure that our whole team could feel good about whatever decision we made,” said Hall. “Our team felt really strongly about [not] leaving our seniors behind for what would arguably be the most important tournament of the year.”
Sophomore Cathryn Klusmeier noted that without the seniors, the team would be missing a number of key players.
In addition to the inopportune timing, the choice to play DI made more sense logistically because of travel costs: this year DIII Nationals will be in Appleton, Wisc. and expenses would have had to have been paid out of pocket (though they would have gotten some assistance from Whitman Club Sports).
Nevertheless, the team decided DI was the way to go and prepared to face its stiffest competition yet at Regionals.
Whitman came into the weekend alongside three of the top four teams in the nation – the University of Oregon, the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia – and the Sweets knew they had to play their best to come out victorious and with a Nationals bid in hand. The team performed well in bracket play and beat the University of Victoria to advance to the third place game with the winner qualifying for Nationals.
“We stayed with UBC for eight points trading scores back and forth, but they are an exceptional team and we eventually ended up losing to them,” said Hall. “We were just grateful for the opportunity to play at such a high level.”
While the women’s team came away excited by its performance against some of the top competition in the country, the men’s team admittedly did not live up to its expectations. After advancing to DI Nationals in 2011 and finishing with a No. 19 national ranking, the Sweets believed they were capable of repeating that success in 2012.
Whitman ran through its first four games and closed out bracket play with a 13-11 victory over UW, one of the team’s biggest rivals. However, UW came out fighting the next day in the teams’ rematch and the Sweets suffered a tough 15-12 loss.
A 13-7 win over the University of Utah sent Whitman to the first-place game, but needed to win that game in order to qualify for Nationals. Although the Sweets’ region had two bids to Nationals this year, only one was up for grabs in the first-place game.
In what turned out to be the final game of the season, Whitman could not hang with the University of Oregon and lost 15-10 in a rough game. The Sweets finished the season on a disappointing note, especially for the team’s seven seniors.
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