The acknowledged yardstick when it comes to ultimate frisbee excellence among high school teams in Indiana resides in Johnson County.
On Saturday, nine-time state champion Center Grove attempts to reach double figures with yet another title when it hosts the state tournament at Maple Grove Elementary School.
Center Grove is seeded first among the nine teams, having managed an 8-0 record in the regular season.
“Pretty much anyone who has a team is invited, so this is it,” said Trojans coach Noah Wahl, a 2019 Center Grove graduate who played ultimate frisbee for five seasons (eighth-graders were allowed to allowed to play up a grade due to the school not having a middle school club at the time.)
“The best way I can explain ultimate frisbee is that it’s kind of like football, basketball and soccer all rolled into one. Each team has seven players on the field at one time.”
Center Grove opens postseason play against Scottsburg, a team it downed, 8-6, earlier this month.
The Center Grove Ultimate club, founded in 2003, produced its first state championship team four years later. Trojan teams rattled off eight consecutive titles from 2011-18 with the 2019 squad finishing runner-up.
Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, the 2020 season was canceled.
Every player’s introduction to ultimate frisbee is unique.
The sport is self-officiated and features handlers and cutters, who are, in essence, the quarterbacks and receivers of their team, respectively.
“A few of my friends were in it, and my two older brothers played it,” said Jack Kempe, a junior who is one of the Trojans’ co-captains with senior T.J. Feitl. “One is a senior on the team and the other graduated. I like how the game is always in my control. I’m always a handler, and help control the speed of the game.”
To score a goal in what is deemed a non-contact sport, players pass the disc until it is carried all the way to the opponent’s end zone. The player in possession of the disc must establish a pivot foot and cannot run with it.
Players have a maximum of three steps to slow down after receiving it to establish a pivot point; any more is a traveling violation. Incomplete pass attempts are turnovers, allowing the other team to immediately gain possession moving the opposite direction.
“I like the competitiveness of it, and there’s always a good spirit to the game,” Feitl said. “You have to be calm while you’re playing or you start making mistakes. We won state eight years in a row, then lost to Fishers (in 2019) — and last year we didn’t play at all. I’m looking forward to bringing (the title) back.”
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Ultimate frisbee state tournament
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.
Where: Maple Grove Elementary School, Bargersville
Teams competing by seed: 1. Center Grove; 2. Brebeuf ‘A’; 3. Muncie Burris; 4. Scottsburg; 5. Center Grove ‘B’; 6. Fishers; 7. Roncalli ‘A’; 8. Roncalli ‘B’; 9. Brebeuf ‘B’