The St. Olaf men’s ultimate frisbee team, better known as the Berzerkers, are off to a hot start this spring season, winning both of their first two tournaments. Their high level of play and competitive edge this year has garnered national attention – the team were most recently ranked as twelfth-best in the nation.
During the fall 2018 season, the Berzerkers finished 8-1 and won a scrimmage 15-12 against the Carleton Gods of Plastic (GoP), currently ranked fourth in the nation.
The D-III Midwestern Invite, which took place March 8-11 in Fair Oak Farms, Ind. was one for the books. With temperatures in the forties, standing water on the fields and wind constantly blowing at 25 miles per hour, the weather offered a huge challenge for competing teams to overcome.
There was no question the Berzerkers – well-acquainted with the cold – came prepared.
The team started in Pool C, alongside the club teams from the University of Puget Sound, North Park University and Indiana Wesleyan. Despite losing to Puget Sound 9-10 Saturday morning, they bounced back by dominating both Indiana Wesleyan and North Park 10-3 in the afternoon.
The Berzerkers opened up bracket play early Sunday morning against a resilient Ohio Northern University team. They took care of business 11-7 and proceeded to win back-to-back games against Brandeis and Missouri S&T 8-6 and 8-7, respectively, to earn a spot in the championship against the University of Portland. The team won the championship 8-6.
The Berzerkers were also put to the test this spring at the Midwest Meltdown in Columbia, Miss. on March 2-3, where they also won the championship. They coasted by St. Johns University 13-4, University of Missouri 12-6, Missouri State University 13-9 and the University of Marquette 13-8.
The “Zerks” are led by Drew Otterlei ’20, Ben Fjetland- Souza ’22, Matt Whear ’20, Aidan Clements ’19, Austin Brown ’19 and coached by Caleb Szydlo ’09.
Coach Szydlo spoke to the handlers’ performance and credited them as having the biggest impact on the Berzerker’s weekend success at the Midwestern Invite.
“We have a really strong handler core that were able to throw dishy throws and get resets,” Szydlo said. “We got lucky on a couple deep shots here and there, in the finals especially. It was definitely our handler movement that propelled us to victory.”