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St. Olaf Zerks punch ticket to nationals

The St. Olaf Berzerkers, the St. Olaf men’s club ultimate frisbee team, entered their regional tournament in Madison, Wis., on the weekend of May 6 with one goal in mind—defending their title. Last fall, the Zerks tore through the North Central region on their way to a regional championship. The fall season ended in heartbreak however, as the Zerks were beaten in the national semifinals and ended up finishing third. This spring, the Zerks are looking for revenge. This past weekend they accomplished their first step on their quest for a national title by once again winning the North Central regional tournament and earning a place at nationals. 

The Zerks entered regionals ranked number one in the nation at the Division III level and quickly established why they are considered a national frontrunner. The team ran through the competition, posting an undefeated 5-0 record and a +50 goal differential. “Our expectation going in was to win the tournament and earn a bid to the national championship tournament. We were familiar with most of the other teams present, so we knew we could do that handily if we played to our potential. We did achieve both of those goals, as we got first place in a very dominant fashion,” said Gordon Larson ’22. 

The best display for the Zerks came against Grinnell College in the championship game.

“We went into halftime leading 8-0, and closed out the game 15-4. Winning so substantially in the championship game showed what our team is capable of. While the game itself wasn’t necessarily a nail biter, we were executing well and of course we are excited to take the trophy and advance to nationals,” Larson said.

The Zerks were able to handle every team thrown at them in a dominant display, further cementing them as the favorite to take home the national championship.

The Zerks will be led into the national tournament by a strong group of seniors looking to end their careers on a high note. The seniors have helped pave the way for a club that has made leaps in terms of national competition over their four years at St. Olaf. The Zerks also boast some incredible star power with Will Brandt ’24, widely considered one of the best players in the division, Luke Bleers ’23, a top defensive standout, and Ben Fjetland-Souza ’22, who orchestrates the offense as a top handler. 

Nationals will be held in Milwaukee, Wis., the weekend of May 21. The Zerks will enter as favorites to win the tournament. “That semifinal loss from the fall still stings, but has only made us more eager to win now. In the days before then, we will continue to be practicing and perfecting our systems.” Larson said. The Zerks are also looking to hold some showcase scrimmages with the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Carleton College.