As the college Ultimate has seemingly been falling apart there has been one constant over the course of the season. That constant has been Carleton College and CUT is being rewarded for its consistency as it received the No. 1 seed for the upcoming UPA College Nationals in Columbus, Ohio on May 22-25. CUT began its season with a one-loss performance at Cultimate’s Trouble in Vegas and continued on a path to success throughout the entire preseason.
The question that must be floating through the minds of many Ultimate fans is: How does CUT stay on top of the Ultimate world? As Oregon falls for on-the-field issues that are kind of off-the-field issues and Florida falls to the strength of the rest of its Region, CUT stayed strong, winning its Region and defeating Wisconsin at Regionals for the first time in four years.
However, to hear members of Carleton talk about their season, you wouldn’t think that this season has been much of anything special.
“CUT is a team that peaks at Nationals,” sophomore Daniel Curme wrote us in an e-mail. “Because Nationals is the only tournament in the season that we play to win, the best is indeed yet to come.”
That being said, Curme and others on the team are still quick to recognize that there is something different about their college and their team. CUT took the No. 1 seed at Nationals this year despite having an enrollment that is either just barely or just under a tenth of the enrollment of the No. 2-4 seeds in the National tournament. Carleton will certainly be the team that everyone is gunning for once Nationals begins but part of CUT’s success is the team’s ability to be impervious to the pressure that comes along with being one of the best teams in the nation.
“I don’t think a No. 1 seed is going to effect how we play at Nationals,” Curme wrote. “We don’t think about our opponent’s symbol or name or season record. We play every game with the same mindset.”
Carleton’s mindset is more important than blissful ignorance of other team’s attitudes towards them. It includes the team’s attitude towards itself. CUT has a bond that is rare for many Ultimate teams.
“First and foremost, I think (our continued success is attributed to) the nature of our program,” Curme wrote. “CUT is more than just a frisbee team. We are a group of friends. We live together at school, eat together, study together and party together. We are, and historically have been, a very tight knit group of guys.”
However, a perfect team mentality won’t win the game by itself. CUT puts just as much hard work and has just as much talent as any other top program. Among the products of that hard work and talent are players such as sophomore Grant Lindsley, a graduate of Paideia High School, and senior captain Chris Kosednar. The two combine to anchor Carleton’s precise O-Line with precision cuts from Lindsley and brilliant handling from Kosednar. On defense, while Carleton boasts a line without a single senior, there is no talent dropoff. Sophomore captain Sam Kanner and sophomore Christian Foster lead the team’s defense with play that not only leads to turns but also results in scores off of the turns.
“On offense we run hard and play efficiently,” Curme wrote. “Everyone can throw and cut. Our o-line is smart and puts the disc in. We can hit unders or jack it deep. We don’t reset to a handler so he can look deep, we move the ball constantly. D-line runs, runs and runs. Our legs are better than any team out there and we show it by running hard.”
Those players and playing style bring experience and a certain advantage to the table but CUT gains experience as the season goes on. Carleton has yet to play in a tournament this preseason where it did not see at least three other teams that would also end up headed to Nationals. Tournaments like TiV, The Stanford Invite and Centex are crucial to CUT’s success later on in the season.
“We don’t play those tournaments to win them,” Curme wrote. “We play (relatively) equal lines, talk about our goals as a team and as individuals and practice them. It’s certainly nice to get exposure to the other top ranked teams but I think our mindset going in those tournaments sets us apart. So the exposure is good because everyone gets exposure, not just our top guys.”
Now Carleton is hoping that exposure will pay dividends at Nationals. Carleton has been consistently working throughout the season to put itself in a position to win the only tournament that really matters to it. CUT is heading to Columbus in two weekends and, according to Curme, it will be doing the one thing that it knows how to do. That is to play Carleton Ultimate.
“The team will be satisfied if it plays CUT Ultimate,” Curme wrote. “Whether that means winning or losing, if we play our game, to its fullest potential and ability with no regrets, we will be a satisfied team.”
However, CUT, as can be seen through its success this season and its success through the last 20 years, plays a style of Ultimate that is just a little bit different than most other colleges’ styles of Ultimate.
“The purpose of CUT Ultimate, however, is to beat any opponent we face,” Curme wrote.