Gauntlet Goes 4-2 At Tourney

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Gauntlet Goes 4-2 At Tourney

The Southerner

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By Lucy Leonard

At half time of their fourth game of the day, six of the 14 ultimate Frisbee players on the Grady boys team sat on the sidelines nursing injuries.

“I am asking a very serious question,” Gauntlet co-coach Dylan Tunnell said.

“Do you want to finish this game? ‘Cause right now you’re kind of dropping like flies.”      A chorus of boys’ voices echoed that they did, in fact, want to continue playing.

“Should we just call the game early?” Tunnell asked.

“Never!” junior captain Alex Glick said.

Instead of ending their game against Hillside Tech prematurely, the boys passed around a jar of pickles, took turns chugging the salty juice in an attempt to try to prevent further injuries and cramps and filed back onto the field.

This saline ritual was a common occurrence for the Grady Gauntlet during the weekend of the Queen City Tune Up Ultimate Tournament in Charlotte, NC.

The Gauntlet played four games on Feb. 12 and two games on Feb. 13. The team’s final record was 4-2, after its wins over Cardinal Gibbons High School, Cavalry Baptist Day School, Gaston Day School and Chapel Hill High School.

Co-coach and literature teacher Susie Mercer was impressed with how the team played.

“I was kind of afraid going into the tournament that we would just get slaughtered,” Mercer said. “To make it to [semifinals] and take third place was a big deal.”

Senior captain Rechard Byrd, who hopes to play ultimate for the University of Georgia in the fall, also felt that the team stepped up their game for the competition.

“We looked like a team, and we performed well,” Byrd said. “We moved the disc quickly and got it off the line. We played really well compared to how I thought we were going to do.”

Byrd said the Gauntlet benefited from playing in a tournament that had a college division as well.

“I think watching the college tournament was good because we got to see a higher level of ultimate,” Byrd said.  “In the college division, they have observers instead of just calling [fouls] on the field yourself, so we got to see how the observer works and how they slow the game down a little bit.”

Glick found that seeing older teams showed a tougher side of ultimate.

“I got to watch UGA play against Ohio State, and it was an entirely different level of competitive playing,” Glick said.

Grady alumnus and former two-year captain of the Gauntlet Elliott Erickson also played in the tournament on UGA’s team, Jojah. Erickson was able to watch some of Grady’s games when his team was not playing.

“I thought the Grady team looked great,” Erickson said. “It was crazy seeing them play without me on the team, but it was a lot of fun to watch. Another thing that was cool was to see my little brother playing on the same team that I loved so much in high school.”

Erickson’s brother, freshman Riley Erickson, was the top scorer for the team that weekend with nine of the team’s 56 points.

Riley Erickson was not, however, the only player to excel at the tournament, Byrd said.

“The past few years, there has been that one player on the team that has been the superstar,” Byrd said. “Elliott Erickson was the superstar last year. The year before that it was [Emory Ozell] and the year before that it was Max Leonard, but this year there’s not just one person who sticks out as the superstar.”

Mercer felt that many of the freshmen added talent to the young team.

“Josh [Weinstock] and Michael [Dillard], for example, were integral to the downfield play, and they were both really aggressive on defense, which surprised me because they’re not the biggest guys in the world, and they were going up against guys twice their size,” Mercer said.

The rookies had many opportunities to play due to numerous injuries among the veterans. Despite setbacks from these injuries, Glick felt the team really came together.

“The best part of the tournament was our ability to play as a team throughout the weekend and play with intensity even when losing,” Glick said.

This story won second place in the Sports story category of the Southern Interscholastic Press Association Mail-In Contest on March 4, 2012.

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