Ultimate Frisbee team sets sights on gliding into championship

Fifth-year captain Payton Laurie slides to throw the Frisbee while avoiding a defender at the Silver Bowl Soccer Complex in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Payton Laurie

With only a couple tournaments left, Chico State’s Ultimate Frisbee team is looking to keep the strong play up and soar into the National Championships.

The Wildcats have played in four tournaments this season, three of which have been sanctioned, counting toward the team’s regular season record.

The team has placed in the top three in three of those tournaments, said Ryan Watson, the team’s head coach.

“We are ranked 41st in the nation,” he said. “Throughout the years, we’ve been 38th, 37th, 39th and 41st, so hovering right around the same area.”

The team has posted a 12-5 record on the year so far and showcased many strengths, including athleticism and depth.

“Our top 10 are insanely good,” Watson said, “and we have a pretty good team overall.”

In recent years, the number of players has increased. One of the team’s key players is fifth-year team captain Payton Laurie.

This season, the ‘Cats have been plagued with injuries, which resulted in the team not being able to compete in its tournaments in good health, Laurie said.

“I just want everyone to be healthy (because) when it comes down to our last game on Sunday, you are just so exhausted,” he said. “It’s hard to not have that one extra person.”

There are also areas the team can improve on, including the players’ attitudes and poise, Laurie said.

Compared with other years, the team’s current roster has plenty of raw and talented players.

“I have seen a lot, and the seriousness of it has increased and the talent level we have is unbelievable,” Laurie said. “The young guys that are now third-years — they now have the smarts and the brains for the game.”

This weekend, the team will travel to Davis to play in an unsanctioned tournament, which will not count toward the season record.

Going into the tournament, the Wildcats are going to be focusing on working out the kinks before upcoming bigger tournaments, Watson said.

Two weeks after the Davis tournament, the team will head to sectionals, where Watson believes the team will perform well.

“I feel that this year is the year that we will be able to do it,” Watson said.

After sectionals, the team heads to the Southwest Regionals, if it qualifies, for a chance to compete in the National Championships.

“At Regionals, there are at least eight teams in the top 45, so it’s not an easy region to get out of,” Watson said.

Plenty of other teams believe that Chico State is the dark horse of the tournament, Laurie said..

“If we can all stay together and be healthy,” he said, “I think we have the best shot Chico (State) has ever had at going to Nationals.”

Matthew Vislosky can be reached at [email protected] or @MattVislosky on Twitter.