Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CSU Hibida History 2003-2016

2003-2004 Season

The current era of Hib began in the 2003-2004 season with the first iteration of the Hib "H" logo and the first year the team pushed into the upper echelons of regional contention.  Fifth year captains Ben Aldridge, Mickey Thompson and Tony Petraglia made up the core of the team with plenty of younger talent surrounding them, including future Johnny Bravo and Machine stalwarts Adam Zwickl and Brett Kolinek.

Up until this year Hib was traditionally the third best team out of the Colorado Section behind CU "Mamabird" and the Colorado School of Mines "Entropy." This season marked the advancement of Hib into a second place finish out of the section, supplanting Entropy and solidifying their spot as the clear #2. The exclamation point of the rivalry came in a 16-14 win over Entropy at regionals to eliminate them from the tournament. Hib would fall to the UC-San Diego "Air Squids" 13-15 for a fifth place finish in the southwest to end the season.


With the departure of all three captains from the previous year, Adam Zwickl and Brett Kolinek took over the reigns of leadership. The team continued to flourish with big tournament wins at High Tide in Savannah and the Rocky Mountain Invite in Fort Collins during the '05 spring season. 

However, Hib was unable to find their footing at sectionals against Mamabird, again finishing second behind the reigning national champions. Regionals was held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and Hib struggled with the heavy wind, losing to Bird again in bracket play and finally being eliminated from contention by Arizona "Sunburn" for another 5th place finish.


The year's squad entered the season with high expectations. The team graduated only one player from the previous season and had their sights set on the first nationals berth in the history of the program. Brett had stepped down as captain for his fifth and final year. Oregon State transfer, Chad Pearson, and third-year player Tim Kefalas, joined Adam Zwickl as captains for the season.

The spring season went well with some tight losses to perennial contenders Stanford, Santa Barbara and Wisconsin, but solid wins over UC San Diego (2005's third place finisher at nationals), North Carolina, Pitt and Illinois. The team was tall, fast and brimming with veteran players. 

Heading into the series, Hib was ranked 16th in the country with an overall 30-6 record. Additionally, the southwest region had secured three bids to nationals; this would be the best opportunity for a nationals bid in the history of the program. 

At sectionals, Hib again ran into problems against Mamabird, losing both in pool play and in the finals by a dismal, combined score of 5-24 across the two games. The mental block of beating the "big brother" team was still firmly in place. 

Securing the overall four seed in the region left Hib on the same side of the bracket as one seed Mamabird for regionals. If all went to seed, Hib would again face Bird in the semifinals. After dispatching UC-San Diego B and Claremont handily, the team faced off yet again with Mamabird. The game started off with the usual sloppiness; Hib's offense was immediately broken twice. Facing an 0-2 hole the captains took a time-out and decided to swap the D-line and O-line roles. The starting D promptly rolled off three points in a row regaining the lead and putting the game back on serve.  The teams traded points with Hib leading 8-7 at the halftime break.

Mamabird, showing their big game maturity, came out of the second half in a low-wind zone look that Hib could not solve. Bird dominated the second half and secured a 15-11 win. They would go on to dismantle UC-Santa Barbara in the finals, 15-5, and would eventually lose in the finals of nationals 14-15 in one of the best championship games of all time, to Callahan winner Josh Ziperstein and Brown.

Hib's loss to Bird at regionals hurt, but the team had finally gotten over the hump, showing that, at least for a half, they could play with their Boulder rivals. However, the team stumbled in the backdoor brackets, losing to UC-San Diego and Claremont for yet another fifth place finish and a disappointing end to a peak season.  


The previous year's top 20 squad graduated nine seniors but still entered into the '06-'07 season with a lot of confidence. Senior, Joe Roza, joined Tim as captain and the team re-tooled around the athletic skill-sets of big man Jordan White and young phenoms Nick Snuszka and Andy Stringer.  

The previous year's success allowed Hib many opportunities against the top competition in the spring but it was challenging, filled with many tough losses and no signature wins over nationals-level competition.

Hib again finished second out of the section to Mamabird, but faltered at regionals, getting upset by Arizona State on universe point in pool play and UCLA on universe in pre-quarters for a 9th place finish.


Tim stepped down as captain (Joe graduated) after the disappointing finish the previous season and turned the team over to Jordan and (Andy) Stringer. 

The 2008 squad wasn't as deep as the 2006 team, but the top 5-6 players could run with any team in the country and there were still high hopes for a nationals qualification, with Stringer specifically having gained experience playing with Johnny Bravo the previous club season. 

The spring season was solid, if not spectacular, with no signature wins over top competition, but consistent performances across the board. 

For the fifth year in a row the sectionals final came down to Hib vs Bird. This year however, was a very tight, hotly contested game played in pristine conditions at the Colorado Academy in Denver. Both teams traded points with neither able to gain more than a one point lead. At 13-13, Hib had a chance to pull ahead on a big huck from freshmen standout Spencer Branson to Stringer, but it wasn't meant to be as a huge layout for the disc came up just short, the trailing edge glancing just off Stringer's outstretched hand. Bird would score the point then break for the win 15-13.

At regionals, Hib was an overall 9 seed. Arizona, in a peak year, was the one seed in Hib's pool (and two seed overall) with UCLA the 2, Hib the 3 and Cal-Poly Pomona as the 4. 

The first game of the day would be Hib vs Sunburn (Arizona) and with both teams very familiar with each other, they both knew it was going to be a tight game. Hib perhaps had a slight athletic advantage, but Zona had soon-to-be Callahan award winner Joe Kershner. The game began and ended close with extremely high pressure man defense as the cornerstone for both teams strategically in the humid San Diego air.  

Kershner would toe-in the game winner with a huge defensive bid from junior Sam Plasman being just out of reach for the 15-13 win. 

Arizona would lose in the finals to CU Mamabird 15-11 and go on to finish fifth at nationals. 

Hib finished second in the pool, handily beating 2 seed UCLA 15-10 and Pomona 15-6. A close UC-Irvine game in the prequarters of the second place bracket was a bit of a surprise, but Hib pulled it out 15-13 and went on to play UC-San Diego in the quarters. Struggles against UC-San Diego's infamous four-man cup would lead to an 11-13 loss and a 7th place finish overall.


This season marked the first year that Hib employed a coach since 2002, bringing on recent graduate Tim Kefalas to head up strategic leadership.

The team was again top heavy, with a very strong top five but waning depth behind them. A healthy fall season went well, with a final record of 16-1 and the one loss to perennial contender, Wisconsin.

The spring had its ups and downs. Relying so heavily on so few players meant the squad had a very high ceiling but also a low floor if any one of those main players was having an off-game.

At sectionals Hib ran with very tight lines in the 1v2 game versus CU. After a tight loss to Bird, a physically and emotionally drained team would fall to both Air Force and Colorado College for a 4th place finish out of the section.

At regionals, Hib was seeded 14th overall but easily took second in their pool behind Mamabird, beating New Mexico (game highlights provided, Hib in green) and Cal State-Long Beach, setting up a pre-quarters matchup with San Diego State.

Hib cruised early in pre-quarters, taking half 7-3, but injuries to key players and the culmination of a full season of tight lines led to a loss.

The team ran open lines and finished tied for 15th in consolation brackets Sunday.


The core from the previous season had all graduated together (Andy Stringer, Sam Plasman, David Johnson and David Fjelstad) and the team's overall athleticism and experience dipped significantly.

2010 also marked the restructuring of the College season and the redrawing of the regional boundaries, moving Colorado from the southwest region to the south central. Additionally, this was the first year that DI and DIII teams split up, moving Colorado College, Air Force and the Colorado School of Mines out of Hib's section (renamed "conference"). A full write-up of the college restructure can be seen here. (Please note that the current college system in 2016 has been tweaked and streamlined to a very efficient, effective system and would currently receive high grades from most participants.)

Young leadership and coaches worked hard to recruit new players, but the season was painful competitively. Hib's south central debut was poor, limping into regionals on a supplemental bid (earned only after another team declined theirs) and a 13th place finish.


This year's squad again lacked elite athleticism, but the core from the previous season stayed together, building chemistry and developing effective scheme. Additionally, the team gained several high-profile high school recruits including Stephen Gross and Oliver Feind.

Conference championships (previously sectionals) was a six team round robin, with only two bids available to regionals. Mamabird was ranked in the top 10 in the country and would easily secure the first bid. The favorite for the second bid was Wyoming, a team with a very solid regular season putting them ranked 43rd overall heading into the series. Hib was the three seed, but was ranked 132nd, nearly 100 full spots behind Wyoming.

Hib put together a fine performance, finishing 4-1 overall with their only loss to Mamabird and a dominant 11-4 victory over Wyoming to secure the second regionals bid. Celebrating a regionals bid was a far cry from the top 20 teams of year's past, but the team was elated, knowing that the future was bright and an upward trajectory was in place.

At regionals, Hib struggled against stiffer competition, finishing 13th, but the players and coaches felt confident the program would continue to improve.


The team continued to grow its talent base in 2012, adding in UK stud Rob White and grad student Scott "Mammoth" Alton from Michigan State.

A strong spring season culminated in a fun, competitive scrimmage versus Fort Collins club players (seen left, Hib in blue).

A third place finish at sectionals secured a regionals bid behind Mamabird and Colorado College (CC was playing DI rather than DIII, having qualified for DI nationals in 2011).

Regionals in Austin, Texas was a hot, humid affair but the team showed improvement in the final standings, finishing tied for 9th: slowly and steadily moving up in the region.


In 2012, the first realistic goals and expectations for starting to push into the top 5 at regionals again seeped their way into the leadership meetings early season. Hib had a solid core of guys headlined by now third-year Stephen "Stacey" Gross and captained by Matt Marrapode and Chris "Bearcat" Gauen.

One unfortunate November night however, Stacey limped to an indoor practice with a devastated look on his face. He had torn his ACL playing in a local indoor league. The team was bummed as they relied heavily on Stacey's arsenal of throws to fuel much of the offense.

Leadership shuffled around roles and tweaked offensive strategy to rely more on quick movement and break-marks rather than the deep looks the team had focused on with Stacey at the helm. Despite losing their best player, the team played well, with many players stepping into bigger roles, including Kyle Enns, Pete Jadco and freshman Luke Doyle.

Stacey, meanwhile, had surgery and attacked his rehab with a fervor with the goal of making it back for the series. The Monday before conferences, Stacey was cleared to play. He only tested his knee's strength for a couple of the easier games at conferences, waiting to really test his limits at regionals.

Stacey's return, with the well-rounded play from his teammates, led to  the strongest regionals showing for Hib since 2008 and a 7th place finish. A full write-up of that tournament is available here.


This year's squad again entered the season with high expectations. The team had graduated very few players from the 2013 squad and Stacey, in his senior year, was back to full strength. However, the entire spring was plagued with injuries for the team.

This came to a head at sectionals, where tight losses to CC and CU sapped the depth of the team (similar to 2009). By the fourth and final game of the day, Hib was missing seven offensive and defensive starters to injury, and a peak UNC (Northern Colorado) team featuring their 'big three' of David Popp, Jeremiah Schwartz and Toby Nordhoff would upset Hib for the last bid to regionals. This would be the first time, in the modern history of the program, that the team would not get a regionals bid.

It was a devastating end to the CSU career of Stacey, one of the best players ever to come through the program. He would attend graduate school at Brandeis university in 2015 for his fifth year of eligibility and lead them to a second place finish at DIII nationals.


The 2014-2015 season began with a stellar class of freshmen and graduate students including Jake Servaty, Jack Hinchsliff, David Miller, Dylan Johnson and Cody Spicer.

The team refocused on competitive goals while maintaining an inclusive and highly positive attitude. For the first time since 2005, the team returned to President's Day in San Diego, getting opportunities to again test their mettle against elite programs like Oregon.

Hibida played a tough day one with several tight games including a 13-12 win over Cal Poly-SLO, and a furious comeback against Cal that fell just short for an 11-12 loss. However the win over SLO would be the only victory Hib secured and a 1-3 record and fourth place finish in the pool dropped Hib out of the first place bracket.

The final two days of the tournament however, Hib would find their stride and win out, finishing 9th with another win over SLO 15-12 in the final game.

The next tournament on the schedule was Trouble in Vegas. The competition wouldn't be as challenging as at Pres Day and there were realistic expectations to place very well at the tournament.

Day one was a very windy affair, with wins against CU-Denver, Puget Sound, Occidental, and Santa Clara. Sunday morning the wind had died down but there was light rain that continued throughout the day. A tight quarterfinals matchup against a tall Utah team saw Hib climb back from a halftime deficit for a 12-9 victory. Semis against an athletic and fiery Chico State team was another close game, with Hib squeaking out a universe point win on D.

The finals was against Colorado College, a regional rival and team Hib hadn't bested since 2008. The game was close throughout, played in a light drizzle. CC's freshmen phenom (and eventual south central freshmen of the year winner) Grant Mitchell played extremely well and would end up throwing the universe point goal for a 12-11 win for Colorado College.

At conferences, the team would finish third behind Mamabird and CC, securing a bid to regionals and the overall 5 seed at the tournament. The Rocky Mountain Conference, flexing their collective muscles, would boast three of the top five seeds at the tournament in CU, CC and CSU.

A full regionals write-up is here.

The team finished overall sixth place, being eliminated by Wash-U in a wild and wet affair Sunday morning that saw Hib climb back from 7-12 to tie the game 12-12 before losing 12-14.

Cody Spicer and Jake Servaty were awarded spots on the all-region and all-freshmen team respectively for their seasons.

The team was hugely optimistic, knowing that their young core and positive team culture was going to lift the program even further in the years to come.


With almost the entire team returning from the previous year, this year's squad again had lofty expectations. Adding fuel to the fire were the additions of two first-team all-state high school studs, Jake Marrapode from Illinois and Hudson Martin from Texas.

The team returned to President's Day again for 2016 to open the Spring season.

Hib was again in Oregon's pool this year, but took second in the pool with some solid wins against Oklahoma and SLO but losing to Oregon 9-13. A disappointing universe loss to Chico State would end up being a non-factor as the head-to-head win over SLO secured the second place finish.

In power pools, Hib lost to 2015 nationals qualifiers Western Washington 13-15 and Colorado 14-16, dropping them into the ninth place bracket.

Hib would win out for 9th again, similar to 2015, but the competition level at the tournament this year was much higher and leadership was content with the finish.

Hib's next tournament was again Trouble in Vegas, but this year the tournament had moved back several weeks and had attracted significantly better competition, including the #1 ranked Wisconsin "Hodags." Hib was the overall two seed and was eagerly anticipating a finals match-up with Wisconsin who had beaten them 14-11 in the fall at MLC.

Unfortunately, the team stumbled in pool play, losing to a sharp San Diego State team 11-13. This result pushed Hib to Wisconsin's side of the championship bracket. After cruising through pre-quarters and quarters Hib and Wisco faced off in the semis. In the marquee game of the tournament, the Hodags came away with a contested 12-9 win. They would continue on to crush Arizona 13-5 in the finals and would finish the season in fifth place at nationals.

Hib exacted their revenge on San Diego State in the 3rd place game, beating them 13-8.

Riding a 27th overall ranking  into their final tournament of the year, Huck Finn, Hib had an outside shot at finishing in the top 20 and securing an additional nationals bid for the south central region with a strong performance. However, the extremely windy conditions at the tournament did not play well to the team's strengths and after some tough losses, Hib limped to a 10th place finish.

Hib finished second out of the conference to CU and would enter regionals as the overall four seed.

A full regionals write-up is here.

In the end, the team finished fifth in the region, being eliminated in a tight game with Texas 14-16.

Cody Spicer was again honored with a spot on the all-region team with Jake Marrapode taking home Freshman of the Year honors for the south central, as well as a place on the all-freshmen team alongside Hudson Martin.

Heading into the 2016-2017 season, the team is excited to continue their upward trend, with the program's first nationals berth well within reach.

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