Sports


A three-peat for Gunn Control Ultimate Frisbee team

 
From left to right: John Ortberg III (Coach), Peter Chen, Ilai Beth, Ryley Ross, Jack Flinchbaugh, Skylar Fong, Colin Schultz, Hudson DeGroff, Owen Kuwayti (practice player), Evan Kandell, Itay Chang, Cameron Fiske, Alain Saal-Dalma, Ryden Secor, Michael Tao, Tejas Kadambi, Milan Moslehi, Zachary Rosner, Arjun Gupta, Ben Pratt. Photo courtesy of Stefan Rosner.

No one can doubt Gunn Control now. The Ultimate Frisbee team based out of Gunn High showed its back-to-back-to-back state titles were no flukes and it has a national ranking to prove it.

Just as Stanford and UC Berkeley football teams meet each year at the "Big Game" to see who will commandeer the coveted axe, so too the "Gunn Control" and Berkeley High's "High Coup" Ultimate Frisbee teams are cross-bay rivals who duel each spring for the coveted California Division I High School Ultimate State Title.

Ultimate Frisbee, a fast-paced, self-refereed, non-contact international team sport, combines many of the best features of soccer, basketball, lacrosse and football.

Berkeley High Coup was virtually a dynasty for many years, with three State Championship titles between 2013-16. Gunn Control turned the tide with an upset win at the 2017 California State Ultimate Championship to take the title home to Palo Alto.

Gunn repeated in the 2018 championship contest in Sacramento, quickly followed by a regional championship title at the Mountain Invite in Colorado, where Gunn Control bested many of the top high school ultimate programs from Colorado and Utah.

Still some doubted Gunn Control could hold the state title for a third year, having graduated more than a few of their most experienced and talented players. Though High Coup also lost several of their more experienced seniors, they retained a very tight-knit core of talented and enthusiastic athletes who had been playing together since as early as middle school.

During fall 2018 and spring 2019 league play, High Coup seemed almost "untouchable," with Gunn Control finishing behind Berkeley and strong squads from Bentley Upper School and El Cerrito High School.

Then it was Gunn Control's turn. This year's state championship, held in Fresno in May, featured Gunn Control and High Coup meeting after both were undefeated into the finals. That's when nature took control.

Just before the final match, thunderstorms rolled through the Central Valley, resulting in several 45 minute lightning delays. The match was started, but had to be called off in the midst of the second point, when lightning struck only a few miles away from the fields.

Efforts to reschedule the championship match took nearly a month, allowing the athletes to take their final exams, finish their school years, and some graduated.

Finally, the match was scheduled for a Tuesday evening match at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

The skies were clear but gusty winds at field level challenged even the strongest throwers on both teams. Gunn Control coach John Ortberg III opted for a stifling "zone" defense, forcing High Coup to make lots of lateral "swing" passes and catches in the gusty conditions. This proved to be a winning strategy, and Gunn Control was able to convert several High Coup errors into break points.

Gunn Control held on to win 11-8 and take its third straight title. Less than 48 hours later, both teams boarded flights to out-of-state tournaments. Gunn Control headed to Colorado to defend their 2018 regional title at the Mountain Invite, while Berkeley High Coup traveled to the 2019 High School National Invite tournament in Rockford, IL.

In a stunning conclusion to the High School Ultimate season, High Coup, led by coach James Sheridan, shrugged off their loss to Gunn Control at state and claimed the 2019 High School National Championship title, vanquishing several higher-seeded teams including Edina (Minnesota), Grady (Georgia), and Lone Peak (Utah).

Berkeley ranks second nationally in ultiworld.com's final poll, which came out Thursday. Gunn Control ranks 10th.

In August, many of the top players from both Gunn Control and High Coup will be competing, not as opponents but as teammates at the Youth Club Championship, a national Ultimate tournament held in Blaine, Minnesota.

The Gunn Control and High Coup teams will both be honored for their achievements by the local American Ultimate Disc League Pro Ultimate team San José Spiders on Saturday during halftime of their 7 p.m. game against the Seattle Cascades at Foothill College Stadium in Los Altos Hills.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Rovers
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2019 at 7:00 am

Well done Gunn Control! I didn't realize Ultimate Frisbee had such a strong pun game!


2 people like this
Posted by AliMcGali
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 25, 2019 at 4:59 pm

Congratulations Gunn Control! So proud of the youth movement in Ultimate!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Couple brings Chinese zongzi to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 6,207 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 1,956 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,747 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,285 views

The kindness of strangers
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 564 views

 

Register today!

​On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More