by Byron Hicks
I don't know if this is the biggest upset ever in Ultimate but it certainly has to be the biggest in Open Nationals.
Nationals in 1987 was still a twelve team tournament. I was playing for Texas Heat who was the number two team out of the South. We had fourteen players, five who had never been to Nationals. Our pool was seeded as follows (if memory serves): Tsunami, Titanic, Tunas, Looney Tunes, LA Polo Club, Texas Heat.
We were the twelfth seed in the tournament, which is what we deserved. We had already played Looney Tunes, Tunas, and Titanic. The first two we gave pretty good games but still lost. Titanic handled us pretty easily and the weekend was looking pretty miserable at that time. Our next to last game on Saturday was against the number two seeded Tsunami. These guys were loaded with great players like Masher, Geyer, Lobs, Sick, Rowan, etc.
The game started with us having only thirteen players. Steve Olsen had gotten mad in the previous game and decided he wasn't playing. Tsunami played a lot of zone on us in the first half. I guess they thought our inexperience would hurt us. I remember being impressed as they changed their zone configuration mid-play. As a newcomer to Nationals they were the kind of team that I aspired to play with someday. The first half went back and forth with us holding onto a small lead. The only play I remember from the first half was Bret Bond throwing a goal to me from his knees in the middle of the Tsunami cup.
Second half is pretty much the same but we are wearing down. Our small squad is starting to slow down against their deep and talented team. The game is pretty much back and forth and eventually is tied at sixteen. By this time our field has been completely encircled with players and fans coming to watch the game. Going for the last point one of the Condor players told me that we needed to finish this game for everyone there.
Tsunami pulls and we are working it up the field. A huck goes up downfield into a crowd of players. Pat " Bagger" Lee and Rowan go up for the sky, these guys were and still are two of the best leapers around. Bagger catches, Rowan takes it away, and Terry Fowler takes it from Rowan. Bagger and Rowan both call strip. Both calls are disputed and it looks like we are in for an argument. I was standing next to Rick Geyer and he tells me that we're not giving them the call and they're not giving the call to us so we should probably just send it back to the thrower. A few seconds later this is exactly what happens. Play resumes and we work it downfield and are about fifteen yards from the endzone. Brad Westmoreland has the disc for Texas Heat and the count is getting high; with about one second left he throws a prayers into the endzone and out of nowhere Heat's Jimmy Deline makes a soccer goalie dive for the score and win. We go crazy, the crowd cheers, it was fantastic. I have a great picture of our team by the scoreboard after that game.
Tsunami went on to win it all in 1988 with one of our players Brad Westmoreland playing a big role on their team.
Was it the biggest upset, I'm not sure; but it was the biggest I have been a part of.