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Flag-football regional tournament this weekend

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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For the almost 200 men’s flag-football teams at the UI, most of their seasons ended either before or during the playoffs. But for three UI teams, including last year’s champion UISC and this year’s All-University champion Favre’s Favorites, and 17 other local teams, there is still one more chance at winning big.

Recreational Services is hosting the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association regional flag-football tournament, which will start tonight and continue through Saturday at the Hawkeye Recreation Fields.

It is the university’s fourth-consecutive year hosting the regional, which is not an easy feat.

“It’s kind of like the Olympics,” said Mike Widen, the associate director of intramural sports. “We apply to host the tournament, and then [the association] select sites to hold it at within each specific region.”

The tournament will showcase 20 men’s teams and three women’s teams. The winners of each division will earn a trip to the national championships, held at the University of South Florida in Tampa on Jan. 3-5, 2010. Recreational Services will also pay the squads’ $400-$450 entry fee as well.

The weekend tournament is one of eight regionals nationwide.

“Anyone can buy their way into the national tournament,” said intramural supervisor Dan Payne. “But it’s a lot more expensive to play [without winning a regional].”

This weekend’s tournament will likely be competitive despite the disparity between the sizes of many of the schools represented. Aside from the three UI men’s teams, smaller schools, such as Upper Iowa and Truman State will also send squads. Other Division-I schools representing the state of Iowa will be Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake University.

The state of Illinois will send two teams as well — the first- and second-place finishers in its statewide flag-football tournament. Among the representatives will be Augustana College’s Amish Mafia squad, which defeated this weekend’s other participating group, Illinois State’s Monstars, in the state finals.

Payne said those watching the tournament should expect to see a level of flag-football play equal to that of the top flight in UI intramural sports.

“On average, the regionals are more competitive,” he said. “But if you compare that to the All-U finals here at Iowa, the competitiveness is about the same.”

Widen agreed about the level of play to be seen at the Hawkeye Recreation Fields.

“It’s right at that, if not a little bit better,” he said. “Most of the schools are sending their championship teams or some of their best. We have top teams from all over the region, and they come here to play.”

But some of the UI teams disagree, confident in their abilities against smaller schools.

UISC won the regional the last two years, along with a national championship in 2007. At the beginning of the season, team members felt they had an easy time last year but let the second-place team go to the national tournament because UISC could not afford another trip to Florida.

“The team that went [to nationals last year] was from Drake, and they lost to the second-place team at nationals by six points,” UISC captain Reed McManigal said in September. “And we mercy-ruled them twice.”


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