Oregon's Ultimate Champions
Three weeks before the Oregon Ducks claimed the men’s and women’s NCAA track and field titles earlier this year, another UO team won a national championship—and just like the Ducks who call Hayward Field home, this team is also the latest iteration of a bona fide dynasty.
Oregon Fugue, the UO’s women’s ultimate team, won its third national championship in six years on May 26, defeating Stanford 13-11 on a blustery Milwaukee afternoon. Despite having won every encounter against the Superfly last season, the result was far from a given—the team from Palo Alto had won seven championships and appeared in twelve finals in the last twenty years.
Fugue played into a wind gusting above 20 miles per hour in the first half, and trailed 8-7 at halftime. With the wind at their backs they opened the second half on a 3-0 run though, and behind a strong performance by Olivia Bartuff, eventually claimed the championship over their conference rivals.
“It was incredible,” said UO sophomore Hope Zima. “We were expected to win, and nobody really cheers for the one-seed. This is what we worked for all season long; we had practices at 6:00 a.m. all spring, and every time we were on the field it was for nationals, for that final game, so to win it was really incredible. I felt as soon as we stepped on the field that we were going to win.”
Fugue went 39-2 during the 2015 season, and in the 2015 USA Ultimate Division I Women’s College Championship took down Victoria, Dartmouth, Central Florida, and Florida State in pool play, before overcoming Notre Dame in the quarterfinals and the University of British Columbia in the semifinals.
Three members of the Oregon Fugue team—Bartuff, Bethany Kaylor, and Jesse Shofner—made the All-Tournament Starting Seven.
The win over Stanford was vindication for Fugue, who lost to Ohio State in last year’s national championship game.
“It was played in Cincinnati, so it was almost like a home field for them,” Zima said.
Despite not being a fully-fledged varsity sport, ultimate still demands a lot of its participating athletes. During the season, the players spend 10 hours practicing, and a further five in the weight room lifting or doing agility and track workouts. While the competitive season runs throughout the spring, the entire fall is spent playing in tournaments and bringing new faces up to speed.
“There’s no previous playing requirement; we’ll teach people,” said Zima. “The people who like it stick around, and we’ll figure it out from there.
“We have 20 girls this year, but it’s usually between 20 and 23. The whole fall is a tryout process, and we make cuts right before winter break and have our team for the rest of the year.”
While the women entered the national championships overwhelming favorites to win, ranked No. 1 in the nation, the men—Oregon Ego—limped in as the No. 15 seed with just 15 healthy players. Undeterred, they fought their way to their own title game, but fell 15-6 to the University of North Carolina.