By Brandon Borges
Derek Brantingham and his teammates at Miami University, after years of effort and building up one of the greatest programs in quidditch today, reached the pinnacle of the Great Lakes region when Sam Rapnicki pulled the snitch against the Central Michigan Centaurs, cementing their rise to the top with the coveted 2018 Great Lakes regional championship. MU realized their potential at Bloomington, going 8-1 and defeating teams including the University of Michigan and Central Michigan University on their way to the top. To see beloved regional coordinator and Miami alumni Matt Dwyer crown the team as champions was the cherry on top of the greatest Sunday for this team yet.
“It was just nice to see work pay off and the joy on everyone’s face,” said Brantingham. “It was surreal to see how far the team has come over the last few years and to see someone like Sam pull the snitch after working so hard for 4 years.”
Miami won this championship boasting some of the best players this region has to offer. Hayden McClarry, with his iconic shorts, has blossomed into one of quidditch’s best, an unstoppable driver with the quaffle the core of his talents and Miami’s offense when he is in. His presence demands the attention of the defense, which allows for his equally talented co-star Rapnicki to either bully his way inside for a dunk or shoot a slick shot with his amazing size and one of the most accurate arms you have seen. Ashley Stanke and Amanda Bleichrodt play so well off of those two, always in perfect position for a quick catch-and-dunk, and getting in opposing players faces as an off-ball defender. Dustin Hadley, one of the newest members of the team, is a ferocious and fast defender and will be an amazing piece for the team moving forward. Paolo Federico-O’Murchu and Elena McDonald lead a talented beater line as well, constantly allowing for strong drives.
What makes MU such an amazing team is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This team knows each other so well, constantly working off each other on offense and defense and remaining one unit through win and loss. “Our team is fun and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Life and college can be tough, but we always have each other’s backs,” said Brantingham. “People like Sam Rapnicki, Paolo Frederico, Ashley Stahnke, and Elena McDonald have been leading our team for a while now with their humble style of aggressive play and their desire to improve. Quidditch has six players on the pitch for most of the game and we use all of those players intentionally as part of our gameplan.” MU reminds anyone who watches them of the core of team sports is “team,” and to see that attitude at the top of our region does us proud.
Miami was not always the juggernaut they are today. Back in the 2016-2017 season, the team was solid with great potential, but potential doesn’t show up in the win/loss columns. MU harnessed what they had and became one of the greatest programs in the Great Lakes region, with aspirations to make themselves known as one of the greatest in the whole nation. “We revamped how we play and evolved with our new players and strategies,” Brantingham said. “We’ve always been a competitive and inclusive team and we got pretty lucky recruiting some outstanding players and friends. We all saw what we could be and worked hard to get where are now.” The crown they earned is deserved, and all eyes should be on this team at US Cup 12 as they look to show just how good the Great Lakes region can be.