MILWAUKEE, WI–Ohio is a prime example of hard work paying off. In 2011, they played 17 games before they entered playoffs as the 10th seed and came out 9th. The following year they played 21 games, entered playoffs as the 5th seed, and finished 4th.
This year, after playing 20 games, they finally punched their ticket to Champs with a 2nd place finish in Fort Wayne. Captain Phoenix Bunz recognized their busy schedule as a factor in their improvement. “We like to play and if we aren’t playing, we are practicing, so it’s not like we are getting time off. And when you are preparing for awesome events like Play-offs or Championships, burnout is pushed aside by focus, drive and excitement.”
As an original member of the WFTDA, Ohio has kept a strong core of skaters through the years but the league is very small and their game day rosters even smaller: in Fort Wayne, 10 skaters saw track time against Arch Rival and 11 against Montreal. The team takes the track with their best skaters and they aim to win. “We try to balance that with getting all skaters some game experience and opportunities to to develop, but our team’s overriding goal was winning and getting us to Champs.” And it’s clear Bunz and her team’s strategy has worked, because now they will be sharing the track with the best teams in the world.
Ohio’s busy 2013 season started as a winning spring with some solid victories over mid-level and lower ranked D1 teams. In their first trip to Milwaukee this year, they went 1-1 at BrewHaHa, winning by 323 points against Pikes Peak and losing by 238 against the strong Minnesota RollerGirls. Their last loss before playoffs was a strong showing against Philly, only losing by 25 points, giving them a 15-5 record.
Despite the demise of the location-based tournament system this year, Ohio still met regional foe Arch Rival on day one of the Fort Wayne playoffs. They took two wins over Arch Rival last year–including one which knocked ARRG out of the running for 2012 Champs. In a brutal fight this past May, Arch Rival sought revenge and took a 179-108 victory over a scrambling Ohio. In Fort Wayne, Ohio had a slow start, letting Arch think it would be another notch in their belts. After a 68 point deficit 20 minutes into the first half, the Smacktivist clawed Ohio back into the game with 62 points over two jams. Ohio took advantage of penalty riddled Arch and rallied to a 218-166 victory.
Another upset against Montreal the following day put them up against Denver for the final bout and while Ohio had a good early run against the Mile High Club, staying in the game for the first 25 minutes, they were roundly trounced in the final analysis. The side put up just a handful of points in the face of two 80+-point runs by Denver, finding themselves in a 90-point hole at half-time en route to a 304-134 loss.
Flat Track Stats has no predicted winner for Ohio’s Championship debut versus Rat City- there is a 50/50 chance either team will prevail and WFTDA rankings currently place them three spots apart. Phoenix Bunz has proven to lead her pack, whether wearing the star or the stripe, into solid performances, and blockers Loraine Acid, Bratislava Bruiser and Ava Tarr will likely be able to draw penalties on Rat’s jammers. A solid rotation of Bunz and Smack with the star, backed up by Outa My Wayman and Pippi Ripyourstickings, seems a recipe for solid competition against the ladies from Seattle.
This weekend will also be the final hurrah for the versatile Phoenix Bunz and Pippi Ripyourstockings. Bunz is extremely proud to see her team make it this far. “Champs was always the goal–often a lofty one–and as a skater I wasn’t sure I’d be around to see the day we qualified. So to qualify for the first time in our league’s history is the ultimate capstone.” No matter how they perform this weekend, it will no doubt be a cherry on top of those two skaters’ careers.
Ohio Roller Girls All Stars
125 Paige Bleed // 10 Outa My Wayman // 1098 Amy Spears // 1101 Ava Tarr // 12 Kitty Liquorbottom // 138 Pearl Rogi // 19 Texas Chainsaw Sasskicker // 1993 Bratislava Bruiser // 216 Kill Basa // 23 Phoenix Bunz // 365 The Smacktivist // 451 Burnadeath // 5150 Pippi Ripyourstockings // 5459 HellionBoi // 59 Loraine Acid // 815 Bigg Rigg // C4 TactiGal // V0LT Elektra Magneto // ICU2 Ena Flash
An earlier version of this article stated that Ohio finished 3rd at Fort Wayne. They finished 2nd and the article has been corrected. DNN regrets the error.