The Minnesota RollerGirls broke through heavy competition to take second in the Women's Flat-Track Derby Association (WFTDA) North Central Regionals. Over three days of derby against four opponents, Saint Paul's MNRG shattered the expectations of players and spectators alike and qualified to play in Chicago at WFTDA's Championship Tournament.
WFTDA's leagues ranked the Minnesota RollerGirls seventh in July amidst a field of nineteen eligible leagues throughout the Midwest. As a top ten league, WFTDA's governing body invited the MNRG All-Stars to compete in Green Bay at their annual tournament. The top three teams emerging from this tournament would qualify to play for the WFTDA championship in November.
The Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars arrived in Green Bay on the tenth and played early against the short-handed Omaha Rollergirls All-Stars (ranked 10th) to qualify for the quarter-finals, defeating the Nebraskans by more than a 3-1 ratio (144-41).
Their next opponent - the Detroit Derby Girls - proved to be a much more difficult challenge. Detroit had last met Minnesota at regionals in 2007 and upset the then-dominant MNRG road team by sending them out of tournament contention in the first round. Detroit's 2010 team - a hard-hitting team with advantages in both speed and size over the Minnesota players - took an early lead. Minnesota put their most nimble, stable players as jammers (scoring players) to find holes in the defense and battled their way back to a 19-point win (118-99) against a shocked Detroit.
Minnesota likewise made a comeback and a win against the Dairyland Dolls of Madison, WI semi-finals. Madison's more agile packs gave the Dolls an initial advantage over Minnesota's wall-building strategy. However, a change in jammer rotation late in the first period brought MNRG players in to score that could barrel through Madison's softer defensive line - giving the Saint Paul team a 74-17 scoring advantage over the middle 30 minutes of the hour-long bout. As the final jam of the bout ended (final score 119-107), the MNRG team collapsed with joy on the track. With the semi-final victory, the MNRG qualified for the championship tournament without needing to face another opponent (Madison would eventually take the third spot, defeating the Black Sheep of Cincinnati in the consolation bout.) They also qualified to play for the honor of tournament champions.
In the Regional championship bout, the MNRG All-Stars played and ultimately failed against the two-year champions, the Windy City Rollers of Chicago, IL. The Rollers' scoring unit trounced Minnesota's weaker rear defense, while Minnesota's own jammers could not cope with a pack able to block at the rapid pace of Minnesota's best jammers. Chicago defeated Minnesota 132-83.
The Minnesota RollerGirls open their home season at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul, MN on Saturday, October 16th. The MNRG All-Stars will travel to the WFTDA championship in Chicago, IL (hosted by the Windy City Rollers) and begin a weekend of tournament play on Friday, November 5th for the chance to earn flat track derby's highest honor; raising the Hydra trophy. Their first opponent has yet to be determined.
A full report of this amazing weekend - from first whistle to after-party PBRs - will be available soon. In the meantime, please join us in congratulating our Minnesota All-Stars! Tickets are available for the WFTDA championship at http://www.uproaronthelakeshore.com/. We hope to see you there!