Nationals start today. I thought several times about making predictions, but the theme for this year’s competition has been parity so any predictions will end up being wrong one way or another. Enjoy the action and follow Skyd’s coverage.

All-Region Headturners

The All-Region team has yet to be announced, but here are seven players that caught the attention of Ozark Ultimate this year.

Evan Winograd (Washington University) — Evan is a big part of Contra’s success this year. Make no mistake, the Joe MacDonald pickup really helped, but MacDonald suffered from ankle injuries most of the year. Winograd is not only a team leader, but is also a good defender and deep threat. It is a shame an injury kept him off the field on Sunday at regionals.

Will Driscoll (Texas) — This TUFF player is a major role player for Texas, and often gets the pleasure of shutting down the other team’s stud. Driscoll is also a fluid player on the field, moving from handler to deep receiver with ease. Texas’s coach Calvin Lin says of Driscoll, “He is huge for us, especially in the air.”

Pat Shriwise (Kansas State) — The Huckstables do not have their breakout season without Shriwise. The senior captain handled, cut, pulled, and got d’s all season long. Without Shriwise, Kansas State gets clobbered by Florida, loses to the University of Washington (WA), and gives Texas much less trouble. “That guy is incredible,” said Washington University (StL) captain Dan Lin.

Mike Rice (Oklahoma) — Rice is the angry old hairy man from Oklahoma. He is the epitome of an Ape of Wrath. Despite these features Rice is actually a humble guy who does not like the lime light. Throughout 2011 Rice has been a major component of the Apes and many times led the team in scoring and assists. During semifinal several Colorado players were heard discussing if Rice was the deep threat or the main handler. The answer is yes.

Nick Spiva (Colorado College) — No other team that qualified for nationals relies on one player as heavily as Colorado College does on Spiva. Wasabi relies on him to be their coach, team leader and all-star. Although he shows some weaknesses in defensive coverage, Spiva is an offensive stud. Despite being held relatively in check by Colorado in the finals, Spiva still managed to throw six assists and score one point.

Tyler Samuel (Harding) — Apocalypse may have one of the shortest rotations in the entire nation, routinely playing just nine players in an entire game. A large part of their defense success is from captain Tyler Samuel. At one point in the Division III South Central Conference Tournament, he got eight d’s in one point. Ignoring the fact that Harding’s handlers turn the disc over a lot with questionable throws makes this even more impressive. And yes, this is the same guy who gave North Texas problems at regionals in 2009 and helped defeat Texas at regionals in 2010.

Jimmy Mickle (Colorado) — Most players are a cutter or a handler. Mickle could be on this list just for his pulling ability. During much of the weekend at South Central Regionals players from all teams continually pulled the disc out the side or back leading to many bricks. Mickle, however, was consistent throughout the tournament, putting disc after disc in-play in the end zone. He is also a pretty good defender too.

There you have it: players who made an impression this year. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or complete, but merely a vignette of the best players from the South Central Region in 2011. Feel free to list other players who have excelled this year in the comments.