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For the sixth consecutive year, the Ohio Roller Girls will travel to Milwaukee (WI) for Midwest BrewHaHa, a three day invitational featuring WFTDA charter bouts, WFTDA reserve team action, men’s roller derby (MRDA), and junior competition.  This year, the (22) Ohio Roller Girls will have their collective hands full, as they have perhaps one of the toughest schedules of any team at the event.  On Friday at 2:15 p.m., Ohio will take the track against the undefeated (18) Arch Rival Roller Girls, and on Saturday at 4:00 p.m., Ohio will play the (6) Minnesota RollerGirls.  Finally, Ohio will skate against (23) Tampa Roller Derby on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m.  Ohio will definitely be tested as they look to finish the regular season in the top 20, and avoid the dreaded #6 vs #3 seed opening round bout at playoffs.

Ohio’s first opponent this weekend, the (18) Arch Rival Roller Girls, have been on an absolute tear this season.  After picking up transfer skaters Bricktator from Bay Area Derby Girls, and Harmony Killerbruise from Minnesota, Arch appears to have found a couple of skaters who can help the squad make a push for their first ever appearance at the WFTDA Championship tournament.  With the addition of Killerbruise, and the return of Chewblocka from a year hiatus, Arch Rival’s defense has held their opponents to an average of only 83 points per bout this season.  While their defense has held their opponents to double-digits, the Arch offense has been clicking on all cylinders, scoring an average of 312 points per bout!  They’ve eclipsed the 300 point mark in five of eight bouts this season, and twice passed the 400 point barrier.  Much like Ohio, ARRG is comfortable playing multiple bouts over a short period.  Twice this season they have played three bouts over a weekend: Once at Skate to Thrill 2015 in April, then again at Spring Roll 2015 in May.  Historically, Arch Rival holds the advantage over Ohio with an overall record of 4-3 against the Columbus squad.

Ohio’s bout against the (6) Minnesota RollerGirls is considered somewhat of a mystery to many in the derby world.  Having lost a handful of their core skaters from last year’s squad, the MNRG have only played three bouts this season and have an overall record of 2-1.  They defeated a depleted (13) Windy City (Chicago) squad in April, then defeated (15) Charm City (Baltimore) in mid-May.  They then lost by 85 points to (10) Philly Roller Derby the day after their Charm City bout.  Without a large body of work this year, it’s still a mystery how good this Minnesota squad can be.  However, Minnesota is a team that seems to reload, rather than rebuild.  They have qualified for WFTDA Championships three of the last four seasons, and still remain one of the strongest defensive teams in the sport.  Ohio has never defeated Minnesota, with their most recent contest resulting in a 102-340 loss against the squad from St. Paul at the 2013 BrewHaHa competition.

Ohio’s final bout of the weekend is against the (23) Tampa Tantrums of Tampa Roller Derby.  On paper, this should be a closely contested bout as Tampa is one spot behind Ohio in the rankings.  Ohio was victorious in the only meeting between these two squads, a 273-119 win against the Tantrums in a bout that was played in Atlanta back in 2013.  Tampa features speedy jammers in Ana Cheng (formerly Apolo Ana), PhDiesel, Panty Bandit, Laryn Kill, and Little A.  The Tantrum pack took a hit recently as they’ll be without standout blocker Blaque Jac who sustained an injury this month.  With the absence of Jac, fellow core blockers Alli-Kat Scratch, Lunch Lady, and Lily the Kid will look for bench support to fill that void.  Tampa currently sits at 3-2 this season with quality wins over Houston, Oklahoma Victory, and a huge upset over (12) Atlanta three weeks ago 150-132.

The Ohio Roller Girls have already played ten bouts this season, more than Tampa and Minnesota combined, and they’re only halfway through their season.  Including their three bouts at BrewHaHa, Ohio still has nine bouts on their docket before they hit the postseason.  Currently holding a 6-4 record, Ohio is riding a two bout win streak with back to back victories over Gold Coast (FL) and Maine.  Following BrewHaHa, things won’t get much easier as Ohio still has (27) Steel City, (24) Toronto, and (35) Naptown to contend with, all of which have played Ohio closely over the past few seasons.  Anchoring Ohio’s jammer rotation continues to be The Smacktivist, with Kitty Liquorbottom, Bigg Rigg, and Lora Outa My Wayman to follow.  Ohio’s Val Holla has also seen more time with the star the last few bouts and adds another physical presence to Ohio’s rotation.

For additional information regarding Midwest BrewHaHa, check out The Brewcity Bruisers’ website at http://www.brewcitybruisers.com/midwest-brewhaha/.

Photos courtesy of John Egbert (full album here).

Andrew Marron