(31) Ohio To Kick Off Season 11 against (56) Ann Arbor
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(31) Ohio To Kick Off Season 11 against (56) Ann Arbor

Ohio Roller Derby starts their campaign for a sixth straight postseason berth this weekend as they welcome the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes to Columbus for the 2016 season opener. Ohio, currently ranked #31 in the world according to the most recent WFTDA rankings release, has never played Ann Arbor prior to this season. The Ann Arbor Brawlstars, currently ranked #56, have simply been shooting up the rankings over the past season. To give you an idea of their upward trajectory, the Brawlstars were ranked #85 at the beginning of the 2015 season. Currently at #56, Ann Arbor already qualifies for the Division II playoffs as long as they stay in the top 60. Jumping 29 places in the rankings over a twelve month period is a testament to the talent that is on the Brawlstar squad.

Much of the Ann Arbor roster is still intact from last season, meaning they haven’t had to worry about transfers or retirements. A main reason for their rise in rank is the fact that they have a very deep bench. Ann Arbor uses a five jammer rotation, and all five are capable of putting up a lot of points on the board. Fans of derby making their way out to the bout this weekend can expect to hear the names Lezzie Arnaz, Bex, Slamuel L. Jackson, Terror Misu, and Track Magic as they will all likely take turns wearing the jammer star. Since the roster didn’t have a lot of changeover from last season, the defensive core of the Brawlstars is expected to be even better than they were in 2015. Anchoring the blocking scheme will be Lethal, Fracture Mechanics, Michelle O’Bomb Ya, and Slamlet. Also making regular rotations in the pack for the Brawlstars will be Dr. Maims U, Jacky O’Bashes, Strawberries N Scream, and Jadzia Smax.

Last season, Ann Arbor went 12-3 in sanctioned play with key victories over Cincinnati, DC, Burning River, Grand Raggidy, North Star, and Killamazoo. Over the course of the season, the Brawlstars played in three multi-bout weekend tournaments, including the Big O in Eugene (OR), Midwest Brewhaha in Milwaukee (WI), and the Mitten Kitten Mashup in Michigan. Conversely, Ohio Roller Derby went 13-9 in 2015, with key victories over Charm City, Toronto, Nashville, Naptown, Windy City, and Rideau Valley.

With the postseason retirements of Ena Flash, HellionBOI, and Amy Spears, Ohio Roller Derby has had to fill multiple vacancies with new transfer skaters and graduates from Gang Green. Making their debut for Ohio’s charter team will be Betty T. Kayo, a transfer skater from the D.C. Rollergirls, and Blitz Lemon, who is now a member of the charter team. Ohio will also look to skaters Val Holla, Stevie Brown (formerly Slammerhead), and KloverKill to add quality playing time as they each have a full season of charter team competition under their belts.

Following the Ohio Roller Derby and Ann Arbor Brawlstars bout, Ohio’s Gang Green will take on the Arbor Bruising Co., the reserve squad for Ann Arbor. Making their debut for Gang Green will be Kruel-Aid, a transfer skater from Chemical Valley, and Bruss Knuckles. Longtime fans of Ohio Roller Derby will also get to see the return of Foxy Force, an original skater for Ohio back in the earlier years of the league. Tickets are going quickly and the bout is likely to be sold out by Saturday afternoon. To ensure you get to see Ohio kick off their 2016 campaign, get your tickets ahead of time at http://www.ohiorollerderby.net.

Photos by Joe Mac

Andrew Marron