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New name, new faces, new tournament. While Ohio Roller Derby has participated in a variety of tournaments in its 11-year history, including 6 consecutive trips to Midwest BrewHaHa in Milwaukee, the Columbus team is mixing it up with an early-season trip to Missouri for the second annual Skate to Thrill. Eight teams are each guaranteed three games during the two-day invitational, and participants include the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, Wasatch Roller Derby, Calgary Roller Derby Association, and tourney hosts St. Chux Derby Chix. Ohio’s focus will be on a trio of teams they have faced a handful of times in the past: (27) No Coast Derby Girls (Lincoln, NE), (48) Houston Roller Derby, and (40) The Chicago Outfit.

Ohio already has a leg up on their opponents, as No Coast hasn’t played a sanctioned game since D1 Playoffs in October 2015, Houston since losing to Sun State Roller Girls in September, and Chicago since D2 Playoffs in August; Ohio, on the other hand, is 2-0 for the season after a 244-139 opening win over Ann Arbor & a 312-59 blowout against Ithaca this past weekend. They also played nearly twice as many sanctioned games as their contenders last season: 23 contests to No Coast’s 12 and Houston & Chicago’s 14 apiece.

No Coast is the only team ranked higher than Ohio going into the weekend, and is also the only one of OHRD’s opponents with prior Skate to Thrill experience: they went 2-1 at last year’s tournament, beating St. Chux Derby Chix and Demolition City, but crumbling under pressure from Arch Rival. At D1 Playoffs, they had success against Queen City and Windy City, both of whom were also defeated by Ohio during regular season play. No Coast has thwarted Ohio twice previously: the Franky Panky Invitational in Tampa, FL in March 2011 saw No Coast victorious, 165-79, but they won by a much smaller margin in a rematch that July, with just 5 points determining the contest. Having recently added Omaha transfer Anna Maniac to their already strong jammer rotation of Flash Gloria, Slam Anderson, and Fancy, No Coast will likely be the biggest challenger to Ohio’s defense in the second game of the tournament.

Later in Day 1, Ohio will do-si-do with Houston, a team they’ve also played twice before. Their first matchup was also at the Franky Panky Invitational in 2011, in which Houston was victorious, but Ohio won by an 80-point margin when they faced off during the 2014 D1 Playoffs. In 2015, Houston managed to squeeze 7 out of 10 sanctioned games during their regular season into tournament weekends, coming home from the Clover Cup in March with a 3-1 record and going 2-1 at Midwest BrewHaHa in June. Dropping into D2 for playoffs last year, Houston went 1-2, losing to Santa Cruz in a rematch from BrewHaHa as well as to the previously-defeated Kansas City Roller Warriors.

The final game of the tournament will pit Ohio against The Chicago Outfit, with whom they have the most history of the three. Ohio lost to the Outfit in June 2010 and again at the 2011 BrewHaHa tournament, but beat them 164-97 at home in August 2012 and again in Chicago the following July. Of Ohio’s Skate to Thrill opponents, the Outfit also had the best win record in sanctioned play last year, coming out on top in 71% of their contests. On the flip side, their last game at the 2015 D2 Playoffs was an 83-point loss to Naptown Roller Girls, who Ohio had easily defeated just a week before.

Following the trip to Skate to Thrill, Ohio will have two weeks off before hosting Tri-City Roller Derby (Kitchener, ON, Canada) on Saturday, April 30 at the Ohio Expo Center.

Note: rankings reflect teams’ standings as of seeding for this tournament. For the latest rankings for game play through March 31, 2016, visit https://wftda.com/rankings.