(PORTLAND, OR) The primary travel squad of St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby wanted to end their 2023 campaign on a high note and they certainly opened eyes with their collective performances at the highly-competitive Hometown Throwdown, held throughout the weekend at The Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park.
For the second straight year, the locals took home runner-up honors following Sunday’s 125-98 setback to the Rose City Rollers’ Wheels of Justice at the event’s first-place game.
Arch Rival finished the eight-team bracketed tourney 2-1 and ended the calendar year with a record of 8-2. Their pair of setbacks this season were against the Wheels of Justice (8-0), the four-time champions of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
On paper, a showdown between the top two seeds, each who sit atop their respective regions in the WFTDA, was projected. Arch Rival currently ranks first in the North American Northeast while the Wheels of Justice holds similar bragging rights in the North American West.
Arch Rival, seeded second in the tournament, easily churned their way through the bracket by picking up a 202-55 victory over the Rose City Rollers Axles of Annihilation in Friday’s quarterfinal round and then topped Victorian 202-54 in their Saturday semifinal in order to reach the Throwdown finale.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Wheels of Justice posted impressive wins over Black Diaspora (264-48) and Denver (199-105) that resulted in the side-by-side seeds tussling in the ensuing showdown.
Heading into the championship game, blocking and defense would be key. Arch Rival fielded a blocker rotation that consisted of veterans Shear-Ra Powers, LuxFurious, Cloak N’ Drag-Her, K. Woodward, Bolt Action, Splatter, dad bod, Cruella, Eirinn Go Brawl, Pork T’Choup Slamwich and SheKill O’Neal.
Rose City countered with their stellar blocking schema consisting of Mia Palau, Stan the Woman, Tarantula, Simonis, Beans, Oona Roll, Elicia Nisbet-Smith, Morgan Levy, Tenacity Remington and Trinity.
Arch Rival built a quick lead early as Swanson scored eight points in the game’s opening jam. The Wheels of Justice countered with three in the second rotation. St. Louis then gained another multi-pass strike as Bricktator posted a seven-point jam that gave ARCH an 15-3 edge at the five-minute mark.
The Wheels of Justice went on a 26-5 rally over the next three jams, resulting in a scoreboard flip. Veteran jammer Bonnie Thunders collected six in Jam 4 that sliced ARCH’s lead to 15-9. Track mate Loren Mutch posted a four-point pass on the next rotation that made the score 15-13.
Then at the 22-minute mark, Rose City collected their first power jam of the contest and quickly capitalized on momentum. Thanks to top-notch blocking, Zip churned a 16-5 output that resulted in a 29-20 lead change in favor of the host league with 20:20 left in half.
The nine-point differential was maintained as the period progressed. At midpoint, Rose City possessed a 37-28 edge.
In Jam 11, the Wheels of Justice widened the score thanks to Springroll’s 16-8 rollout that pushed Rose City’s lead to 53-36 with 12:05 left. Thunders added four in the next jam, extending the differential to 21 points.
Arch Rival responded 11 answered points. Co-captain Vicious van GoGo’s three-pointer in Jam 13 was followed by Swanson’s eight that shored the score to 57-47 with 8:40 left in the period.
Feeling the heat, Rose City went on massive 32-0 run over the next four jams. Lil RegulateHer’s two-point pass in Jam 15 was followed by Thunders’ 15-pointer that made the score 74-47 with 5:20 remining. Zip zipped four on the next spin and Springroll finished with a 11-0 power jam that widened Rose City’s lead to 89-47 with 2:30 left in the half.
Arch Rival broke their scoring drought in the period’s final jam as Van GoGo scored six. The visitors trailed 89-53 at intermission but were still within striking distance and felt optimistic.
In the early stages of the second period, both teams’ defenses really stood out and minimal points were scored overall. After six jams, Rose City maintained a 95-62 lead with 22:20 left.
The Wheels of Justice then churned a 12-0 run on the next three rotations as RegulateHer, Thunders and Mutch posted back-to-back-to-back four-point jams that pushed their lead to 107-62 with 18:10 remaining.
Refusing to wave the white flag, Arch Rival went on their most prolific scoring run of the contest – a 29-1 rally over the next five jams that quickly sliced into the deficit. Following Bricktator’s 12-point power jam recorded with 9:10 left, ARCH had slashed the score to 108-91.
Thunders and company quickly thwarted any late comeback plans by scoring seven on the next jam, which extended the Wheels of Justice’s score to 115-91 with 7:40 left.
Down the stretch, both squads posted comparable points and ARCH was unable to make a comeback. Although they outscored the Wheels of Justice in the second half, 45-36, the large deficit at halftime helped Rose City’s propel their 125-98 victory in the championship game.
Thunders topped Rose City scoring with 44 points followed by Springroll’s 35 while Arch Rival scoring was paced by Swanson’s 33 points followed by Bricktator’s 29.
Despite their setback in their final game of the season, Arch Rival did post an impressive stat. Their output marked the first time since November 2018 that the Wheels of Justice’s winning differential had been held to under 30 points.
This will be important when derby resumes global post-season play in 2024. Come next November, Rose City will be hosting the WFTDA International Championships.
And if all goes as planned, Arch Rival will be knocking at the back door, aiming to top the four-time champs and claim their first-ever Hydra Cup.
ROSE CITY WHEELS OF JUSTICE (125):Bonnie Thunders 44, Springroll 33, Zip 22, Lil RegulateHer 13, Loren Mutch 11.
ARCH RIVAL ALL STARS (98): Swanson 33, Bricktator 29, Vicious van GoGo 22, K. Woodward 8, Pork T’Choup Slamwich 4, Hart 2.
Recap constructed via online stream from the Rose City Rollers.
Also traveling with Arch Rival to Throwdown this weekend were blockers Pegasass, WyldeSyde and soup beans, jammer Jedi Knight-N-Gale and bench coaches The Saint, Code Adam and Smarty McFly.
In other action during Sunday’s placement games, fourth-seeded Denver Roller Derby’s Mile High Club claimed third place honors with a 163-141 win over third-seeded Victorian Roller Derby Lightning. Denver collected their first-ever victory over the Australians to finish 2023 with a record of 6-2.
In the fifth-place game, Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block topped Rose City’s Axles of Annihilation 195-101 to finish where they were seeded.
Finally in the weekend’s seventh-place game, Black Diaspora Roller Derby claimed a 129-125 nailbiter over Angel City Roller Derby’s Hollywood Scarlets to finish one position higher than their seed.
HOMETOWN THROWDOWN RESULTS
ARCH RIVAL 202 ROSE CITY AXLES OF ANNIHILATION 55
VICTORIAN 159 ANGEL CITY 92
DENVER 259 MONTREAL 142
ROSE CITY WHEELS OF JUSTICE 264 BLACK DIASPORA 48
ARCH RIVAL 202 VICTORIAN 54
ROSE CITY WHEELS OF JUSTICE 199 DENVER 105
ROSE CITY AXLES OF ANNIHILATION 171 ANGEL CITY 113
MONTREAL 146 BLACK DIASPORA 119
CHAMPIONSHIP: ROSE CITY WHEELS OF JUSTICE 125 ARCH RIVAL 98
THIRD PLACE: DENVER 163 VICTORIAN 141
FIFTH PLACE: MONTREAL 195 ROSE CITY AXLES OF ANNIHILATION 101
SEVENTH PLACE: BLACK DIASPORA 129 ANGEL CITY 125
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.