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Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio A different kind of March madness is kicking off today at The University of Utah. Some people say it's the most competitive tournament of its kind in history.
Ladies and gentleman, make some noise for your Utah Scorpions!
The Utah Scorpions, the state's premier team in quad rugby, or, as it has become known, Murderball. The national playoffs are starting soon and the Mountain Sectional Tournament is being held in Salt Lake City. Brandon May, Utah Scorpions ball handler, said, "Basically, it's a combination of volleyball, basketball, a little bit of soccer and some hockey involved."
Apparently a bit of "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" is mixed in as well. By the way, the players are partially paralyzed and in specialized wheelchairs plated in aluminum. "You're passing it back and forth, much like basketball trying to hit the open man," May told KSL Newsradio. "To score, you carry it on your lap across the goal line."
May says players are moving at full speed, crashing into each other, and if someone gets flipped or knocked out of their chair, so be it. "I flipped two players in practice two weeks ago during our scrimmaging," May said. I flipped a guy in Tucson really hard."
Teams from six different cities are coming to play in the tournament. The top two teams go to the National Championships in Louisville, KY. Tournament Organizer Tim Daynes said, "These are competitive athletes as the ones you watch on TV. You like hitting, you like smashing, you like people getting hit hard and stopped and in your face kind of stuff. Murderball, that's what it's all about."
Daynes says you've never heard a crash quite like a Murderball crash. He says there's going to be big hits and flips and blood and it's just going to be awesome. "The craziest trash talking that went on is when I played ward basketball, but, wheelchair sports have got that. It's like Dennis Rodman on speed," Daynes said.
Daynes says playing in the tournament are the defending champs, The Phoenix Heat, along with The Pasadena Texans, The San Antonio Ruff Riders and, The Denver Harlequins.
When asked what kind of wimpy name ‘The Denver Harlequins' is, Daynes said, "I wish these guys were listening because we don't like Denver."
The first match for The Scorpions is against The Texas Stampede with their big man Mark Zupan. Yes, that's right. The Mark Zupan.