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Ready to show their Guts

National Frisbee tournament to start Saturday

The Assassins from Appleton, Wisconsin, take part in the U.S. National Guts Frisbee Tournament held Saturday and Sunday at Tourist Park in Marquette. The Assassins won the event, the fifth year in a row the team was victorious. (Photo courtesy of David Francis Daignault)

MARQUETTE — The City of Marquette was designated as a “Frisbee Sanctuary” back in 2013, and there’s a strong case to be had for that title six years later.

You have several options for disc sports in the area. Northern Michigan University students can partake in the highly-competitive Ultimate Frisbee club teams, while anyone in the community is welcome to tackle any of the six disc golf courses spread around Marquette County.

The other option around town is Guts Frisbee, and you’ll have a chance to see some of the best Guts teams from around the country this weekend with the U.S. National Guts Frisbee tournament making its way to Tourist Park once again.

Marquette has hosted the event annually since 1976, with the exception of roughly a decade-long hiatus before making its return in 2010.

Tournament organizer Kurt Lahtinen, who’s served as lead organizer for 10 years, said the public is encouraged to come down to Tourist Park to watch the action in a relaxing setting.

“It’s a fantastic spectator sport,” he said. “It’s free to the public, you can bring your lawn chairs and (food and drink) carry-ins, and sit and watch some of the greatest Frisbee players in the world.”

Guts Frisbee, said to be the original extreme sport, was originally inspired by the game of dodgeball. Similar to the classic gymnasium game, teams of up to five players line up parallel to each other on the playing field. Rather than dodging the disc, players are required to catch it cleanly with one hand.The team throwing must get the disc into the designated scoring area and if the disc misses that area, the team receiving gets the point. If a disc is caught cleanly, neither team gets a point. If a disc is caught and dropped, the throwing team gets the point. The first team to 21 points with a differential of two is the winner. Discs can be thrown upward of 80 mph and teams stand just 14 meters apart.

Lahtinen said the tournament is comprised of a 14-team field once again, starting in a round-robin format to determine which teams advance to the bracket round.

“We have 14 teams again this year, including the returning champions, the Appleton Assassins,” he said.

The Assassins have claimed tournament glory seven times, always looking like the team to beat. O’Malley’s Alley of Marquette makes its return as well though and knocked off the Assassins for the 2017 title.

The official disc used in the tournament is the Wham-O Pro Model Frisbee, which weighs 120 grams and has a nine-inch diameter, according to www.gutsfrisbee.com.

The top four teams in the tournament will receive cash payouts with the champions hoisting the Craig “Buck” Buchanan Memorial Trophy.

Festivities kick off on Friday night with a players party at the Wooden Nickel for teams who are pre-registered from 9 p.m. to Midnight. Another players party takes place at the Marquette Golf Club from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. after the first day of competition wraps up Saturday.

Rookie players and teams are also encouraged to register on Saturday morning. While there has been a small registration fee in previous years, rookie players and teams can sign up for free this year to help attract interest in the sport. Those players and teams must be present by 9 a.m. on Saturday in order to register.

For those looking to try the sport out for the first time, but may not want to compete in tournament play immediately, everyone is welcome to attend and participate in the twice-a-week practices at Tourist Park.

“You can find us on Facebook at Marquette Area Guts Frisbee,” Lahtinen said. “We have practices twice a week. We’ve been attracting a lot of Ultimate players and disc golfers, but everyone is welcome. Dates and times are posted on that Facebook page.”

Lahtinen added that major events like this one aren’t possible without a vast amount of sponsors helping out.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “We have four primary sponsors this year, the Wooden Nickel, Togo’s, U.P. Home Health and Hospice and Travel Marquette. We have numerous secondary sponsors as well.”

Competition gets underway Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs all day with a Vietnam Honor Guard officially opening the tournament at 9:30 a.m. Round-robin play starts things off with one round of bracket play taking place Saturday as well.

Action continues starting at 10 a.m. Sunday with the championship being held late in the day.

Admission is free. Bring a lawn chair and your own food and drink, though glass bottles are discouraged.

For more information, visit the US National Guts Frisbee Tournament Facebook page.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.

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