Guts legacy keeps on giving

By Michael Bleach

CALUMET – It remains to be seen whether or not a new legacy will be created Saturday and Sunday at the 56th Annual Coca-Cola International Frisbee Tournament at Agassiz Field in Calumet.

It is already certain, however, that it was legacy that brought the reigning IFT champion Appleton Assassins and three-time past victors Boomtown Saints to Calumet this weekend.

Guts frisbee continues to succeed in the U.P. and throughout the midwest thanks to the oldest of traditions. A father played decades ago – having the time of his life getting frisbees hurled at him with speeds over 80 miles per hour – and wants his son to continue in his footsteps.

So father and son (or sons, plural) form a team, invite a few friends – and before you know it are touring the country competing in Guts tournaments annually.

For the Appleton Assassins, it was dad Brian Tews bringing sons Alex and Josh along. For the Boomtown Saints, Mark Banghart brought his children Mike, Jeff and Dan into the fold.

And legacy begets legacy.

“We have a lot of luck with the sons of guys who have already played it,” Guts Hall of Fame curator Dennis Walikainen said. “Because at the outset it sounds kind of crazy. Frisbees are coming at you 80 miles or more and you can only use one hand. But as we always say, if you catch one, you are hooked. Then the kids bring their friends along and form a team. I see it happen that way all the time.”

With four IFT titles between them, and a handful of other wins around the country, the Assassins and Saints may be adding a chapter to a brewing rivalry to go with their legacies if the two favorites meet in the finals Sunday.

Boomtown last won the Julius T. Nachazel Cup in 2011 before the Assassins dominated the field last year with an overwhelming game of power throws and athletic defense.

“Boomtown was pretty much the dominant team until last year when Appleton won the IFT and a bunch of other tournaments,” Walikainen said. “But Boomtown did beat Appleton on the way to one finals. You should see those two teams beating up people here.”

Along with the favorites, there will be several local flavors to pay attention to.

Luigi’s Bar and Keweenaw Mountain Lodge – perhaps the youngest team in the field – will show off the youth from the Copper Country while the veteran team Monte Carlo is well capable of upsetting the competition.

“There are a couple local teams, who are very good,” Walikainen said. “Monte Carlo is a veteran local team with real chance. Luigi’s boasts a good group of guys as well. If they get on a roll they can beat some teams. There really is a strong local contention. Fans coming should look for one of those teams to root on.”

Along with the team competition, Alex Tews from Appleton has a chance to make history at the IFT – again.

Last years, Tews set a world record for the fastest throw with a Professional Model Frisbee, touching 87.5 miles per hour on the radar gun, only to have his accomplishment bested two weeks later by an individual from Japan.

Tews will be set to give it another go this time with his eyes set on 90 MPH.

“That is real exciting,” Walikainen said. “We think we have a real chance to take the record back again.”