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Frisbee team wins U.S. title

By: Joan Jakel

Nov. 4, 2006

Four area men have spun, flipped, backhanded and hucked their way into the record books after competing in the Ultimate Frisbee Association’s national championships Oct. 26-29 in Sarasota, Fla.

South Tempe resident Jack Smith is a captain of the Ultimate Frisbee Masters Ironwood team. Russ Trotter, also a Tempe resident, is a co-captain. 

Ultimate Frisbee is played on a 70-by-30-yard field, and each team's goal is to advance the disc into its end zone with a series of passes upfield to teammates.

Running while in possession of the disc is prohibited, and the sport is non-contact. Each team fields seven players at once.

The local team’s goal was to revitalize itself after taking a break from competition last year with newly eligible masters players—competitors 33 years and older--while utilizing key veterans to help guide and lead the team.

The team faced tough competition from local open teams in Phoenix and Tucson during early weeks of the season, as well as challenging results at early out-of-state tournaments such as the Colorado Cup in Denver.

However, as their athleticism improved and a core group of players began to bond, the team began looking up.

They had a challenging initial day at the Cooler Classic in Wisconsin, but the final day of the tournament set the stage for the rest of the season. They played at the regional tournament, which was held in north Scottsdale, and suffered their only loss to the then-national champion ultimate masters team, Old and In the Way from Colorado. 

The team placed second, which gave them a spot to play in the Sarasota competition.

Ironwood made it to the quarter finals before losing to the Number 1 Seed in the Tournament, Old and In the Way. Ironwood ended up placing seventh in the nation in the masters division. 

Kyrene Corridor players, in addition to Smith and Trotter, were Chris Gutman and Tom Polakis.
Ironwood was the story of the masters division. Never had a team done so well as bottom seed. They worked so hard within the tournament to become a better team and made constant adjustments to each situation. Even the games they lost were positives in the learning curve for them. The leaders of this team stayed positive and the players stayed with the plan all the way. Ironwood got beat by Above and Beyond first, then forgot about it and moved on.

They played Rust in the last game of the pool and just put it on Rust. They were up 7-2 and played awesome all game. Iron was a machine by the end of the game. They won going away 15-6. Ironwood, bottom of their pool, took fourth and made the quarters. It was a really impressive job by the whole team.


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