HANCOCK - Defending champions Blame the Dog - and Mother Nature too - threw everything they had at the Boomtown Saints in the Sunday's International Frisbee Tournament championship.
Just like the Frisbee disc, the Saints handled it well.
The Lansing-area outfit made a clean sweep of the tournament and the title match, defeating Blame the Dog 2-0 (23-21, 21-19) to lift the Julius T. Nachazel Cup.
Mike Banghart, left, and Ryan Scott of the Boomtown Saints dive for a loose disc during the championship match of the 53rd annual International Frisbee Tournament Sunday at Hancock Driving Park. The Saints won 2-0 (23-21, 21-19) to claim their second IFT title. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The championship was played in a mix of weather that bordered on the bizarre from clear and calm to a heavy downpour with strong winds. It didn't faze the Saints or Mike Banghart, who won the first Healy Family Most Valuable Player award.
"It is almost like an upper for us," he said of the adverse conditions.
From a tactical standpoint, the rain and wind made accurate throwing difficult and a clean one-person catch basically impossible, but Banghart's father Mike said the Saints were well-positioned to make adjustments, surrounding the disc as it was repeatedly tipped to ensure the vital catch.
"We move real well. When the disc is in the air, we've got everybody going to the disc," he said. "Nobody stops and watches everybody else catch the disc."
Team chemistry was not a problem for the winners, which include four Bangharts (father Mark and sons Mike, Dan and Jeff), while teammate Ryan Scott grew up across the street.
Boomtown has been a Guts contender for some time, having drank from the Nachazel Cup in 2006 and won the World tournament in Vancouver in 2008.
Mike Banghart and Scott are among the most powerful players in Guts and the rest of the squad was more than capable of complimenting their abilities.
"For Ryan Scott and I, it was power, a lot of velocity and hitting gaps. The rest of them, they're amazingly accurate throwers," Mike Banghart said.
Boomtown held the early lead in the first game, going up 8-4 among the raindrops, but the defending champs - a mix of players from all over the country - fought back to take a 19-18 lead in calmer conditions.
However, Blame the Dog 'dumped' the disc (a wild throw), which gave the Saints a tie game.
After a big Saints catch to take the 22-21 lead, Mike Banghart put game one away with a throw too hot to handle.
In the second game, the teams played relatively even early as the storm clouds gathered to the west of Hancock Driving Park.
As the cloudburst hit its peak, Boomtown expanded an 8-7 lead to 14-9. Blame the Dog chipped away at the lead, but never quite climbed back on top before Boomtown finished it off.
Blame the Dog's Dave Brown (a Marquette native and Michigan Tech alum now living in Gurnee, Ill.) said the runner-up finish was an admirable way to end its defense of the Nachazel Cup.
"We knew defending our championship was going to be extremely difficult. There were a lot of top-ranked teams and Boomtown is the best team in the world right now and losing to them isn't an embarrassment," he said.
Blame the Dog ousted top contenders Cupola Bandits and young guns Appleton Assassins on the way to the title match.
For the second year in a row, the Monte Carlo was the top local entry, but unlike its Cinderella run to the 2009 championship game, it finished well short of the finale, losing back-to-back games to Boomtown and the Assassins to be eliminated in the losers' bracket in sixth place.
Also, the inaugural Jon Davis Spirit of Guts Award was presented to Dan Thornton of Ridin' High, competing in his 40th IFT, for his sportsmanship, stellar play and focus on the fun of the game.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.