CALUMET - Sunday at the 55th International Frisbee Tournament, Guts followers witnessed the celebration of an old dynasty and the potential crowning of a new one.
The Appleton Assassins saved their best performance of the tournament for last, dismantling the 32-year-old legend Cupola Bandits 21-6, 21-6 in a best of three championship match, displaying overwhelming power and athletic defense to claim the $2,000 prize.
It will be the last stop ever at the IFT for former-champs Cupola, who are on their "farewell tour" retiring after this year.
Appleton's Mike Toll makes a diving catch as teammate Alex Tews (7) backs him up and John Luedke (center) and Josh Tews look on. Appleton won both sets of the championship match 21-6. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
But the Guts Frisbee world should be hearing plenty about the Assassins - compiled of Brian Tews and sons Alex and Josh, John Luedke, Mike Toll, Ben Nommeoson and Tim Trauger - in the future.
"We have entered three tournaments so far this year - in Illinois, Appleton, (Wis.) and here - and won all three," ace thrower Alex Tews said. "It has been a pretty good start to the year.
"But 21-6 is probably the best we have every played in our life."
During the final match at Agassiz Field in Calumet, Alex Tews seemed nearly untouchable, whipping the disc with (seeming) ease by the Cupola defense.
After the match, Alex provided numeric evidence to just how hard he was throwing it, firing one frisbee at 136 kilometers per hour (84.5 miles per hour) - a new world record with that type of disc, according to Guts Hall of Fame curator Dennis Walikainen.
"I have no clue how that happened," Alex said. "Lots and lots of practice really."
A long (estimated) six-foot-five, Tews strikes an imposing figure - in the spirit of Guts exaggeration, like a young Randy Johnson on the mound- when he glides up to the line to throw. About three feet before his release, Tews spins one time to add whip to the backhand, a move he was shown by a veteran of the U.S. national team.
Not once on the day was his throw caught cleanly, and it only occasionally was tipped into a catch.
"I don't really have (a routine), it is kind of about feel really," Alex Tews said. "I just make sure I stay loose and am ready to go.
"No one caught it cleanly today. On some tip-ups yeah, but no one caught it straight."
And while Alex Tews and teammate Luedke score consistently with blazing throws, the most impressive performance came from the dominant defense.
One-handed catch after catch - negating any points given in the volleyball-like scoring rules Guts employs - were recorded, as frequent tip-ups of the oncoming frisbee were converged on by multiple Assassin teammates.
Several times two teammates would catch the frisbee at once, pinning it between themselves.
"We practice that all the time," Alex said of the twice-a-week four-hour practices the Assassins utilize. "Sometimes we are out there sun-up to sun-down."
Afterward at the victory ceremony, the Assassins participated in a tradition as old as Guts - drinking some beer from the Julius T. Nachazel Trophy, four feet tall when attached to its wooden base.
"Oh that is beautiful," Toll commented when the trophy was brought out.
Following the Assassins and Cupola, Marquette's O'Malley's Alley took third, Blame the Dog finished fourth, Riding High took fifth and Disc Connected claimed sixth place in the 16 team competition.
Bruce Richardson was presented the Jon Davis Spirit of Guts Award and Bill DePetro was crowned MVP by player and fan voting.
Richardson took the opportunity to thank the Copper Country for graciously hosting the many Guts teams.
"I appreciate it. We all appreciate it," Richardson said. "You guys bust your butt up here to make it a great experience."