During the first two weekends in April, MSU\’s men\’s and women\’s ultimate frisbee teams – the Burning Couch and Infamous, respectively – hosted tournaments in East Lansing. These tournaments, called Sectionals, were the first steps toward reaching the Ultimate Players Association\’s (UPA) College Championship, held on May 25-27 in Columbus, Ohio. This photo essay chronicles their quest to be champions.

[MS1] No-preference freshman Ryan Heffernan throws a hammer during warm-ups. Heffernan is one of 10 rookies on the 22-member Burning Couch. This influx of youth is a result of the graduation of more than half of last year\’s team that placed ninth at the 2006 UPA College Championships, or Nationals.

[MS2] Members of the Burning Couch run down the field after a pull – the throw that starts each point similarly to a kickoff in football. Ultimate is played on a field that is 75 yards long and 40 yards wide with end zones that are 25 yards deep, and games are played to a certain number of points instead of to a time limit.

[MS3] Human biology junior Phil Sommer throws a backhand around his mark in the Couch\’s game against YelloWMUstard, from Western Michigan University. Sectionals is the first tournament in the UPA Championship Series, which also includes Regionals and Nationals. Eight regional champions qualify for the UPA College Championship tournament along with eight other wild card teams.

[MS4] No-preference freshman Connor Grant, bundled up for the 20-degree weather, watches his teammates from the sideline. The fast-paced game of Ultimate Frisbee allows for only seven players per team on the field at a time, so a deep bench and fresh legs are important to a team\’s success.

[MS5] From left to right, Sommer, supply chain management senior and team captain T.J. Johnson and criminal justice senior Ricky Vogelzang warm up before the Sectionals finals against the Couch\’s rivals, MagnUM from U-M. These two teams have represented the Great Lakes Region at the UPA College Championship in 2005 and 2006, tying for ninth place in both years.

[MS72] Johnson, left, and linguistics junior Kevin Stowe go up for a disc against a YelloWMUstard player. The windy and cold conditions made throwing difficult and resulted in many high-floating passes left up for grabs for several players at once.

[WS1] Members of Infamous cheer before the first game of the day against Central Michigan\’s Ultimatum. Before hosting Sectionals, Infamous had traveled around the country to tournaments in Las Vegas, Nev.; Savannah, Ga.; South Bend, Ind.; and State College, Penn.

[WS2] Journalism junior Jessica Sipperley goes up for a disc against an Ultimatum player. Because this was the only tournament held in East Lansing, many friends and family members came out to support Infamous, touting signs and cameras.

[WS3] International relations junior and team captain Jenni Schmidt follows her team in line for the post-game handshake. Schmidt usually wears number 11, but constant wear and wash has reduced her to an off-center 1.

[WS4] Marketing junior Kristi Maynard cheers on her teammates in the Sectionals finals against intrastate rivals Flywheel from U-M. The teams had played three times earlier in the season, with Infamous coming out with a 2-1 edge.

[WS5] Zoology graduate student Allison Rober passes the disc to her teammate, animal sciences junior and team captain Kim Sabo, during the game against Flywheel. Predicted to qualify for the College Championships, Flywheel proved to be too much for Infamous, and the game ended with a score of 15-2.

[WS6] The members of Infamous gather to do a final cheer after their loss to Flywheel. Although cheering in appreciation for the other team may be difficult after a loss, the teams still exchange words, in a show of respect for a well-played match.

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