Cosmo Park hosts national ultimate frisbee tournament

Teams from across the country came to Columbia for ultimate frisbee.
Columbia's Benjamin Gross lays out at the Missouri Loves Company tournament in the match against the University of Iowa on Sunday at Cosmopolitan Recreation Area. Missouri was undefeated the first day of the tournament but took 15th place overall after losing to Iowa and Kansas.

It’s freezing cold, overcast and 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Finally time for that long, deserved sleep-in. Right?

Not for the MUtants, MU's traveling men's ultimate frisbee team, and 54 other ultimate teams.

On Saturday, teams from around the nation gathered for the Missouri Loves Company tournament on Cosmo Park’s two fields. This tournament draws men’s and women’s teams from Florida to Colorado and is one of the largest and most intense tournaments in the Midwest.

“This is pretty much the highest-level ultimate frisbee you’re going to see in the college division,” tournament director Nathaniel Mahieu said. “Seeing the best ultimate in the nation played here in Columbia is pretty cool.”

Missouri Loves Company might just be the perfect name for the tournament — more than 1,200 players gathered in frigid, cloudy conditions Saturday.

“It's fate to have bad weather,” said senior Jennifer Nadler, a member of terrorMizzou, the women’s ultimate team. “This weekend is notorious for bad weather. We have never had good weather. But this year? It’s not raining, so that’s good weather.”

Players dress with the cold in mind, sporting everything from multiple layers and tasseled hats to blankets on the sidelines.

“Hand warmers have been helping out,” senior MUtants player Michael Pilarski said. “Putting a coat on, on and off the field, moving on the sidelines. Just getting pumped to be out here -- I mean, the intensity of the game has been very strong so far.”

Pilarski said matches throughout the weekend were intense, and players were excited to perform.

“No matter if you’re the highest seed or the lowest seed, it’s the most competition you’re going to have all day long,” sophomore MUtants player Steven Stallis said. “It’s going to be competitive. Everyone’s going to be fighting for it.”

As teams battled up and down the field, Nadler said the decision for Columbia to host the tournament was a nice change of pace for local players.

“It’s just really cool to host a tournament here, because we travel every weekend for hours and hours, but this weekend we get to host people and meet all the teams,” she said. “It’s only 15 minutes away, and our friends can come watch.”

One fan, Diane Handler, drove four hours from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, just to see her son play.

“It’s an extremely fast-paced game, but if you stay involved in the game, you don’t notice how cold it is,” Handler said.

MUtants went undefeated Saturday and finished the tournament 5-3, with terrorMizzou going 1-5.

“We’re improving with every tournament, and our program’s going to build,” freshman terrorMizzou player Katarina Sostaric said.

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