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Getting ultimate with a Sunburn

ADAM BAKER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gabe Wigtil, an environmental sciences freshman, plays Ultimate Frisbee last night at Menlo Park. Wigtil plays on the UA men's Ultimate Frisbee team, Sunburn.
By Blair Lazarus
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, December 5, 2003
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Native Tucsonan loves Ultimate Frisbee, cheap gasoline

Gabe Wigtil loves Ultimate Frisbee. He started playing two years ago almost by accident, and a one-time lunchtime recreation has turned into a serious collegiate sport.

Wigtil, an environmental sciences freshman, started playing Frisbee in the winter of his junior year at University High School in Tucson. He says a friend initially brought in a Frisbee as a boredom cure and once his group of friends started, they didn't want to stop.

Soon they were playing after school and on the weekends as well. One of the boys had a brother who played Ultimate and who turned the group onto the Tucson City League, which offered more opportunities to get involved with the sport.

Not long afterward, Wigtil and a few others were playing in the Tucson City League with adults, working on their skills and knowledge of the game. The group of friends formed a team and played in the City League, finishing with a 1-16 record, but gaining valuable experience.

When the group of about 10 friends returned for their senior year at UHS they continued their club team and played other schools, including Catalina Foothills High School as well as teams within the Tucson City League. The group learned about the National High School Championships and made reaching it their goal.

After contacting the UA's team, Wigtil's group participated in a tournament in California. UA alumna Kelly Swiryn who was the UA team's captain at the time, agreed to coach for UHS. They entered the California tournament seated in last place, but ultimately raised their status, finishing 10th out of 16 teams.

Not long after that, the team sent in a bid to try to reach their goal of playing in the National Championships, and to their surprise, it was accepted.

Just before the team, all of whom were seniors, graduated in May they went to Birmingham, Ala., to compete in the tournament. Wigtil says it was a lot of fun and a great way to finish off the year.

Now at the UA, Wigtil is involved with Sunburn, the men's Ultimate Frisbee team on campus. Sunburn competes in about 10 tournaments a year, beginning with the SoCal warm-ups in San Diego last month.

"We have won (this tournament) the past two years and are looking to repeat that," Wigtil said before the competition.

Sunburn is currently seated sixth out of 16 teams in the Southwest Region of the Ultimate Players' Association College Division. The team has around 30 members, many from the UHS team that Wigtil and his friend started. Overall, Wigtil says the team's freshman recruits have been very strong.

Although Sunburn's members have never made it to the National College Championships, they realize there is a first for everything. Scorch, the women's Ultimate Frisbee team, went to the National Championships last year. Wigtil believes they will have another strong season this year, and also have strong recruits.

When he isn't focused on Ultimate Frisbee, Wigtil is pursuing his environmental science degree and working part time at Hansen's gas station on the east side of town, where he also worked this past summer. Although he hates the drive he says Hansen's has the cheapest gas in town and "that makes it worth it."

Wigtil chose his environmental science major because he has always liked math and science, and he particularly enjoyed his Advanced Placement environmental science and Advanced Placement biology courses in high school.

Wigtil says he hopes to put his degree toward working in conservation or doing forestry work. A Tucson native, he grew up loving the desert but is ready for a change of scenery and maybe colder weather as well.

Wigtil lives north of campus with a friend. He enjoys living on his own but says there is more to worry about in terms of bills and responsibility. So far, he says he is doing very well resisting the temptation of a Tucsonan to go home all the time. He said he misses his two younger sisters the most.

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