Ross’ competition team has strong showing

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Members of the Ross Taekwondo Academy’s Fighting Tigers Competition Team competed in the Hartselle Karate Championship Saturday, claiming a total of 18 trophies on the day.

“I think last time we brought home 18 trophies and this time we brought home 18 trophies. We had a couple not go because of the weather,” Jay Russell said of the competition team, which sent eight members to Hartselle Saturday as opposed to the 10 it sent a year ago. “Considering the numbers, we actually did a little better this time.”

Ronda Russell, women’s black belt, took first place in the weapons division and open hand forms and finished second in competitive sparring.

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Jay Russell, men’s black belt, took first place in continuous fighting, second in sparring and fourth in open hand forms.

Elizabeth Etheridge, who competed in the women’s beginning category, finished in the top spot in open hand forms, competitive sparring and continuous fighting.

Haley Etheridge competed in the junior black belts category and took second place in competitive sparring.

Jackson Morrison, who competed in the 10-11-year-old intermediate division, took second place in competitive sparring.

Hannah Rankin competed in the 10-11-year-old division and took third place in open hand forms.

Brett Schroeder, a 7-year-old intermediate competitor, took first place in extreme forms, second place in open hand forms and third place in competitive sparring.

Aexzundria Abrams, a 6-year-old beginning competitor, took first place in extreme forms, open hand forms and competitive sparring.

While Jay Russell was pleased with all of the competitors, he noted being especially impressed by the success Schroeder and Abrams found in the extreme forms competitions.

“It was not easy because we don’t have a lot of experience with it. We do more traditional martial arts and we don’t do a lot of gymnastics and stuff,” Jay Russell said of the extreme forms competitions, which combine martial arts with gymnastics into a routine set to music. “We put together some forms for them and they both won.”

According to Jay Russell, 6-year-old Abrams came up with a great deal of her routine on her own.

“She did a lot of coming up with that form herself,” Russell said. “I give all the credit to the kids because they were both really nervous about competing in something we’ve never done before. They really went out and performed like pros.”

The event, hosted by Robert Clairday and the Alabama Karate Circuit, was the second of six AKC events in which the Fighting Tigers will compete this year.

Jay Russell is the reigning state champion in the continuous fighting competition and, two events in, finds himself in position to potentially repeat.

“If I can keep my training up like I’ve been doing, I feel like I’ve got a great shot at another state championship,” he said. The continuous fighting competition pits competitors against one another and scores them based upon the number and quality of punches and kicks they are able to land in a two-minute span. Jay Russell credits his wife, Ronda, and her cardio kickboxing class for helping him build the endurance necessary to remain competitive in the events.

“She’s really gotten me in shape for it and gotten my cardio up to be able to do it,” he said.

The team will compete again later this month.

“We’ve got another on on April 18 in Huntsville,” Russell said. “It’s open for anybody to compete. I know people from at least 20 different schools that compete in these events. Whoever has the most points at the end of the year gets the championship in that division. We’ve had a great start. We’re looking to repeat several state championships and we’re vying for several new state championships. “