Locals will compete in grappling tourney

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ross Martial Arts will take a team of 10 developing combatants to Jonesboro, Ga. Friday, July 8 to compete in the Georgia State Grappling Championships. The event, which will take place July 9, marks the first time Ross has taken a full team to a North American Grappling Association event.

The Demopolis school’s connection with NAGA began in February when Ross instructor Jay Russell and student Daniel Alexander traveled to Riverdale to compete in the U.S. National Championships. Since that time, the school has seen its students’ interest in grappling continue to rise.

“The interest in submission grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has grown steadily with the popularity of mixed martial arts,” Russell said. “We’ve been slowly growing our Jiu-Jitsu program over the last two years. We went not to win, but to check it out and did really, really well.”

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Russell said that the success of Ross members at February’s NAGA event has led other students in the school to try their hand in the nation’s preeminent grappling association.

“As far as grappling, NAGA is the major event we go to,” Russell said. “It is the largest grappling organization in the country. It is a little more expensive than some of our other events, but you pay for a high level of competition. You encounter MMA fighters, you encounter wrestlers.”

For Alexander, this go-round presents a new challenge as he will try to cut weight in order move down to the featherweight class.

“He really wants to win this time and we really want him to win,” Russell said.

Ross Martial Arts’ team will place competitors in a variety of divisions when it weighs in Friday.

“It will start with the junior division. We’ve got a nine-year-old, Brett Schroeder. McKenzie Dill, she’s 10. Those are our youngest two competitors,” Russell said.

Ross will also see 17-year-old Jacob Dill, 18-year-olds Jarious Rembert and Chad Wright and 19-year-old Hunter Wells compete along with Alexander and Rhonda Russell. Jay Russell will move to a new division after celebrating his 40th birthday.

“I’ll be competing in the executive men’s intermediate division,” Russell said.

Expectations for the crew of young grapplers are modest heading into the event, but Russell is hopeful his students will broaden their perspectives of the sport of grappling.

“I’m hoping to get some wins,” Russell said, “but I’m hoping to see the bigger picture to it. I hope they see there are a lot of young men the same age into the same thing. We get used to rolling around with each other. At NAGA, they’ll face some of the best grapplers around and, hopefully, will get a good idea of where they stand.”