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Ross team takes 13 medals at NAGA event

Ross Martial Arts took 10 competitors to and brought home 13 medals from the Georgia State Grappling Championships earlier this month.

“They had a blast,” Ross Martial Arts instructor Jay Russell said of a day that was made possible through the help of the Fitz-Gerald Clinic and Genesis Rehab. “I think they were a little stunned when we went in because there were a lot of big schools competing there.”

Russell and the students from Ross encountered combatants from across the South during the event, which was sanctioned by the North American Grappling Association.

Among them were students from Gracie Barra, a chain Jiu Jitsu school operated by the Gracie brothers. Russell said some teams, such as Gracie Barra, had as many as 50 members in the Jonesboro, Ga. event.

“It was hot in a gymnasium in Jonesboro, Ga. with no air conditioning,” Russell said. “It’s a well run, very organized circuit. There were probably 500 to 600 competitors there. We started at 10 a.m. and we didn’t finish until 5:30 that evening. When we left, there were some people still competing.”

Of the 10 competitors from the Demopolis school, eight placed Top 4 in at least one of their respective events.

“Even the guys who didn’t place, they gave it their all. They put on extremely impressive performances,” Russell said. “They all gave it everything they had. I was very impressed. “I knew that we had some good grapplers going. We trained really hard for it. I knew we were going to do well, but I really did not expect us to come home with 13 medals, especially considering the size of some of the competition we were against.”

One of the team’s youngest competitors, Brett Schroeder, led the way for the team. He took first place in the Children’s 70-79 Pound Novice No-Gi category before being elevated to the Beginner classification for the No-Gi competition. Schroeder also took first place in that event.

Russell took first place in the Intermediate Lightweight No-Gi division before being elevated up two weight classes and one division for the Gi grappling competition, where he finished third.

Rhonda Russell took first place in the Women’s Featherweight No-Gi and third place in the Women’s Featherweight Gi category.

Mackenzie Dill took second place in the Children’s 120-129 pound Novice No-Gi and first place in the Children’s 120-129 pound Novice Gi.

Jacob Dill finished second in the Teen Middleweight Novice No-Gi competition and first place in the Teen Middleweight Novice Gi group.

Jarius Rembert took second place in the Novice Super Heavyweight No-Gi and second place in the Novice Super Heavyweight Gi.

Daniel Alexander finished second place in the Intermediate Featherweight No-Gi competition and fourth place in the Featherweight Intermediate Gi tournament.

Chad Wright was fourth place in the Beginner Lightweight Gi. Hunter Wells and Robbie Grey also competed in NAGA action for the first time.

“We encourage competition because it helps them see the bigger picture,” Russell said. “We grapple against each other. We’re in a small town in Alabama. You ask yourself ‘How good am I? How quick am I learning?’ When you go to these huge tournaments like this and you’re grappling against people from schools all over the country, you get that question answered really quick.”