Ross Martial Arts junior grappling team wins five state championships

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ross Martial Arts and Fitness Academy’s kids grappling team captured five state titles on Saturday, July 19 at the North American Grappling Association’s 2014 Georgia Championships in Riverdale, Ga.

The team of 10 competitors, ranging from age 5 to 18, brought home a total of 18 medals from the gi and no gi grappling competition hosted annually by NAGA.

Members of the Ross Martial Arts junior Brazilian jiu-jitsu team are shown with awards they won at the Georgia state championships in Atlanta in July. Shown from left to right are: first row - Dylan Russell, Braden Morgan, Brett Schroeder, Joanna Duke and Charlie Duke; second row - Bebe Ellis, Collin Morgan, Milan Wallace, Dyllon Williams and Will Cork; back row - Jay Russell, Tristen Fitz-Gerald, Hunter Compton and Ronda Russell. Not pictured is Austin Wright.

Members of the Ross Martial Arts junior Brazilian jiu-jitsu team are shown with awards they won at the Georgia state championships in Atlanta in July. Shown from left to right are: first row – Dylan Russell, Braden Morgan, Brett Schroeder, Joanna Duke and Charlie Duke; second row – Bebe Ellis, Collin Morgan, Milan Wallace, Dyllon Williams and Will Cork; back row – Jay Russell, Tristen Fitz-Gerald, Hunter Compton and Ronda Russell. Not pictured is Austin Wright.

“Usually we take a pretty big adult team to this event, but this year we had a lot of kids in our junior Brazilian jiu-jitsu program who wanted to compete,” Ross MA instructor Jay Russell said. “For many of them, it was their first time competing at such a large tournament, but they all performed like seasoned veterans.”

Russell explained that gi grappling is Brazilian jiu jitsu competition while wearing a thick uniform. During this type of combat, competitors may use the uniform to take down, pin or even submit their opponents. No gi grappling involves most of the same techniques and strategies, except competitors wear shorts and compression shirts and may not grab or use their opponents clothing.

Ross Fight Team members who captured Georgia State Championships were Brett Schroeder, expert boy’s 115-130 pound gi division; Will Cork, novice boy’s no gi and gi 100-115 pound divisions; Dyllon Williams, beginner boy’s 50-60 pound no gi division; and Austin Wright, beginner boy’s 50-60 pound gi division.

Russell said Schroeder claimed his fourth NAGA championship belt with his win in the gi division. He added that all other competitors who won first places received Georgia State Champion patches and gold medals or samurai swords.

“We were all especially proud of Tristen Fitz-Gerald,” Russell said. “Tristen was our only adult competitor for the day, and it was his first time competing in a very tough adult intermediate division. However, he helped us coach the kids all morning and then stepped up to grapple when his division was called.”

Other members of the team who placed were: Schroeder, second place in expert boy’s 115-130 pound no gi; Collin Morgan, second place in expert boy’s 90-100 pound no gi and gi; Wright, third place in beginner boy’s 50-60 pound no gi; Williams, second place in beginner boy’s 50-60 pound gi; Charlie Duke, second in beginner boy’s 40-50 pound gi and no gi; Joanna Duke, second in novice girl’s 60-70 pound gi and no gi; Braden Morgan, second in novice boy’s 50-60 pound gi and no gi; and Dylan Russell, third place in novice boy’s 40-50 pound gi and no gi divisions.

“These kids really got out on the mats and gave it all they had,” Russell said. “I’m proud of each and every one of them because they all faced their individual challenges head-on.”

The team at Ross Martial Arts Academy, located at 1014 Highway 80 East in Demopolis, will spend the next few months adding to their physical conditioning, refining techniques and competing in a few in-state grappling tournaments to prepare for the U.S. National Championships which will be held for the first time ever in Alabama on Oct. 18.