Walking into the Saturday eliminations was the first challenge since the room was packed and it was hard to get through the large crowd of spectators and competitors. The junior black belt divisions had great numbers with up to 10 or more in many of the divisions, especially traditional forms. Twins Anisha and Shanael Trappier continued their excellent debut in the 16-17 girls division with 1st and 2nd place wins in sparring. The two went nearly undefeated in 2010 as 14-15 year olds and are starting strong in 2011 with no losses so far.
Austin Cowan had an event to remember as he won a tough 16-17 boys short point sparring division. His final fight was against Carson Price and included a near knock-out side kick by Cowan. One of the better fights of the division was between Price and James Pore that nearly ended in a full brawl. Price finished that fight with a 10-8 score but lost to Cowan in the final match 5-9. Cowan had to hurry from the sparring ring over to the weapons grand championships where he won the 14-17 boys traditional weapons grand championship title to match his sparring win.
Saturday also included the tricks elimination as one of our favorite Yeti’s – Vince Johnson – showed up to run the event. The Intermediate competition came down to two girls who beat out all the male challengers with their spins and flips. After three rounds, it was Andrea Flemings who was crowned the winner. In the black belt competition, two teams advanced to the stage after some fun competition in the team tricks battle. The kids team of Mackensi Emory, Danny Etkin, Alex Patterson and Jacob Pinto made it through round one and had to face the formidable and infamous Jefferson Lewis III and Will Coneys to see who would advance to the stage. This battle was pretty hilarious as the kids threw their best stuff while Lewis and Coneys clearly enjoyed the challenge. Lewis and Coneys advanced and will face the team of Micah Karns, Nelson Zuniga, Tyler Powell and Cody Sanders in the finals.
Men’s fighting may not have included every top fighter on the circuit but there were plenty of people who wanted the Amerikick title with good numbers in most of the divisions. Ross Levine did his thing and was crowned the men’s heavyweight grand champion. In the lighter weights, Robbie Lavoie won his super lightweight division and demonstrated some great kicking ability in doing so. However, Lavoie was stopped in the grand championship round as Kodaq Wray defeated him 10-5 to win the lightweight grand championship title.
Jason Bourelly is now an old man (with a cute kid too!) – he won the 30-39 men’s sparring grand championship and took the third spot on the stage for the men’s sparring finals. The middleweight competition was probably the most fierce. Joe Boone, who was featured in a Damon Gilbert interview from Compete Nationals, won the light middleweight division. A great fight between Sam Simeon and Apollo Thompson ended the middleweight division as Thompson took the 8-4 win. In the middleweight grand championship, Boone was able to gain and keep the lead as he defeated Thompson 11-7 for his first trip to the stage. Levine and Wray will face each other and Boone and Bourelly will fight in the semi-finals on stage.
The traditional “Parade of Champions” opened the Amerikick finals as underbelt winners were recognized on stage with their awards. The evenings performances opened with the Amerikick Delran Demo Team – the Amerikick black belt demo team champions. The crowd was treated to an energetic performance as the kids from Delran flipped, kicked and yelled their way across the stage to the delight of parents and spectators.
Team competition continued as the winners of the Synchronized Team competition – Caitlin Dechelle and Marc Canonizado – executed their high flying routine. They were followed by Amerikick Dream Team – from Ross Levine’s school in Brooklyn, New York. The Dream Team kids have been dominating the Amerikick demo scene since their debut and they just keep getting better with a dramatic and well choreographed performance that had the crowd mesmerized. The audience was treated to extreme cuteness next as the Little Dragon demo team from Amerikick Brooklyn took the stage. These little guys showed everyone their kicks, punches, weapons’ skills and breaking talent. The 5 and 6 year olds were the winners out of nearly 25 demo teams that competed on Friday night.
It was time for some fighting next with the women’s point sparring run offs on the stage. Gina Thornton faced Kris Pilgrim in the first round. Pilgrim took the defensive route working her defensive punches and side kicks while Thornton attacked. The strategy worked for awhile but Thornton finally got her rhythm. A side kick to Pilgrim’s head was all Thornton needed to take an 8-4 lead and keep it to move on to the final round.
Kelsey Friedland and Marie Eve-Dicaire were the second fight for the semi-finals for the women. Eve-Dicaire was the defending champion as she took the win in 2010. Friedlander’s excellent kicking ability and aggressive style was met with Eve-Dicaire’s measured defensive ability. An angled ax kick by Friedlander tied the score and knocked Eve-Dicaire’s helmet askew. Undaunted, Eve-Dicaire used her impressive reverse punch to score continuous single points that gave her an 8-4 win and put her into the finals.
It was a twins battle in the junior team sparring fights. Team Straight Up faced Team Next Level. Straight Up fielded Sammy Shalon and twins Anisha and Shanael Trappier while Next Level’s line up was twins Lamar and Luther Gillespie and Kyle Kunzinger. Shaneal opened for Straight Up against Lamar Gillespie. The score after this round was 7-2 in favor of Straight Up. Anisha was up next and her team was hoping she would be as successful as her sister in this match. She faced twin Luther Gillespie. This Next Level twin was a bit more difficult for Anisha as Luther took a 5-0 lead. Anisha made sure that Luther would not forget her as she round kicked him in the head to earn her first 2 points. A fall by Luther got her another point and the match ended 5-3 keeping Straight Up in the lead with an 10-7 lead. The final fight was between Shalon and Kunzinger. Shalon was coming off a win in the 16-17 boys tall point sparring division earlier in the day and he was ready to bring it in the night time finals. This was a low scoring match with Kunzinger on the attack and Shalon trying to hold onto his team’s lead. When time ran out, the match score was 5-2 in favor of Shalon and Straight Up would take the win with a 15-9 team score.
It was back to forms and weapons next as the 13 and under forms overall grand championships was run. We mentioned Cody Sanders in yesterday’s article and he was on stage tonight as the representative of the 13 and under boys CMX forms grand championships. His clean performance looked great. Following Sanders was Lady Jade Miles, a young woman who is gaining strength and thus improving dramatically as she gets older. She was the 13 and under girls’ CMX forms grand champion. One of the sweetest little kids on the circuit took the stage with his ferocious traditional performance as Danny Etkin put on his mean face and did his routine. The final challenger was Amanda Chen, also performing a traditional routine. Chen’s intensity was the winning trick as she was crowned the winner.
Mackensi Emory, Jasmine Kitterman, Cole Eckert and Micah Karns were the juniors vying for the 14-17 forms overall grand champion title. Cole Eckert removed his gi top for the finals, revealing that his obsession with Jimmy John’s has not caused him to gain any body fat. His traditional performance started out the competition. Kitterman showed no nerves in her first appearance on stage with her traditional form. Karns seemed to not spend much time on the ground in his performance as he was airborne with his acrobatic tricks. The final competitor was Emory with her musical performance. The judges loved Karns and he was crowned the overall winner.
Amerikick Brooklyn was on stage again for the underbelt demo team performance. The teams from the Brooklyn school won nearly all the special Amerikick demo team divisions. Apparently the strict diet, four-a-day training regimen and awesome instruction by Ross Levine and Alex Davydov is paying off for the school. The kids were beasts.
Caitlin Dechelle, Becca Ross and Olivia Wicker are three names you heard often when they were juniors and three names that continue to be heard repeatedly in the adult women’s divisions. The three battled twice for the evening, first in the women’s overall forms grand championship. Wicker and Ross were the traditional forms winners while Dechelle completely dominated in the creative, musical and extreme forms divisions. The judges were all over the board tonight with each competitor receiving at least one 9.99 but it was Dechelle with the most 9.99s and she took the title this evening.
Kyle Montagna’s move to the adult divisions continues to suit him well with an appearance on stage in the men’s forms grand championship. He performed his Japanese routine well, but not well enough to defeat the other two competitors, Marc Canonizado and Jarrett Leiker. Canonizado and Leiker had nearly identical scores after Canonizado’s extreme performance and Leiker’s Korean performance. After adding the scores, it was Leiker with the win by 1/100th of a point.
The men’s sparring semi-finals were highly anticipated as New Yorkers Ross Levine, the defending champion, and Kodaq Wray opened the semi-finals matches. With a ton of students in the audience, Levine wanted to be sure that he came out ahead. As the match wore on, a late hit by Wray caused the match to nearly turn into a true fight as Levine diffused the situation by executing a grappling takedown much to everyone’s surprise. Although Wray scored a final point at the buzzer, Levine finished the match ahead with a 5-4 score. Little Joe Boone, in his first tournament as a Team Straight Up member, faced Jason Bourelly of Team All Stars in the next fight. As Bourelly’s students, wife and baby looked on, Bourelly got on the board first and went on to win 6-2 setting up a final match between Bourelly and Levine.
Marie Eve-Dicaire (pictured at right) was working to get her second Amerikick grand
champion title in as many years as she faced Gina Thornton in the finals. An active Thornton took the lead early but the calm consistency of Eve-Dicaire allowed her to work her way back to a lead and a win as she became the two year champion with an 8-5 score.
Christine Bannon-Rodrigues and Mike Sautner were inducted into the Amerikick Hall of Fame just prior to the Adult Traditional Challenge demonstrations by David Muhammad and winner Jarrett Leiker. The Youth Traditional Challenge winner was Shahin Jahan-vash. Drew Derrick-Bisbee was the 30 and over forms grand championship and Eric Tremblay won the 30 and over weapons grand championship.
The crowd went wild as the team tricking competition was announced. Team Titans – Micah Karns, Nelson Zuniga, Cody Sanders and Tyler Power faced Team DMZ – Jefferson Lewis III and Will Coneys. When the competition started, the stage exploded with bodies flipping and twisting. After round one, the Titans were ahead and continued to dominate the stage. Lewis and Coneys needed to throw themselves in and take some space to pull ahead. Lewis cleared some space by tricking the Titan boys right into the corner but the questions was – was it enough? No! The judges gave the Titans the vote after the second round making them the winners. One more round was in store despite the Titans win and the crowd was treated to some more innovation from the teams.
The junior weapons competition was next in the line-up. Sammy Smith, Jake Presley, Jackson Rudolph and newcomer Gloria Vawter were all up for the title. The flashy nunchucks of Sammy Smith opened the competition with little Vawter’s traditional bo right behind. Presley looked strong with his traditional bo but the dramatic entry and performance of Jackson Rudolph were unstoppable as he won hands down.
Adult weapons began with the women taking the stage. Olivia Wicker was back with a traditional bo routine. Caitlin Dechelle was the the next competitor with an extreme sword performance. Who was the third competitor? Becca Ross, of course. She presented a musical bo routine to the audience. Ross seemed extra-inspired considering she is a member of Team Amerikick and the tournament is her home event. Dechelle would not go home with a second $1000 prize. Instead, the judges chose Ross for the title and prize for the evening. Ross, received her grand championship trophy and prize with thoughts of happiness, puppies and cotton candy running through her head!
Austin Cowan was first to perform in the youth 14-17 weapons overall championship. He was intense with his traditional bo. Stephanie Figueroa was a double winner with the 14-17 girls traditional and CMX titles under her belt during the day time eliminations. She chose to perform her extreme sword routine in the finals. The final competitor of the evening was Reid Presley – Jake Presley’s older brother. Presley needed no music as he laid out his creative bo routine for the judges. Presley needed no music as the judges chose him for the title this evening.
Marc Canonizado had another chance at a title in the men’s overall weapons grand championship. He faced Stephen Grasz and, again, his evening nemesis Jarrett Leiker. Canonizado’s aero dynamic mohawk help him balance for his tricks as he performed his extreme sword routine. Grasz brought a different perspective to the sword as he executed a traditional sword performance. Trained by Armando Anselmo, Grasz displayed similar intensity in his routine. An accidental mistake wherein his sword got caught in his hakima eliminated Grasz from the winner’s circle. The final competitor was Leiker, hoping for a second grand champion title for the evening with his traditional bo. It was not to be for Leiker as Canonizado won by a narrow victory.
We were hoping that Levine might try a few judo throws on Bourelly as the final competitors came to the stage for the men’s sparring grand championship fight. We weren’t so lucky but the fight was quite entertaining. Levine and Bourelly spent time measuring each other as they tried to figure out the best strategy for attack. Bourelly scored first and quickly followed his scoring hand technique with a 2-point kick. Levine started his comeback, scoring two points. After that, it was a point exchange with Levine tying the score at 4 after which, Bourelly landed a beautiful head kick to score two points just before the buzzer. Wearing his SportMartialArts.com sticker, Bourelly was crowned the winner with a 6-4 score (see main photo).
With that, the event concluded and it was time for the official Amerikick party to begin! Everyone headed back to the tournament hotel for an entertaining finish to the evening. Watch for a new 1-2 Watch selection, Best Pick Videos and lots of photos from the 2011 Amerikick Internationals. How did the SportMartialArts.com reporters feel about this event? We like!