The New England Open Saturday eliminations started bright and early and progressed at an awesome pace. From start to finish, there was action everywhere. The local KRANE judges stepped up and ran the underbelt divisions brilliantly, getting all the underbelt competition completed by 1:00 p.m. The black belt divisions, including the special WAKO and continuous sparring competition, were completed by 3:00 p.m. leaving a record amount of time for everyone to prepare for the nighttime finals.
Creative and traditional forms and weapons along with point sparring competition was on the list for competitors. Matt Emig continued to clean up with wins in creative weapons and creative forms as well as both men’s extreme forms and weapons run offs during the day. Dallas Liu was on fire with more wins and he took the 13 & under boys creative/musical/extreme (CMX) and traditional weapons grand championship titles.
The 30 and over competitors rarely get mentioned but they provide great performances and are the ones who have paved the way for today’s youth. Drew Derrick Bisbee was the 30 and over weapons grand champion. Local competitor, Gary Card, who has an impeccable traditional routine won the 30 and over forms grand championship title.
The sparring competition was fierce and hard hitting as competitors battled for supremacy. In the women’s competition, Marissa Mayer showed up and, after not having competed for awhile, managed to make it to the stage. She will face Canadian Chelsey Nash for the title. Mayer and Nash have a long history in the ring having been in the 16-17 girls division with each other for many years. Back in those days, Mayer typically dominated the fights – in the finals tonight, Nash would have her chance to avenge herself as an adult.
In the men’s sparring divisions, the superlight and lightweight divisions were fast and furious. After a tough rematch against Joe Fife, Hamed Firouzi emerged the winner of the men’s super lightweight division. Robbie Lavoie blasted his way through challengers to win the lightweight competition. Chris Walker dominated Joe Boone and then narrowly defeated Damian Rodriguez (Rodriguez came back from a 5-0 deficit to lose by one point). Walker went on to face Samuel Gagnon of Canada, the middleweight winner, for the middleweight grand champion title and won. Firouzi defeated Lavoie for the lightweight grand championship.
Ross Levine had no trouble winning the men’s heavyweight division. He waited around to see who would face him for the grand champion title as the men’s light heavyweights lined up. The heavyweights involved a rematch between Jason Grenier and Raymond Daniels, the two fighters who brought us great entertainment in the men’s team sparring competition on Friday night. This time, although Grenier was willing, he was left wanting as Daniels took the win and moved on to face Levine. In this match up, it was Daniels winning again – on a mission after his Friday night loss. Daniels went on to defeat another Full Circle member, Hamed Firouzi, as Daniels advanced to the stage to face Walker.
And, as all the competition ended and we were leaving the competition arena, Kyle Richards walked in. He had flown all the way from California but plane trouble caused him to arrive too late to compete. In addition, his iPod battery had died, rendering him incapable of fighting. Instead, he entertained us with his grace and personality and invited us all to an evening of clubbing at Applebee’s.
It was a packed house for the New England Open finals. The event opened with the SportMartialArts.com New England Open Sampler and jumped right into a demo by Team 100% Performance. Even though Team 100% had already won during the daytime, they still put on a strong show for the crowd. In fact, Team 100% Performance took all multi-person divisional wins with Vincent Scarduzio and Jess Goldman winning the synchronized team competition as well. Scarduzio and Goldman delighted the crowd with a demonstration of their winning routine later in the evening.
The competition started with the 13 and under youth weapons overall grand championships. Sammy Smith started it out with her nunchuck performance and she was followed by little Dallas Liu who was having the tournament of a lifetime but a drop at the end took him out of the competition. The traditional competition was represented by Amanda Chen and her traditional bo routine. In the end it was Chen with her first win of the evening.
The 14-17 youth forms grand championships started with Sarah Calande and her traditional performance. Calande was good but she was followed by Micah Karns who is unstoppable. After Karns flipped his way across the stage, Mackensi Emory realized she would have to be completely on in order to win. She looked stronger than ever with her tricks; not missing a beat. Two judges gave the win to Emory but it was Karns who had the majority of the votes for the win.
Women’s weapons was next on the agenda as Becca Ross and Caitlin Dechelle took the stage. MC Vince Johnson found Ross’ performance nearly biblical. Dechelle and her sword left nothing to chance as she sliced through all her imaginary competitors with a powerful performance. The scores were incredibly close and it was Dechelle who managed to make it to the podium.
Kyle Montagna started the men’s forms grand championships with his traditional form performance. He was followed by Matt Emig who was, simply, amazing. The final competitor was Mickey Lee. Lee’s smooth moves were well received by the crowd and he finished his performance with strength and grace to the very appreciative audience. The judges were split but the majority gave the win to Lee to the crowd’s delight.
The fighting action started next with the junior continuous team sparring competition. Little Nasem and TJ of Hammides Academy faced Javier and Tay of Team Straight Up. The kids were so tiny, we almost couldn’t see them but they fought big on stage. Despite their diminutive sizes, TJ and Javier almost knocked each other off the stage a few times. The crowd loved every minute of it as the kids were cheered loudly. Javier won the first match.
In the second round, Tay was off the line and on Nasem like nobody’s business. Nasem stayed in it and the match nearly turned into an MMA championship as the two had to be physically pulled apart at every break and found themselves on the floor often. The crowd was laughing hysterically as the two went non-stop with their oversized gloves. In the end, Tay was declared the winner of this mini-Gladiator round while Javier danced on the sidelines and TJ and Nasem threw aerials and splits. These four 6-year-olds provided tons of entertainment and are the future of the sport.
The 13 and under forms championships started with Danny Etkin and his extreme performance. Etkin was red-hot and looked very strong. Amanda Chen was back for the second time with her traditional Japanese performance. Chen was incredibly precise with her routine. The final challenger was Sammy Smith – back again and this time with an extreme performance. Smith made the division harder for the judges. The judges were all over the board with scores and in the end, it would be Chen’s traditional performance that would take the championship title for her second win of the night.
Stephanie Figueroa led off the 14-17 weapons grand championships with her extreme sword routine. Figueroa shows why she is a top competitor in her division with her clean tricks and strong strikes. The boys’ traditional weapons slot was represented by Cole Eckert and his bo. He poured his heart and soul into the performance and was followed by Jasmine Kitterman and her traditional routine. Kitterman is just starting to make a name for herself in competition. With good lines and powerful strikes, she looked great on stage and she demonstrated some amazing kicking ability. The final competitor was Micah Karns with his bo in hand and sideburns on cheeks. He didn’t bother with music and managed to silence the chattering crowd with his amazing bo tricks – and then made the crowd gasp in amazement. There were no doubts for the judges as Karns walked/flipped away with the title.
Women’s sparring would be a big rematch as Chelsey Nash faced youth rival Marissa Mayer for the title. Mayer, who has been absent from the ring for a few years faced the seasoned Nash. Nash was patient and methodically scored her points one at a time, finding herself up 5 to 0 with only a few seconds left. One more point was scored by Nash and Nash was crowned the winner. The question is – will Mayer take this back to the training gym and return to the ring for a full comeback?
As always, promoter Joe Greenhalgh had something special for the finals and the crowd was
treated to a demo from Team Straight Up that included dance, weapons, acrobatics and music. With Joey Greenhalgh and MC Vince dancing on the sidelines, the Straight Up kids provided great entertainment.
Brittany Walley of Team Straight Up performed first for the women’s forms grand championship. She demonstrated a Japanese routine to open the competition. Caitlin Dechelle was back with an extreme performance to give Walley’s traditional some contrast. Dechelle was working on her second grand championship title for the evening and was followed by the traditional Korean performance of Becca Ross. The judges were pretty clear in deciding their favorite – Dechelle as Dechelle went home with a second title for the night.
The New England Open offers a special division for kids – the Pro Divisions – where kids can win cash. The evenings Pro finalists for the 13 and under forms were Danny Etkin and Lady Jade Miles. Etkin started things off with some play as he performed his extreme routine to the music Playground. Miles took things in a different direction with her traditional routine. The judges thought Etkin was the most fun and awarded him the title.
The 14-17 year old Pro division started with Brendan Rasinski’s traditional routine followed by Mackensi Emory’s extreme performance. Rasinski had a slight stumble on a stance that the judges may not have noticed. If possible, Emory was even stronger than in her grand championship performance. Local competitor Kyle Gallagher was the final competitor in the division and he had his hometown crowd on his side. Gallagher performed a Korean routine to highlight his great kicking ability. The judges liked the extreme routine and Emory took the win with Gallagher in second.
More junior team fighting was on the agenda with an international team match between the USA and Canada. The first match was William Montpetit versus Jalen Carr – the match ended with Carr up 3-2. In the next age category, Gregory Solomon represented Canada against Jarvis Miller of Team Red Dragons. Despite his length, Miller was very quick and scored some defensive side kicks. Solomon’s great timing helped him stay in the game with blitzes and his own counters. The final score was 6-5 in favor of Miller keeping USA in the lead.
Anisha Trappier of the USA was next against Corina Balan of Canada. Balan scored first and second as the crowd chanted for their country. Trappier finally got on the board with one point but Balan continued to track Trappier around the ring, finally scoring another two points. At the buzzer, it was another point for Balan to give her a 6-2 lead and finally bring Canada back into the driver’s seat.
The big boys were next on stage with Sammy Shalon for the USA against Sammy Raymond of Canada. Salon quickly scored a two-point kick to get the USA back in the game. Raymond was not intimidated and scored his own point but the crowd was on it’s feet when a spin back kick from Shalon put Raymond on the floor. Shalon ended the match with a 10-4 lead. This gave the USA a 6 point lead going into the final match between Jessy Pronovost of Canada and Chris Garguillo of the USA. Garguillo used his size to keep Pronovost on the defensive and then used his speed to dodge Pronovost’s attack. In the end, the match score was 2-1 in favor of Pronovost but it was not enough to bring Canada back and Team USA went home with the win.
The final youth Pro divisions were up next with the weapons competition. Scott Cornelius got his chance at a title with his bo. Cornelius lost his bo on a multiple neck roll move that would have been amazing if he had been able to complete it. Jackson Rudolph did not miss a beat with his musical bo routine. Rudolph was followed by Sammy Smith who was hoping that her third time up would be the charm but an unfortunate drop left Rudolph the winner of the Pro cash this evening. Despite the drop, Cornelius was placed in second with Smith in third.
Denis Vlachos of Canada was the first up for the 14-17 Pro weapons competition with his traditional sword routine. Frank Saggal of Team Straight Up was next with his bo routine. Saggal won one of his divisions during the Friday night competition and he was hoping to bring that winning spirit to the stage. Definitely a crowd favorite, Saggal put on a fun performance. Connor Griffith was the next competitor to show off his bo skills. Griffith has come a long, long was in the past few months and he was very strong on the stage. The final competitor was Micayla Johnson – the dominate female youth (and probably adult) kama competitor on the circuit. She was intense and she hit all her tricks and caught all her kama throws. This was Connor’s evening as he was selected as the winner with Johnson in second.
Two bos, a sword and some nunchucks were next on stage for the men’s weapons overall grand championships. First it was Kyle Montagna and his musical bo routine. Montagna nearly missed a catch at the beginning of the routine but managed to hold on. However, he later lost control and dropped his bo, taking him out of the running. Mickey Lee’s soft style straight sword routine was next. Lee looked good but had a slight misstep on a move. Matt Emig was next, blazing across the stage with his nunchucks. Emig rocked his Motley Crue music with insane moves with his chucks. Ross Levine was the final competitor with a bo routine sans music. Levine’s whole face turned red with the intensity of his performance and he looked mighty sinister. The judges had their work cut out for them as they scored the competitors. It would be Matt Emig with the well-deserved title this evening.
The final competition for the evening was the men’s point sparring championships. Raymond Daniels would face teammate Chris Walker. There would be no bow out this evening as Walker was determined to overcome his larger opponent. Before the fight, Ross Levine treated us to an incredibly convincing imitation of promoter Mohamed Jahan-vash that has us wondering how Levine developed the talent. The fight was a Raymond Daniels show as Daniels enjoyed himself in the ring while Walker worked to get points. Daniels was the winner with a 4-2 score and took home the championship title to end the finals.
And with that, the New England Open was complete. Credit to MC Vince Johnson for some of the most entertaining monolog heard at an event in a long time – and he was willing to get on the stage and dance periodically. As the decorations were taken down around us, we laughed about the fun at the tournament and hung out with friends. Come Sunday, everyone would go back to reality but tonight, the tournament spirit would continue for a few more hours.