The 2013 Diamond Nationals, held October 4-5, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota was an incredible event for some of the top competitors in the world – and for some new faces. One of the longest running, best known and best organized sport karate events in the world, the 2013 Diamond Nationals did not disappoint. The event was run efficiently, the participation numbers were the highest in years and the best in the sport were in attendance.
SportMartialArts.com helped get those top competitor’s faces in front of their fans with an autograph table featuring top sport karate fighters. The table was jam-packed during each autograph session. Fighters like Chelsey Nash, Morgan Plowden, Ross Levine, Lawrence “Kodaq” Wray and Jack Felton were able to shake hands and sign autographs for hundreds.
In men’s team sparring, the fighting was fierce. Trevor Nash made a surprise appearance, wearing an All Star uniform. He helped his team out in men’s teams and showed that he’s still got a little of his mean streak in him as he pushed Elias Lemon out of the ring on an exchange. It was All Stars versus Team Paul Mitchell 2 for the final match in teams. All Stars led with Jamal Albini who faced Paul Mitchell’s Laszlo Gombos in round one. The two ended with a tie.
In the second round, Trevor Nash faced Zsolt Moradi in the first of two important fights between these men for the weekend. Nash’s sister, Chelsey Nash, is a member of Paul Mitchell which meant she had quite the dilemma as to who to root for. Moradi ended the fight up by six. Jack Felton was All Stars’ anchor and he faced Cass Sigmon in the final round. Felton mounted an amazing comeback and was up 5-1 with 30 seconds to go. Sigmon twisted his knee and went down with an injury with 3 second left while Felton was up 8-1. Felton held on to his lead to give All Stars the men’s team sparring victory. Sigmon ended up severely injuring his knee in competition at the Diamonds and being sidelined the rest of the event and going home to wait for surgery and rehab.
The day time competition on Saturday whittled the field down to those who would go to stage for the finals and those who would watch from the audience. Although he would not perform on stage, Mike Welch of Infinity Martial Arts in Wisconsin won the 30 and over Diamond Ring for forms and weapons. Welch also led his Team Infinity demo team to a win in demo team competition and a chance to perform on the Diamond National’s stage in the finals.
Trevor Nash advanced as the 30 and over men’s fighting champion and moved on to set up a rematch with Zsolt Moradi for the men’s sparring diamond ring. This would be the first time two non-Americans would battle for the diamond ring at the Diamond Nationals.
Of note, the Diamond Nationals inducted two great martial artists into the Hall of Fame. Scott Masterton – a Minnesota martial artist who has been a huge supporter of the Diamond Nationals over the years was one. The other, Richard Plowden, an icon of the sport and now father to two of the top competitors in the sport. Congratulations to both.
It was all about growing up for little Danny Etkin. After years of domination in the 13 & under category, the Diamond Nationals was his final event in 13 & under – and he decided to go out in style. He first won the 13 & under forms overall title. He went right back up on stage later in the evening and won the 13 & under weapons title as well. It was quite the way to finish and leave his mark. In 2014 he will move up and start all over again with the tough 14-17 crowd.
In the 14-17 category, Keenan Carr of California and Team AKA did what he always does – worked hard. It paid off this evening as he was awarded the forms overall grand championship – his first ever. Winning the title at Diamond Nationals is certainly a great way to explode into the grand championship scene. In the 14-17 weapons category, Jackson Rudolph left nothing to chance with his bo routine. His green bo flashed strong and he accepted the junior diamond ring for his performance.
Rudolph was back again in synchronized teams alongside Paul Mitchell teammate Kyle Montagna. Their big challengers were Cole and Reid Presley of Team AKA with the Presleys doing a double bo routine. The crowd loved the Presleys and the judges also found them to be the favorites as Cole and Reid took home the synchronized team title for the evening.
The adult forms and weapons finals were historic and amazing. Caitlin Dechelle has been dominating in the women’s competition all year. She started the evening winning the women’s weapons grands and earning her fifth diamond ring but her very first one in weapons. Dechelle was not satisfied with just one win and went on to win an unprecedented second ring for the night and sixth ring for her collection as she toppled all challengers to take the women’s forms title.
In men’s weapons, Austin Jorgensen had the crowd going mad for his soft-style performance. In fact, the crowd appeared that it might riot if Jorgensen did not get the win. The judges agreed with the crowd this evening and Joregensen received the ring. In men’s forms. the competition was strong with Austin Crain, Michael Guthrie and Kyle Montagna all as part of the field. But it was the unorthodox soft style of Sen Gao, which included falling into the splits and literally bouncing off the floor, that garnered the title this evening. And Sen Gao made it even more fun by using his new diamond ring to propose to his fiancé on stage!
In the fighting competition, Morgan Plowden and Rae Lynn Perkins were the final two for women’s fighting. The two went at it fiercely. Perkins has great kicks and attempted to keep Plowden at bay with her long legs. At one point, Plowden was kicked into the stage railing and injured her collar bone but ended up scoring two points in the exchange. When the buzzer rang it was Plowden up by two to win her first Diamond Ring.
Trevor Nash and Zsolt Moradi faced off for the men’s sparring title and diamond ring. In their previous fight, Moradi had ended up the winner with a significant point margin. Nash was not having that this evening. Twice Nash punched or ran Moradi into a side judge, one time the judge even went right off the stage. However, Moradi’s legs kept him in the game and in the end, it was Moradi with the win making him the first European to go home with a diamond ring.
Nash was not done yet, however, because the men’s Superfights were still left for battle.Trevor Nash and Dejuan Brown advanced to the heavyweight Superfight finals after round one on stage. For the lightweights, Jack Felton and Hamed Firouzi were set to battle for the title.
Nash and Brown had a hard hitting match which ended at the buzzer with Brown up by one. However, in Superfights, you must win by two points so it was time for sudden victory overtime. Nash went into machine mode and scored three straight points in overtime to defeat Brown and take home another Superfight victory to the Nash household. Felton versus Firouzi was a rematch between two quick and smart fighters. Felton was able to stay ahead of the game and away from Firouzi’s hands which led to Felton getting the win and another lightweight Superfight title for his trophy room.
Like a precious gem, the 2013 Diamond Nationals was full of shine and deep with talent. Competitors and spectators were treated to sport karate at its finest.