Diamonds is one of those events that people just assume you are going to. Especially in the Midwest. It’s been a staple of the Sport Karate Circuit since forever, and it’s a proving ground for some of the best around. Held in its customary location at the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, MN. The Diamond Nationals spanned Friday and Saturday, October 5th and 6th and showcased its traditional crop of excellence.
Despite the Diamond Nationals reputation, this even felt a little smaller than many in years past had. There was the same level of competition, to be sure. But the numbers just weren’t the same. However, despite the absence of some familiar faces, Diamonds exploded into action on Friday night with some fantastic CMX counterpointed with some truly powerful traditional challenge divisions offering a wonderful counterpoint. No matter where you looked, phenomenal competitors were giving it their all, and leaving everything they could out on the mat.
Saturday eliminations were smooth and consistent. In the past years, and with many large events, there is almost always a little wheel spinning in the morning to get everything rolling. Diamonds was on time and moving quickly with rings turning over and volunteers being exactly where they were supposed to be. A major topic of discussion, other than Carlos Gonzales attacking those low hanging chandeliers, was Diamond’s move to the first weekend of November next year, November 1st and 2nd, and the change in venue to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. The consensus was positive, and we’re all excited to see this event make such a positive move.
Saturday Night Finals started off with an electric performance by Team Infinity with their winning Demo Team. Team Infinity has because synonymous with excellence and their performance was an absolute confirmation as to why.
Next up was the Synchro Grands. There were two representatives of Team Paul Mitchell with Jackson Rudolph and Jake Presley vs. Danny Etkin and Aiden Considine. Both teams put on tremendous performances, but Rudolph and Presley were able to eke out the win. During the scoring, there was a minor equipment malfunction and both teams entertained the crowd while waiting for their scores.
Eric Tremblay took the 30 and over Form/Weapons Grand Champion with a fantastic sword form. He was followed by the Adult Men’s Team fights. It was a face-off between Team IMPEX and Team Paul Mitchell with IMPEX taking the win.
Caio DaSilva rocked the 13 and under Boys Forms with his traditional kata, taking the win while Isabella Nicoli took the 13 and under Girls Form with a fantastic creative form. Aiden Considine returned to the stage and won the 14-17 Boys Grands while Noelle Jellison took the 14-17 Girls Grands with her traditional style and panache.
Makenzi Emory destroyed the stage, taking both the Women’s form and weapons Grands, earning herself two Diamond Rings in the process.
Men’s Weapons was a clinic in martial arts excellence and a little humility. Jackson Rudolph dropped and did pushups for the panel as a way of recompense. Reid Presley took the stage and absolutely dominated the division, winning the grands and netting a Diamond Ring.
Esteban Tremblay took the boys 13 and under grands while Mia Lang took the girls. Connor Chasteen took to the stage for 14-17 boys weapons and wowed the crowd with a tight, and well-designed kama form, winning the grands and electrifying the crowd.
Julia Plawker took the grands for 14-17 girls weapons, wrapping up the kids form divisions for the evening and opening the stage for some great fighting.
For the Lightweight Overall Grands, Jack Felton, a previous Diamond Ring winner, faced off against James Pore, a newcomer the Diamonds stage. It was a high paced fight, Felton took the lead quickly, ending the first round with a commanding 7-1 lead. However, Pore came back into round two with some extreme motivation wand was able to tie it up with a quick backfist at 9-9. At the very last second, Pore was able to score on a kick and took the lead, ending the match 11-9! It was a great demonstration of grit, and the crowd was deafening in its support of both fighters.
It was quite the night for Team Impex, Gina Thornton and Morgan Plowden fought it out for the Women’s Overall Grands and Diamond ring. It was a demonstration in timing and clean points from both fighters. The second round finished with 8-5, Plowden.
Heavyweight Overall was Ross Levine vs. Richard Avery Plowden. The round started with Plowden taking an aggressive lead right off the bat. But Levine was able to tie it up at the last second at 5-5, ending round one. Levine came out the gate in round two with a more aggressive line. Levine and Plowden traded points until almost the last minute, with Levine tying the round up with a quick blitz and ending the round with a beautiful hook kick that put him two points ahead, finishing the round 13-11. It was phenomenal round between two great fighters, and that night it was Levine and earning his Diamond Ring.
The night finished up with Men’s Traditional and CMX. Ariel Torres, Joey Castro, and Jared Dunn battled it out for the Diamond ring. Torres was the victor, demonstrating beautiful traditional kata with his customary style. For Men’s CMX, Reid Presley returned with a fury and dominated the stage, taking the Diamond ring and wowing the crowd with his high flying tricks and power.
The competition was strong, and the comradery and support from all competitors and fans was a palpable force throughout the event from beginning to end. This year’s Diamonds was a success and an event that lives up to its name. But, all competitors are excited for the move, and for all the changes associated with it. It’s time for the next evolution of Diamond Nationals, and this is the first step.