The 2014 Amerikick Internationals was more than expected in many ways. The event took place on April 28-29, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. What was expected was a tournament that started on time, offered an awesome location in downtown Philadelphia and provided great competition and awards. It definitely delivered in those areas. What was went beyond expectations was the enormous turn-out, the international flavor of the event and the caliber of the Superfight competition. The event with the motto “The Competitor’s Tournament” worked hard to cater to its customers and managed to deliver a banner year for the event.
The names that stand out from the event are Team Impex, Kieran Tamondong, Sammy Smith, Becca Ross and Payton Foley as they all made Amerikick history with their performances.
Amerikick Internationals is a NASKA 5A event and it comes with the expectation that it will be highly organized. The impact of the large attendance pushed Friday start times back to accommodate some late competitor arrivals. However, it was on the ball for Saturday competition as the divisions started on time and ran continuously throughout the day.
Amerikick also offered unique divisions to allow everyone to participate in his or her specialty. Hyper tricks and weapons battles, traditional forms challenge, special demo team competition and the Open Weight Sparring Challenge were all packed with talent.
Besides the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Eagles, being the first capital of the United States, birthplace of Benjamin Franklin’s invention of electricity, resting place of the Declaration of Independence, setting of the Rocky movies, birthplace of licorice, bubble gum, ice cream and girl scout cookies – it is also where you can find Philly Cheesesteaks. What is even better is the venue for the event, the Philadelphia Convention Center, which is right across the street from an awesome market serving not only cheesesteak but a variety of other foods. With the event centrally located in downtown Philadelphia and only a train ride from the airport, the location is second to none.
The 2014 Amerikick Internationals attracted some of the top competitors in all disciplines. Not only did it attract the awesome players, it also was incredibly packed with a huge increase in participants. Black belt divisions with over 15 competitors were common and winning – well, winning meant truly competing.
The Kahan boys returned to compete and won the synchronized teams competition during the day time eliminations Friday night. Team Infinity of Wisconsin appeared unstoppable with another demo team title.
Six top fighters were seeded into the finals for the men’s Open Weight Superfight Challenge. Everyone else had to fight through the wild cards for the final two spots. With eleven challengers for those two spots, the fights on Friday night were heated. In the end, Josh Horwege and Kevin Walker battled through some tough competition to advance to the finals. They joined Chance Turner, Ryan George, Jason Bourelly, Jason Grenier and Avery Plowden. These men were all fighting for a $2,500 prize for the champion, $500 for the runner-up and $100 for the 3rd and 4th places.
Men’s Friday night weapons and forms were nothing short of amazing. Huge tricks, lots of risk taking and some jaw-dropping performances were common. Reid Presley has been winning like crazy with his double bo routine but he was only able to take home the non-bladed creative weapons title on Friday night. Vincent Scarduzio was inspired by a higher power because he was intense. Scarduzio took the musical weapons title. Mike Guthrie followed up his AKA Grand Nationals Warrior Cup win with the men’s extreme weapons win and the men’s musical form win.
One of the most exciting divisions of Friday night is always men’s team sparring. Seven teams lined up for the Amerikick division. When the fights opened with Chad Cannon landing a tornado kick on his opponent’s head, it was clear that the fights would be exciting. When the dust cleared, Team Gipsy of Texas advanced to the stage to face Team Impex.
Saturday was traditional forms and weapons and run offs followed by the finals. During the day time eliminations, the traditional divisions were packed and so were the fighting divisions. Shahin Jahanvash took both men’s traditional weapons divisions to assure himself a berth on the stage.
Ronel Williams cruised to the 30 and over fighting grand championship title during the day time eliminations. In the adult women’s fighting, Gina Thornton won her division but was unable to get any further as Morgan Plowden and RaeLynn Perkins were the two to make it to the stage to fight for the grands.
In the men’s 18 and over fighting competition, it was a battle for two spots on the stage. Troy Binns won his division and then overcame Kevin Walker. However, it was teammates Jason Grenier and Avery Plowden who ended up in the grands.
Amerikick has definite boasting rights when it comes to demo teams. With tons of Amerikick schools participating, the event has many, many demo teams from the schools and the competition is fierce. The finals opened with Team Infinity showing its winning performance and facing Amerikick Overland Park for the title. Infinity came out ahead.
In junior team sparring, it was a battle as Team Straight Up faced Team Amerikick. In round one, Vince Little of Amerikick put his team in the lead by a score of 6-1 after his fight with Tyler Hall. Team Straight Ups’ middle and anchor fighters, Devin Meckler and Bailey Murphy, did their work and brought Straight Up back to take the 9-6 win.
Everyone is amazed by what sport karate kids are doing these days and the performances at Amerikicks added to the marvel. It was an incredible night for Kieran Tamondong of California in the 13 and under divisions. Tamondong has been competing for years but had never won a grand championship. Amerikick Internationals was his breakthrough event as he not only got on stage, he won his first grand championship title in 13 and under overall forms. But Tamondong was not done. He was back again with this traditional routine in 13 and under weapons. His challengers were tough but the magic was still in the air and Tamondong’s intense performance won him a second grand championship award for the evening.
The 14-17 youth grand championships were equally intense. Danny Etkin opened up the competition in forms followed by Derek Meegan and Jae Sweeny. However, it was Sammy Smith’s musical routine that was the favorite of the judges. Even more incredible is that Smith had just gotten back into training after a foot injury that took over a month to recover from. Smith blew the crowds minds one more time when she returned in the 14-17 weapons overall grand championships and blazed a new trail with her nunchuck routine. The result – a second win for Sammy Smith in weapons as well.
Amerikick honored some of the top event supporters and competitors of the sport with its Hall of Fame. Mike Recinto, a longtime Amerikick instructor, student and tournament supporter was inducted. Along with Recinto, former top sport karate fighter Ray McCallum was acknowledged with Hall of Fame honors. The final inductee was promoter, referee, coach and father – Manny Reyes, Sr.
Adult forms and weapons were crowd pleasers. Dayna Huor, Stephannie Figueroa, Raquel Romaine and Becca Ross took the stage for women’s forms. Ross’ traditional routine took the grand championship title. Ross was not done for the evening. She whipped out her musical bo routine in the women’s weapons competition and took the weapons grands too – joining Tamondong and Smith in the double win club for the evening.
Men’s forms and weapons grands were out of control. Sen Gao made it into both through the Chinese divisions and was determined to win. But he was not alone, Vinny Scarduzio, Shahin Jahanvash, Michael Guthrie and Reid Presley were also on stage for the competition. In forms, Sen Gao did some dangerous stuff but Michael Guthrie’s opening move and clean performance were all the judges needed to give Guthrie the forms title. In weapons, Scarduzio pushed himself to the limit and managed to take the win.
The always popular Hyper weapons and trick challenge was fun to watch with some surprising upsets. The audience was all cheers when Jimmy Kane defeated Jacob Pinto in the sword weapons challenge. Jackson Rudolph got the judges’ calls for the bo title over Reid Presley. The big kids on Team AKA defeated little Aidan Kennedy and his other 9 year old teammates in the tricks battle. Joseph Bein defeated Mackensi Emory for the kamas title while Isabella Caracta was the nunchuck champ.
The Traditional Challenge was historic as Destiny Vergara won the youth title. For the adults, Payton Foley won and became the first woman to take the title.
When it came to fighting, the event and the finals were all about Team Impex. In women’s team sparring, Team Impex’s Morgan Plowden and Verona Soliman defeated Team Florida for the first team win. Team Impex faced Team Gipsy for the men’s team sparring finals. Impex started strong with a 3-1 lead after the first match. In round two, Chad Cannon help Gipsy get back into the game against Jason Grenier by bringing Gipsy within one point. The final fight came down to Avery Plowden and Chance Turner. Plowden fought patiently and it was to his advantage as he increased the team lead throughout the fight to give Impex the win and second team victory for the evening.
The individual sparring grand championships were all Impex as well – and all Plowden. Morgan Plowden faced RaeLynn Perkins in two rounds of fighting for the women’s title. Morgan ended round one up 9-2. Perkins was unable to get anything started in round two and Plowden won 12-2 to take the women’s title. For the men’s sparring grands, Avery Plowden faced teammate Jason Grenier. Avery nearly matched his older sister by ending round one with an 8-2 score. In the second round, Avery held his lead to take the win for Impex and the Plowden lineage.
The Open Weight Challenge was the highlight of the event. Jason Grenier opened the fights with a win over Kevin Walker to advance the first Team Impex fighter. Ryan George kept WKF in the mix with a win over Lawrence “Kodaq” Wray. Jason Bourelly seems to come away with a win of some kind at Amerikick each year but it was not to be in 2014. Chance Turner defeated Bourelly 5-1 in the Open Weight semi-finals. Avery Plowden also advanced over Josh Horwege after Horwege took a nasty elbow to the eyebrow that left him needing a few stitches.
Ryan George nearly stopped the Impex sweep as he opened his match against Jason Grenier in the Open Weight finals up 5-1. However, Grenier was able to mount a comeback so that he was only down by one at the buzzer. The rules call for winning by at least two points so the match went into overtime. Grenier used the time wisely and tied the score then scored with a two-point kick to advance. Avery Plowden started strong against Chance Turner in his match, getting up 4-0 in the first minute. Turner was unable to get back in the game and Plowden advanced to face teammate Grenier again for the Open Weight Title.
Grenier kept the score closer in the final Open Weight title match and was down by two against Plowden with 8 seconds left. Plowden held on to his lead and took his second title of the evening along with $2,500 in prize money to give Team Impex all the sparring titles from the event.
Congratulations to Team Impex and the incredible double winners – Kieran Tamondong, Becca Ross and Sammy Smith. The 2014 Amerikick Internationals was quite the adventure and quite the event.