New England Open on

Ross Levine and Morgan Plowden of Team Impex win men and women’s grand champion titles.

It was a beautiful weekend for the New England Open which was hosted May 31-June 1, 2013 and for the second year at the Manchester Radisson in Manchester, New Hampshire. The venue was buzzing with excitement.  As you entered the tournament area for Friday evening and Saturday day’s competition, you were greeted with an oversized karate guy with a trophy stand in front of him. Many spectators took the opportunity to snap a few pictures with their large trophies.

The event was the destination for some of the top teams in the world with a full house from Team Impex, Team WKF, Team All Stars and Team Straight Up on hand.

Friday night’s events started close to on time and the room was packed with both under belt and black belt divisions. There were a lot of Teams that showed up for the men’s team fighting.  Also, there was a good number of Movado teams to mix things up. JPM’s Chelsey Nash and Nikki Pelland beat Str8t Up’s Marissa Meyer and her teammate to face Team Impex on stage Saturday night for women’s team sparring.

Mens sparring eliminations were very exciting with WKF beating Next Level to make it to the semi-finals on stage Saturday night.  Also winning were Allstars, Str8t Up, and Impex.

As always, the finals were a little unpredictable but definitely fun and inclusive. The kids got a chance on stage with Bailey Murphy facing Jalen Carr. Carr managed a 7-3 win and bragging rights. Team Sport Action from Canada continues to entertain as the demo team winners and performers for the night. Later in the night, Team Emig defeated the tough-as-nails girls from Team BringIt for the synchronized teams title.

Instead of running the usual NASKA overall divisions in the finals, this was accomplished during the day time with the finals reserved for some new challenges. First, a 13 and under boys forms and weapons challenge was offered. Danny Etkin was up to the challenge with his extreme routine and the win. For the 13 and under girls, Isabella Caracta coordinated her mani/pedi to match her nunchucks and won the show.

For the 14-17 boys weapons and forms competition, Reid Presley was impressive with his double bo routine but the judges were all about Jackson Rudolph this evening as Rudolph took the title. For the girls, Mackensi Emory was able to hold challengers at bay with an intense extreme routine that got the judges’ votes.

Micayla Johnson is barely 18 but she’s turning out to be a formidable adult competitor. She took on Stephannie Figueroa and Becca Ross and came out the winner in women’s weapons. The women were followed by men’s forms with Micah Karns putting on a performance that overcame all – including the crazy drunken style of Sen Gao. In women’s forms, Becca Ross redeemed herself by winning the title with her traditional routine. For men’s weapons, it was the quiet storm of Stephen “Thor” Grasz and his traditional sword that took the title for the evening.

The New England Open has a few signature divisions that provide some great entertainment. In the Super Forms finals, the competitors spin a wheel to determine what type of form they will need to perform. Sammy Smith is an old pro at the division, ending up on stage in the finals almost every year since it was introduced. She took on Cody Sanders and she ended up showing the crowd her diversity by winning with a traditional weapons routine – using Drew Derek-Bisbee’s adult sized Oar as the weapons. She received Beats by Dre headphones as her prize.

The newly forged Team Alliance debuted its junior fighters at the event and faced Team United in the finals. Alliance held onto an early lead and kept it all the way to the end for the win. Next up were the men’s sparring semi-finals. With four teams left, it meant a lot of battles.

For the women, during the day time eliminations Morgan Plowden took on the woman who is considered the number one female point fighter in the world right now – Chelsey Nash in the lightweight division. Plowden came out the winner and advanced to win the overall grand championship title. The two had another rematch in women’s team sparring in the night finals. This time Nash left nothing to chance as she led Team Paul Mitchell to a team victory over Team Impex.

Team WKF faced Team Straight Up in match one. WKF was in the lead going into the finals. Kyle Richards of Straight Up tried to bring his team back into the forefront in his fight with Victor Suarez but it was not to be and WKF advanced to the final round. Team All Stars group of Joe Fife, Raymond Daniels and Jack Felton then faced off against Impex’s Jadi Tention, Avery Plowden and Ross Levine. Earlier during the eliminations, Tention lost by one point to Daniels for the 30 and over grand championships and Levine had defeated Felton in a classic match-up for the men’s grand championships. The finals provided two exciting rematches for the audience.

In round one, Fife and Plowden ended with a 2-2 tie. Daniels and Tention went at it and managed to exchange points on not just technique but also the opponent going out of bounds. It ended with Daniels up by one point and Impex in the lead. Felton wasn’t ready to let Levine go away with bragging rights as he managed to hold onto the All Stars lead and come out with a 6-4 lead against Levine to move All Stars into the final round.

The night ended with the final Men’s Team Fight of WKF against team All Stars. Victor Suarez opened strong for WKF as he defeated Joe Fife with score of 3-1. Raymond Mendoza of WKF squared up with Jack Felton for the second round.  Felton not only was able to make up the point spread from the first fight, he scored enough to give his team an 8 to 4 lead.  Tom Roberts of WKF not only had a 4 point gap to make up in the final round, but he had to fight Raymond Daniels. Daniels held on to his team lead and Allstars won 10 to 5.

The New England Open was all Team Impex during the day with teammates Morgan Plowden and Ross Levine winning the overall women’s and men’s point sparring grand championships. The paths that took them to those victories were varied and exciting. But Team All Stars held the night with their dramatic victory over Impex and WKF for the men’s team sparring victory.