The Greenhalghs are always full of surprises; everyone leaves with something remarkable to say about the New England Open each year. For 2012, his big change was in location. The event moved the remote Marlboro, Massachusetts to Manchester, New Hampshire in a location adjacent to an airport. The result was a much bigger turn out from traveling competitors in the NASKA circuit. The new location was also adjacent to restaurants and stores in the sleepy town of Manchester. The verdict – great choice!
The event drew Team Proper from California which meant some great new fighters in the mix. In addition, there were many Canadians at the tournament which kept everything exciting.
In the finals, Joe Greenhalgh provided his audience with further evidence that China is taking over the world when everyone witnessed the country’s most recent conquer – the LMFAO dance. Jessica, the youngest Greenhalgh, veiled herself in a Chinese dragon and showcased her dance skills for everyone’s enjoyment to open the show.
Competition began with Caitlin Dechelle and Marc Canonizado of Team Paul Mitchell winning the synchronized forms grand championships. Team Straight Up dropped a bo so Paul Mitchell’s only competition was the three hour jet lag from Los Angeles.
Danny Etkin walked out first for the 13 and under weapons grands, but Dallas Liu’s traditional sword form was the favorite performance. Liu and Etkin seem to go back and forth at each event. There must be a formula that we have not figured out.
Amanda Chen defeated Brandon Rasinksi, Jacob Pinto, and Sammy Smith in the 14-17 forms grand championship. Chen hit harder than ever and showed great intensity – it was like someone told her that Justin Bieber or One Direction was going to present the award. Also, Raymond Daniels made sure to shout to the crowd that Chen was his teammate – perhaps people can’t make the connection between the same ASG logos on their backs. 911: never forget.
Caitlin Dechelle got a lucky draw this evening when she followed Becca Ross and Jennifer Espina who both dropped their weapons in the women’s weapons grand championship. In our eyes, Becca took second because she made it through most of her form. Even though Dechelle could now view her performance as a demo event she still ran her whole form for the crowd and then won. Dechelle was unable to stop her winning ways when she was back for the women’s forms grand championships along with Ross and Olivia Wicker. No one dropped anything this time but it was still Dechelle with the win.
The men’s overall form grand championship came down to two competitors: Matt Emig and Marc Canonizado – two who have rivaled for over 10 years. Emig began the event with long trick combos and Canonizado finished it with a more creative approach to his form. It came down to a 100th of a point with Canonizado declared the winner. However, after recalculation, it turns out that Emig was the winner and the trophy was taken from Canonziado and given to Emig. Honorable mention to Vincent Scarduzio who put on a great performance. Emig and Canonizado faced each other again in men’s weapons grands and Emig was beyond determined. This time, he wanted his win to be clear and concise. Emig nearly burst an artery with the strength of his performance and garnered a number of 10s from the judges. It did the trick as Emig took the men’s weapons grand championship.
The junior team fights began with Jalen Carr of Full Circle taking on Mike DeCastro of Straight Up. DeCastro is twice the size of Carr which forced Jalen to take the “David and Goliath” approach. Jarvis Miller of Full Circle took on Brandon Ballou in the second round. Brandon is small and tough but Jarvis had the power, speed, velocity, and height that was difficult for Brandon to get around. Daniel Saggal of Straight Up took on Chris Gargiulo of Team Full Circle. Gargiulo is arguably the best 16-17 fighter on the NASKA circuit right now with some fantastic performances and consistent wins. He defeated Brendan Rasinski during the day time eliminations in a brutal match. In the team fights, Chris had flexible kicks but wasn’t always able to catch Daniel in his quick angles. Chris was able to land enough kicks to contribute to Full Circle’s 12 to 6 win.
Team Proper put on a fantastic performance during the daytime eliminations in team fighting, men’s WAKO-style fighting and point sparring. In team fighting, they positioned themselves to move into the finals with a win over Team Straight Up’s Kevin Braxton, Troy Sexton and Cody Nascene. Alex Arceo moved into another favorite fighter status with his WAKO-style fight against young Devin Burke and his willingness to throw some crazy kicks. Team Proper’s Leon Jefferson was amazing in WAKO-style fighting, first defeating Greg Betlach of Team Paul Mitchell and then going down to the wire against Ross Levine in the championship match. Finally, in men’s individual point sparring, Arceo and Jefferson both won their middleweight divisions and Jefferson moved on to the finals for the grand championships.
In the finals, men’s team fights consisted of Team Proper (Alex Arceo, Leon Jefferson, and Bryan Young) facing Team RCG (Ross Levine, Cass Sigmon and Greg Betlach). Betlach and Arceo faced each other in the first match. Arceo made use of his kicking expertise but Greg delivered right back to end the match 3 to 3. Leon Jefferson took a low blow from Cass Sigmon in the second round. Sigmon fit in three kicks while Jefferson was all hands, ending the score 11 to 10 with Proper in the lead. Ross Levine tied it up immediately and then brought RGC up by 5 when he snuck in 2 kicks and a back fist on Team Proper anchor Bryan Young. Young scored one point then Levine viciously kicked him in the face. Levine kept his team ahead by 5 points and gave RGC the win. (Special thanks to Kodaq Ray for calling the fights for us.)
The SuperForms division is a Greenhalgh special at the New England Open. Competitors spin a wheel and whatever type of performance it lands on, the competitor must perform. Categories such as soft style, musical, sword, extreme and white belt form were all possibilities. Danny Etkin won the 13 and under competition in SuperForms. For the 14-17 competition, Samantha Smith has been winning for the past few years and we suspect she may practice at home for this one prior to the event. However, the most entertaining at the 2012 event had to be Jackson Rudolph. During the day time eliminations, he was handed a set of nunchucks and put together quite a passable performance. His coup d’tat was when the wheel landed on soft style and he put together a hilarious rendition of all the soft style performances he’d ever witnessed. During the night finals, the bo practitioner had to do a kama routine and the crowd was laughing and cheering as he did his best tricks with no drops. In the end, the judges picked Rudolph for the well-deserved win.
13 and under forms brought Gloria Vawter back to the stage with another traditional performance and her creative counter-part was Casey Welsh. Dallas Liu was also in a traditional mode for the evening as little Aidan Considine won the creative/musical/extreme grands during the day time eliminations. Considine came out ready to win and had the crowd’s support. A perfect 10 from a judge sealed his victory and gave Considine his second overall grand for the year.
In the 14-17 weapons competition, Sammi Smith had another bite at the apple with her nunchuck performance. The judges loved it and gave the award to Smith over some tough competition from Stephanie Figueroa and Jackson Rudolph.
Greenhalgh’s other special event for the tournament was the Movado Team Challenge. At stake, two very expensive Movado watches and head phones for the three-person team consisting of one man, one woman and one 13 and under youth. The final two teams were Team Straight Up and Team Paul Mitchell. For the men, Greg Betlach faced Kyle Richards to open the team match. The much lighter Richards was bounced around the ring but still managed to give his team a 5-3 lead along with smacking his coach Joe Greenhalgh on the butt after a score. For the women, top fighter Chelsey Nash faced Anisha Trappier. Nash left nothing to chance knowing that her junior fighter would be extremely outsized by the Straight Up fighter. Nash ran up a lead to give her junior fighter a good lead going into the final match. Michael DeCastro of Straight Up was back on the stage facing red belt Zoe Brown. DeCastro quickly got an 8-0 lead but Brown was able to score 3 points to DeCastro’s 12. In the end, it was Team Straight Up going home with the big prizes.
The event ended with fighting. Ross Levine opened the tournament with a bold prediction – that he would be the overall men’s sparring grand
champion. He started to fulfill this promise in his division when he faced Raymond Daniels for the men’s heavyweight divisional title. In the semi-final matches for the division, Daniels eyed Levine on every point scored while fighting his other opponents. Levine did the same in his semi-final match. When the two finally faced each other, Levine came on strong with a decisive win to advance to the grand championships. Levine then defeated former teammate Cass Sigmon to move to the stage.
The men’s sparring finals opened with Ross Levine fighting Paris Wilson of Team Next Level. Wilson started strong, keeping the score tied and then Levine pulled ahead and sealed it with a spin kick to the head to finish 12-4. Lawrence “Kodaq” Wray next fought Leon Jefferson of Team Proper. After finding his bearings, Jefferson unleashed his blitz on Wray to score point after point and end with a 9-5 win. A 60 second break was allowed and then it was time for the final match between Levine and Jefferson for the overall title.
Jefferson’s magic over the weekend didn’t seem to hold in the final match as he found himself down 5-1 with a minute left in the match. Levine was focused on his goal of getting the overall title and showed no mercy. The final score was 8-3 and was achieved with both kicks and punches by Levine. A disappointed Jefferson ended his NASKA debut with a respectable runner-up while Levine earned clear bragging rights from the event.
A new location was like a new beginning for the New England Open. The foundation has been laid for growth of this event with Greenhalgh leading it to the next level of greatness. With the finals over, it was time to explore New Hampshire and spend time with friends – and try to steal some of Sammy Smith’s cake!!