Dennis Brown is considered one of the classiest event promoters in the world and his event, the U.S. Capitol Classics and China Open, follows suit. Spectators were able to mingle with today’s top martial art competitors as well as heroes from the past and movie stars. The tournament also kicked off the Open World Tour for the 2014-15 season and was a chance for competitors to set the foundation for Open World Tour ratings for the year.
Held in the Gaylord National Resort overlooking the Potomac the weekend of August 1-2, 2014, the “Capitols” featured high action competition and a Night Finals that showcased many of the best athletes of the sport.
Jake Presley of Team AKA continues to be unstoppable in the 13 & under weapons competition. He was challenged in the overall grand championships by Noell Jellison and Haley Glass. Presley’s performance had the crowd cheering as he took home the title with three perfect 10s from the judges. Rivaling Presley in the forms competition is Kieran Tamondong, representing AWMA, who has taken the 2014 year by storm. Tamondong’s traditional performance overcame the challenges of Aidan Kennedy, Haley Glass and Emma Teo.
For the older youth competitors, Sammy Smith continues to stay in the spotlight for the 14-17 girls but at Capitols, she encountered a new foe. Justin Chang of Team AKA had success in competition earlier in 2014 but has been quiet of late. At Capitols, Chang let it all go Frozen-style and took the win over Smith, Derek Meegan and Maia DiDomenico for 14-17 overall forms. Smith was back again in weapons but this time, she was doing a traditional routine – showing her diversity. This finals was for the flashy in youth weapons. Jackson Rudolph of Team Paul Mitchell managed a perfect 10 from one judge as he struck and twirled his way to a win with his bo, defeating Smith and Mackensi Emory.
Team Impex brought a stable of fighters with a desire to win at Capitols. In women’s point sparring, Morgan Plowden of Impex struck first by winning the grand championship title over Nicole Pelland. For the men, Ross Levine of Impex faced the quick legs of Justin Ortiz of Team Paul Mitchell. In the run-offs to the men’s finals, Levine had already faced and defeated Ortiz’s brother Luis in a match that went to overtime. Ortiz had defeated Levine’s teammate Avery Plowden in the semi-finals by one point to get to the grand champion match. Both were seeking retribution and both wanted the win. Levine used his size and reach to his advantage as he got the lead in the first round and held it to the end. Ortiz made a comeback in the final seconds but it was not enough as Levine won the men’s sparring grand championships 8-5.
Although Impex found great success in the individual point sparring competition, they were not as pleased with the results of men’s team sparring. Impex faced Next Level for the men’s team sparing title. Team sparring involves three matches between competitors of each team and the total points at the end of the third round results in the winning team. In the first fight, Sheldon Wray of Next Level gave Impex’s Avery Plowden a surprise as Wray was able to use his size well to end the match with Next Level up 7-4. In the second fight, it was all about Canada’s Jason Grenier of Impex. Grenier didn’t let Next Level’s Trey Lazenby get much going as the match ended with Impex up 14-9. Kodaq Wray was the anchor for Next Level and he faced the formidable Ross Levine of Impex. Levine was coming off his overall win earlier in the evening but could not get things started as Wray scored an initial 5 unanswered points in the first minutes. Levine called a time out and was able to start to mount his comeback but Wray was not going to back down and the match ended with the teams tied 19-19 in regulation time. In the Sudden Victory overtime, it was Wray who was able to score first to give Team Next Level the men’s team sparring title.
The finals were also graced with the excitement of the famous West Coast Demo Team led by Ernie Reyes, Sr. The team put on a show with breaking, music, self-defense and acrobatics all led by 67-year-old Ernie Reyes, Sr. And with the China Open being part of the competition, spectators were treated to two performances by the top soft stylists from the China Open. In both challenges, Sen Gao of China was declared the winner.
The difficulty of demonstration team performances come from having so many people having to perform at once – and relying on everyone to hit their mark. Demo teams are pushing the envelop and one wrong move could result in the entire performance going completely downhill. Wisconsin’s Team Infinity has been dominating in the demo team competition for the past few years and had just won the World Title at the recent US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships in a live performance on ESPN2. The team had some new material for the Capitols with the same strength and intensity. The challengers for Intensity were KICK Team – a group that has also shown great improvement in their routine in the past few months. This evening Infinity was on the ball with their performance and they won another championship award.
Dayna Huor has been involved in competition since she could barely walk. She is now an adult and is hitting her stride after entering into the 18 and over divisions at the beginning of 2014. Capitols was Huor breakthrough event as she managed to best Becca Ross and Kristina Huntsberger to win the women’s forms grand championship title. Becca Ross was back again in women’s weapons, performing her traditional bo routine. She was challenged by Erika Dertzinger, Kristina Huntsberger and Jennifer Espina. This time, Ross was able to hold the lead and her performance gave her the grand championship win for women’s weapons.
The competition for the men’s weapons and forms titles was tough. The competitors were so good, the judges had a tough time and their scores reflected this will many split decisions. To get to the finals, most of the competitors had to overcome many obstacles in the eliminations. In men’s forms William-Thomas Coneys amazed the audience during the daytime eliminations with a clean musical form to get a berth in the finals. Jacob Ellis emerged the winner from a 3-way tie with Alex Scott of Arkansas and Vinny Scarduzio of New York to go to the stage. Tyler Weaver, Jr. took the win in men’s creative form and Jeff Doss was the traditional representative while Sen Gao provided the soft style element. Weaver, who has been noticeably stepping up his game this year, was declared the winner in the overall challenge with Coneys as runner up.
Weapons competition brought back Tyler Weaver, Jr. and Sen Gao and gave the judges a chance to see the traditional work of Stephen Grasz and Kyle Montagna and the double bo routine of Reid Presley. It was Presley’s double bo routine that would take the win this evening.
With the conclusion of the men’s weapons competition, the 2014 US Capitol Classics and China Open was over and the new Open World Tour has begun.
Get more information about the Open World Tour at www.openworldtour.com