Only one week into 2011 and Crazy 88’s up-and-comers have already begun their push for competition success in the new year. Ann Pratten, Jason “MMA Institute” Keller, Mike Kellogg, Dan Abretske, and “Wrestler” Nick Lasalle traveled through treacherous snow to Ashburn, Virginia for the first of Copa Nova’s 2011 tournament series.
The Copa Nova and US Grappling have been the host to many of Crazy 88’s competitors in their first tournament grappling experience. In fact, in 2007, I began with competing with Diamond State followed by Copa Nova. That being said, it was an absolute honor and pleasure to be there along with Brad Pearson to assist the newer competitors – to “pay it forward.” I came fully prepared to deal with nervous breakdowns and crazy questions about the rules. However, to my delightful surprise, the entire squad was cool and collected. Some had written gameplans in flow chart fashion and others had their gameplans committed to memory, but the important thing was that EVERYONE had a plan.
The day began with Ann Pratten who was forced to go up in both skill level and weight to face a purple belt/Judo player from Yamasaki Academy in both No-Gi advanced and purple belt Gi. Ann fought admirably in both matches, barely losing by points in no-gi and succumbing to a rear naked choke in the gi. Ann showed tremendous heart in happily accepting the challenge to fight against a more experience opponent. Ann’s attitude was that she was there to learn and to fight up would provide her a prime opportunity. Ann left it all on the mat for sure and without a doubt earned her opponents respect. Look out for Ann Pratten in 2011 who may have caught the competition bug this weekend.
Dan Abretske, our newest competitor, was the second called. Dan was well prepared (showing up to the venue with a breathe-rite strip already affixed to the bridge of his nose). Dan fought both No-Gi Novice (heavyweight) and White Belt (heavyweight). Dan’s first opponent was a large Ivan-dragoesque individual with “gorilla” tattooed on his arm in prison ink. Dan has probably been training with “Big Sal” Washington because within seconds of his No-Gi match beginning he jumped closed guard like he was a roosterweight. Dan was highly technical in his match pulling deep half guard numerous times and scoring numerous points. In the final seconds of his match, however, the self-proclaimed “gorilla” was able to get a hold of Abretske’s arm from his deep half position. While the match did not go Dan’s way, he surely showed that he can hang with the big boys in the heavyweight division. Dan’s second match was a similar story ending in a kimura.
Dan had three matches in white-belt heavyweight. Dan was again playing a Big Sal style standup and won his first match via sweep in the final seconds of the match. Very exciting beginning to the gi rounds. Dan lost via points in his seconds match and by an advantage in the third.
“Wrestler” Nick Lasalle fought cruiserweight No-Gi intermediate and cruiserweight blue belt. Nick took second place both of his divisions. Nick had four matches in No-Gi – winning the first two matches on points via masterful takedowns and winning his third match via kimura. Wrestler Nick does an incredible job of forcing his opponents to play his game, which is very stand up dominant. Nick fought late into the evening and still made it on time, dressed to impress, to our annual Crazy 88 holiday gala. Despite having a total of five grueling battles, Nick still had the energy to put on a break dancing clinic at 11pm at Hotel Monaco. I don’t know what impressed me more on January 8, 2011 – Nick’s takedowns or his b-boy style. Either way, B-Boy/Wrestler Nick Lasalle is a force to be reckoned with in both the BJJ and Breakin communities.
Mike Kellogg, who came to the tournament with a seven person cheering squad, entered both adult White belt light-heavyweight and White belt masters cruiserweight. Kellogg had a total of five matches for the day. In all matches, Kellogg was precise with his game plan, which he provided me in a computer generate flow-chart, and in establishing his grips. Kellogg won his first adult match via referee’s decision, and his second adult match, which was a grinder, via two points. Kellogg entered the finals with Top Flight BJJ’s Rivera. With much class, Kellogg and Rivera devided to have a friendly round in the finals with no coaching. Rivera took the gold. It is always a pleasure to closeout a division with a fellow Crazy 88 teammate. Kellogg and Rivera showed great sportsmanship in sharing their victories together.
Kellogg went one and one in masters. Kellogg his a very nice standing guillotine in his fight for the bronze in his masters division. Kellogg and his supporters were a great help throughout the day. Ms. Cathy did not attend this tournament so naturally I had no food, no drinks, no snacks (nothing but my grappling attire). Mike’s lovely wife saved the day providing food, water, and fresh fruit! Thank you Mrs. Kellogg!
Jason Keller’s results coming soon!
All in all, it was a great learning experience for all, a great beginning to the 2011 up and comer’s season, and a great day. It is always a pleasure to see new competitors put it on the line for the team and it was a blast to be afforded the opportunity to lend a hand to my fellow teammates. My hope is that you all will have the opportunity to “pay it forward” in the years to come.