The kid’s competition team had an amazing day on Saturday, October 10th, 2015. Coach Tim, Coach Vannessa, and Coach Aung La had been recruiting kids for over two months to compete in the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) tournament in Pennsylvania at the Marple Sports Arena. Crazy 88 recruited an army of 26 kids and 88% of those kids won matches to get a place onto the podium. By the end of the day, tons of swords and medals were shuffled around the venue among them, a first for many of our young competitors.

Crazy 88 Kids BJJ Team at NAGA

The calm before the storm

The very first match of the day was little ninja Dylan Balestino. Dylan won his first match 12-5 with a series of take downs and guard passes for first place, winning his first match ever. After the match, the organization recommended that he fight in the beginner division for extra matches. Dylan took two nogi matches at beginner and although they did not go the way we wanted them too, he still fought hard and only lost by very small margins. Later that day, he went on to take second place in the novice gi division, a great performance for his first tournament ever.

Dylan at NAGA Grappling Tournament

Clearly very excited about his new samurai sword.

In the novice division, Parker Lewis, the second youngest of the Maldonado family, won double gold in the 40-49.9 pound division. He won all three matches with a series of double leg take downs and guard passes to mount, putting the six year old at the top of the podium twice.

Parker at NAGA Grappling Tournament

Parker Lewis smiles bright after a big win

The youngest brother of the Maldonado clan, five year old Latham Maldanado, also competed in the novice nogi division and won in a similar way to his older brother. He won with a number of take downs to take gold in the 40 pound division.

Latham at NAGA Grappling Tournament

Latham Maldanado proudly holds up his 1st place samurai sword.

From Owings Mills, Stephan Jones and Nina Butler competed in the novice division in their very first tournament ever. Nina won first place in her nogi division and second in the gi, while teammate Stephan won first place in the gi and second in nogi.

Baltimore Grappler Nina at NAGA Tournament

First time competitor Nina Butler shows off her sword to the crowd.

Owings Mills Grapplers at NAGA Tournament

A proud coach Aung La standing with his students although one has completely lost interest

The last kid to participate in the novice division was tiny ninja Wayne Hall. In Wayne’s first match, he took his opponent down and held her in side control for the win. The rest of his matches did not go as well, but he fought his hardest in every single match, never giving up and earned 3rd place in his gi division. Very good performance for the four year old younger brother of Cheyne and Cheyenne Hall.

Baltimore Grappler Wayne at NAGA Tournament

Wayne Hall showing off the muscles

In the beginner division, Isaiah Durick made his debut while still in our Juniors program. He had to be bumped up to beginner from novice due to having nobody to fight. His matches did not go the way he planned, but he got valuable experience and he looks forward to improving and competing again in the future.

A standout performance was made by Cheyenne Hall. She modeled her matches after the style of UFC champion Rhonda Rousey. She threw both of the girls in the nogi division and arm barred them in a very small amount of time in order to get her spot on the top of the podium.

Baltimore Grappler Cheyenne at NAGA Tournament

Rhonda Rousey 2.0

Cheyne Hall, the oldest sibling of the Hall family, dove back into competing after over a year. He stepped onto the mat with tremendous confidence and fought hard in all of his matches. He ended the day with third in nogi, a big improvement from last year.

The three Heinrichs siblings showed up to the NAGA to compete by their mom’s side. Jackson Heinrichs, the youngest sibling, entered into the beginner division and fought his way to third place in nogi. The work he has put in showed through his effort and persistence, never giving up at any point in time.

Baltimore Grappler Jackson at NAGA Tournament

Jackson Heinrichs accepting third place with pride and satisfaction.

The two sisters, Natalie Heinrichs and Eva McGuire had some trouble with bracketing, but eventually, when all was sorted out, Eva had a four person nogi division with heavier, older girls while Natalie Heinrichs was placed with lighter boys. Eva was able to take second place in her gi division while Natalie took third. Natalie fought hard against the boys and won the fight for third place in an epic battle the ended in her favor on points.

Maryland Grappler Natalie at NAGA Tournament

Natalie took third in a four man division of boys

Maryland Grappler Eva at NAGA Tournament

Eva taking second after a hard fought match

Kyle Edwards, one of the original students, decided to compete after roughly five years of training. He went undefeated in gi and nogi and won double gold. Now, with wins under his belt, he is eager to test his skills more in the future.

Maryland Grappler Kyle at NAGA Tournament

Long time student, Kyle Edwards enjoying the result of his hard work over the years

Some more honorable mentions that competed in the beginner division for the first time ever were Connor Daughtery and George-Lucas Ciriarco. They both walked away with valuable experience and had a great day competing with and cheering on their teammates.

Next up was the intermediate division. First up were training partners Leleand Maldanado and Trey Bruce. They both barreled through their nogi bracket winning with a guillotine choke (Maldanado) and points (Bruce). Unfortunately, the ring coordinator did not inform us that they were in the same division, so they met in the finals and Trey went ahead and took first place while Leland took second.

Omar Kharitat showed up at the NAGA that morning ready to fight. He won all but one match to get second in the nogi and first in gi, the Crazy 88 specialty. After taking the summer off, Omar focused in the last few weeks by training hard in order to put on a good performance, and he did a great job!

Elkridge Grappler Omar at NAGA Tournament

Omar only smiles off camera

Robert Hunt, another first time competitor, had to be bumped up into the intermediate division due to having nobody to fight in beginner. This did not phase Robert, he stepped onto the mat with confidence and fought his hardest. He did not get the win, but he brushed it off and learned from his mistakes.

Next up was Braeden “Leonardo” Wilson who won every single one of his matches in the advanced division to get double gold. His finals match in the gi was a close one. It ended 2-2 with two advantages a piece so the referee decided to give them a one minute overtime in which Braeden won by one point in the last few seconds. His performance was an improvement in not only his technique but in his attitude. Braeden fought hard the entire match, getting out of bad positions quickly and sticking to his gameplan. We look forward to seeing this young man compete in the expert division soon!

NAGA Pennsylvania - Crazy 88 Kids

The Ninja Turtles are no strangers to gold medals or samurai swords

After not competing in jiu jitsu for almost a full year, the Pearl brothers, older brother Seth and younger brother Alex, decided to debut with their new grey belts in the intermediate division. Alex Pearl also had a standout performance, taking down and passing all of his opponents in both gi and nogi. He took first in nogi and second in both gi divisions. Seth Pearl had three matches, two in the gi and one in nogi. He won his match in nogi and went 1-1 in the gi division, a major improvement from his last competition.

NAGA Pennsylvania - Crazy 88 Kids - Alex Pearl

Newly promoted grey belt Alex Pearl with a big smile and a samurai sword

Veteran competitors and members of the Crazy 88 ninja turtles, Ronan “Michael Angelo” Santamarina and Devin “Donatello” Riley competed on adjacent mats. Devin Riley committed himself to training twice a day, every day for roughly a week before the tournament to prepare. Ronan Santamarina is also known for training multiple times a day when he can, especially in the summer. These boys are certainly no strangers to the competition scene and understand how to come away from losses. The day did not go how either of them planned, but they shook hands with their opponents, stepped off the mats with humility and pride, and got ready for their next matches until they were done.

NAGA Pennsylvania - Crazy 88 Kids - Zeta

Zeta A.K.A Esmeralda A.K.A. Zelda

More veteran competitors and new members of the Crazy 88 competition team were the Mansapits. The Mansapits had just moved all the way from Washington to Maryland a few months previous and have made fine additions to the team. Zeta Mansapit, the youngest grey belt at Crazy 88, fought in the beginner gi division for the second time in just a few months and won second place.

Damian Mansapit, Zeta’s older brother, competed in the expert division. He had to fight the same person in gi and nogi. He lost to him in nogi, but then avenged his loss in the gi, going 1-1 for the day and taking home the only championship belt for Team Crazy 88.

NAGA Pennsylvania - Crazy 88 Kids - Conca

Damian A.K.A. Conca


After all the kids had gone, it was the adults turn to show Pennsylvania what they could do. Stephanie Heinrichs, the ring leader of the Henrichs family, was up and ready for nogi after the kids were done. In nogi, she had to fight the same woman round robin style. She was able to win the first match on points, but unfortunately, she lost the second match from a 0-0 ref’s decision and the third match on points. In the gi, she was bumped up in weight by about 25 pounds and was not able to win, but she had a great time competing and was excited for each and every one of her matches.

The other three adults were from Crazy 88 Owings Mills. With a baby on the way, Nathan Allen decided to get back into the competition scene and entered into the blue belt gi division. In the finals, he won on points and later took his place at the top of the podium.

NAGA Pennsylvania - Crazy 88 BJJ Team - Nathan Allen

Nathan Allen giving the thumbs up after dominating the division

The other two adult competitors were Jeremy Collins and Antonio Lonesome. Antonio had only been training for roughly a month, but he decided to try out the competition scene anyways. He did not pull away with a win but he had a lot of fun trying it out and got great exposure to the competition scene. Last, Jeremy Collins had two matches in the gi. He lost the first by a take down in the last few seconds of the match. In his second match, he won 10-0 and finished the match attempting an Americana.

Overall, Team Crazy 88 had an amazing day of competing. The children showed much improvement with not only technique, but also with sportsmanship and attitude. The adults may not have had a lot of wins, but they all had a great time fighting alongside their teammates. The future looks bright for the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team in Baltimore, Crazy 88!