'Big Red One' combatives team continues winning streak
July 29, 2014
TOPEKA -- Members of the Fort Riley Modern Army Combatives Institute continued their winning streak at the annual Sunflower State Games jiujitsu tournament July 26. Fort Riley and 1st Infantry Division Soldiers teamed with competitors from the Combative Sports Center out of Manhattan to take home the first place jiujitsu team trophy.
The combined team won a total of 238 medals, competing in both the no-gi and gi jiujitsu categories across multiple weight classes and various skill levels. A gi is a traditional belted jiujitsu uniform.
"Our competitive portion of the Modern Army Combatives Program continues to excel," said Maj. Carl Johnson, Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div.
Johnson, a Phoenix native, is the team's officer in charge.
The Sunflower State Games are a series of yearly Olympic-style competitions taking place in and around the Topeka area. More than 40 events -- including basketball, swimming and archery -- started July 11 and continued through July 27.
One Fort Riley competitor was happy with his success, but was quick to deflect praise.
"It felt great to win, but I have to give the credit to the Fort Riley coaching staff," said 1st Lt. Joseph Friedman, 541st Combat Service Support Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Inf. Div.
Two coaches were not just on-hand to guide fighters, but also compete. Frank Portillio and Joe Wilk led the way, both walking away with gold medals in their respective weight classes. Wilk is the team's competitive director; he and Portillo are both instructors.
Friedman, from Warminster, Pa., took home individual gold in the 194-pound weight class. He joined the combatives team in May and was a fighter on the 2014 U.S. National Pankration Championships-winning team. Five 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley Soldiers and one Airman placed first and second in the Temecula, Calif.-competition, qualifying for the World Pankration Tournament later this year in Budapest, Hungary.
2014 Sunflower State Games jiujitsu results:
Sgt. Rico Wilcox, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div.: first place 207-pound weight class in no-gi and white belt gi
Staff Sgt. Adam Young, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div.: first place 181-pound weight class in white belt gi
Sgt. Hector Pedroza, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div.: first place 220-pound weight class in both no-gi and white belt gi
1st Lt. Joe Friedman, 541st CSSB, 1st Sust. Bde., 1st Inf. Div.: first place 194-pound weight class in white belt gi
Maj. Carl Johnson, DHHB, 1st Inf. Div.: second place 220-pound weight class in advanced no-gi
Frank Portillo: first place 220-pound weight class in intermediate and advanced gi
Joe Wilk: first place 167-pound weight class in advanced no-gi