By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)March 12, 2015
Fourteen of the best Soldiers battled it out for bragging rights and Commander's Cup points in the Fort Leonard Wood Combatives event championship matches held March 5 at Davidson Fitness Center.
Of the 45 competitors who started the event, there could only be one winner in each weight class. The level of competitiveness on Fort Leonard Wood was on display the entire event, observed one of the judges.
"We've got a lot of wonderful competitors across the board from the installation," said Staff Sgt. Jared Wagner, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, who served as a judge. "A lot of them have been wonderful, as far as their performance and how hard they've worked to get here."
The single-elimination event followed the Modern Army Combatives Program by progressively increasing the level of contact to build on the skills learned in combatives, said Sgt. Brandon Bunner, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence event director.
The first round followed standard rules where the Soldiers could only grapple. The semi-finals followed intermediate rules by adding limited strikes. The finals followed advanced rules, meaning it was full hand-to-hand combat, but with added safety precautions, Bunner said.
In the end, it was the 5th Engineer Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, winning the Commander's Cup. They also had the most representatives in the final event with eight.
The coach for 5th Engr. Bn., Sgt. Anthony Hampton, said he was proud of what his Soldiers were able to accomplish in the tournament.
"The guys worked hard for it," he said. "Some of the Soldiers only had a couple of weeks training, and this was their first tournament overall. So, they did outstanding."
Fifth Engr. Bn. had three Soldiers win their weight class, including Spc. Marshall Anderson, Flyweight, from 595th Sapper Company.
"I really wasn't expected to win, because everyone was telling me the guy (my opponent) had a lot more training than I did," he said. "So, when I started the first round and actually got a couple of good hits in, that was when I started thinking I might actually have a shot."
Hampton called the win by Anderson a huge upset. The coach said his fighter only had a week of hard training.
"He was a big underdog. It shows that hard work pays off," Hampton said.
It was inevitable that there would be a match pitting two Soldiers from 5th Engr. Bn. against each other. In the Cruiserweight class, it was Pvt. Eben Torres versus Pfc. Connor O'Gallegher, with Torres winning by submission.
A lot of the fighters who participated in the event, train together regularly. Even if they aren't in the same battalion, it can still be difficult to face off against a training partner.
"At the end of the day, it's me fighting my buddy," said Spc. Wyatt Schwemin, 515th Engr. Co., 5th Engr. Bn.
See more information on the Commander's Cup portion of the event on Page C3.
Winners by weight class:
Flyweight - Anderson, 595th Sapper Co., 5th Engr. Bn., 4th MEB
Lightweight -- Sgt. 1st Class Colin Lulker, Company E, 701st Military Police Battalion
Welterweight - Spc. Daniel Bido, 463rd Company, 92nd MP Bn., 4th MEB
Middleweight - Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Cunningham, 169th Engr. Bn.
Cruiserweight -- Torres, 50th Multi-Role Bridge Co., 5th Engr. Bn., 4th MEB
Light Heavyweight -- Staff Sgt. Bruno Richardson, 3rd Chemical Brigade
Heavyweight - Spc. Brandon Grey, 595th Sapper Co., 5th Engr. Bn., 4th MEB.