By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)November 10, 2016
Fourteen service members earned the right to represent Fort Leonard Wood at the 2017 All-Branches Combatives Tournament by fighting their way to the final matches of the post tournament Friday.
Under the spotlight in Davidson Fitness Center, the top competitors met in the cage to determine the best in their weight class, an opportunity the tournament director said was not easily earned.
"It was a grueling three days of competition to prove themselves to get to here," said Sgt. Justin Helt, 5th Engineer Battalion combatives noncommissioned officer in charge and tournament organizer. "They earned their right to be in the cage."
This three-day tournament followed previous tournament formats where each round progressively increased the level of contact to build on the skills learned in combatives.
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, Helt said.
This type of tournament is good for Soldiers and Marines who participated, said Capt. Matthew Mahon, officer-in-charge of the Modern Army Combatives Program here.
"We've got a quality set of fighters in quality fights," he said. "It gives them an opportunity to show their skills in hand-to-hand combat, which is huge for the Army as a whole."
One Marine who competed said he entered the tournament to see where his skills were compared to the rest of the competition.
"I wanted to test myself and see where I was," Marine Sgt. Troy Williams said.
Although he lost in his middleweight bout, Williams still got a good idea of where he was.
"It taught me a lot of where I need to improve and get better," he added. "Whether you win or lose, you are going to take something away from it. I'm going to try to train a little more and brush up on the things I need to in order to win the next one."
For Spc. Yorell Evelyn, it was more about showing Fort Leonard Wood what firefighters are all about.
"I competed to show everybody the uniqueness and capabilities of firefighters," he said. "It was an honor and a pleasure to show everyone what firefighters can do."
Evelyn, who won his heavyweight bout, wasn't the only one trying to prove something to the rest of the competition. Pfc. Cindy Perez was the only female fighter who competed in the tournament. Although she lost in her lightweight match, she said it wasn't just about winning a trophy for her.
"There are not a lot of females who do combatives here," she said. "I want to get more females to compete."
Helt said the next Fort Leonard Wood tournament will be for Commanders Cup points and is scheduled for April. The All-Branches Tournament is scheduled for February at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Lightweight -- Spc. John Suarez, 5th Engineer Battalion, defeated Pfc. Cindy Perez, 5th Engr. Bn.
Welterweight -- Staff Sgt. Jason Powell, 1138 Engineer Company, defeated Marine Cpl. Chris Woodberry, Marine Corps Detachment
Middleweight -- Staff Sgt. Bruno Richardson, 3rd Chemical Brigade, defeated Sgt. Troy Williams, Marine Corps Detachment
Cruiserweight -- Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Duncan, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood, defeated Marine Sgt. Be Vang, Marine Corps Detachment
Light Heavyweight -- Spc. Eben Torres, 5th Engr. Bn., defeated Capt. Gil Quinata, 701st Military Police Battalion
Heavyweight -- Spc. Yorell Evelyn, 562nd Firefighter Detachment, defeated Staff Sgt. James Havel, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment.
Super Heavyweight -- Sgt. 1st Class Corey Lemron, 5th Engr. Bn., and Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Tilberg, U.S. Army Military Police School. Lemron and Tilberg were unable to compete in the finals due to scheduling conflicts.