By Jasmine WalthallFebruary 11, 2011
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- (Feb. 10, 2011) -- Fort Leonard Wood hosted their first ever installation-versus-installation combative tournament against Fort Riley, Kan., Friday, at Davidson Fitness Center. Each team brought their best men to compete for a division championship title, and overall team winner. It was a close match that ended with a win for Fort Riley in the heavyweight bout, which led to their overall win.
"We originally thought that it would be primarily grappling," said Jonhathan Menke, Fort Riley combative team coach. "When we were clarified on the rules, we had to switch gears and went hardcore for two weeks. I would say our win was due to 90 percent strategy. Fort Leonard Wood was very good, but we are all Soldiers, so we had to implement outside strategies."
Fort Leonard Wood's Pfc. Jay Jacobson was crowned flyweight champion after defeating Pfc. Manuel Montoya, another Fort Leonard Wood fighter who fought Jacobson due to Fort Riley's flyweight being unable to make weight.
" I think I did well although I have some things to improve on. I believe that we will be more prepared for Georgia this year - we have a lot of talent here - last year was a good experience and this year we have everything worked out and will do even better," Jacobson said.
In the lightweight division Pfc. Israel Lopez, Fort Riley, defeated Fort Leonard Wood's Staff Sgt. Jose Nunez.
Staff Sgt. Jason Powell delivered and was named welterweight champion in his fight against Fort Riley's Spc. Joshua Welborn.
"My knowledge in jiu jitsu and the fact that I have more experience with doing fights outside of the military is what I think my greatest strength was. Our focus from now on is to get together as a team and train for All Army. We are hoping to have several fighters win in their division at Fort Benning. We also hope to focus on expanding the combative program as a whole on Fort Leonard Wood to include a building dedicated to the Fort Leonard Wood combative team, having somewhere to go all the time would definitely enhance the program," Powell said.
Fort Riley took a victory in the middleweight division when Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Tamburo defeated 1st Lt. Daniel Sunden.
For some, the cruiserweight fight was one of the most interesting bouts, going the full three rounds. With a win in two out of the three rounds, Fort Leonard Wood's Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hernandez, defeated Spc. Joshua Gualtier.
"It was a tough fight," Hernandez said. "But my wrestling ability and my sheer will is what took me over the top. I refused to quit."
The light heavyweight round was won by Fort Riley's Pfc. Hans Haken, tying up the competition, and placing all of the pressure on the heavy weight fight where Fort Riley's Staff Sgt. Lonnie Kincaid took the win against Fort Leonard Wood's Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Tilberg.
With the tournament over, there is one common thought on the minds of Fort Leonard Wood fighters, coaches, and leaders alike - training, improvement, and the All Army Combative Championship tournament later this year.
"I was very proud of my team," said Staff Sgt. Jason Eggleston, 2010 Light Heavyweight division All Army Combative champion from Fort Leonard Wood. " I enjoyed sitting out as a fighter this competition and getting to step into more of a coaching role. I have mixed feelings about going to the championship this year, on one hand I would love to go back and fight, and be one champion but on the other hand, I could go and coach and make many champions."
"The combative tournament, Friday, was just the beginning," said Staff Sgt. George Maxwell, Fort Leonard Wood combative team coach and fight director. "Our team will stay focused and train on a high level of energy while continuing to build confidence and technique, the team's goal is to place first at the championship at Benning later this year."
"I thought we did very well against Fort Riley," said Command Sgt. Maj. Corbly Elsbury, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. "Fort Riley is one of the top three teams, so it was a good measuring stick for us to see where we matched up. It prepared us with focus points for the for the All Army Combative tournament later this year. We had one All Army champ last year, and we see possibilities for more this year. I want for this to be an enduring program on Fort Leonard Wood because it requires a great deal of individual self - discipline, which is what makes us good Soldiers."
Fort Leonard Wood is in the process of looking into upcoming fights with additional installations.
(Jasmine Walthall is the assistant editor of the Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON.)