By Tamika Matthews, Belvoir EagleApril 15, 2011
Blue mats bearing the Military District of Washington shield welcomed grapplers to Wells Field House Friday for the first combatives tournament of 2011.
Participants in five weight classes competed for top honors in welterweight, middleweight, cruiserweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.
Winners received a medal and certificate of achievement. Cruiserweight champion Adrian Smith also earned an award for Most Outstanding Competitor, which was given on the basis of his technical skills, stamina and overall abilities in each match, said Col. Dwayne Bowyer, Headquarters Battalion Commander.
Sgt. Michael Zedella of Walter Reed Army Medical Center walked away with a first-place finish in the welterweight category with a win over Dave De La Cruz in the second final of the afternoon.
Zedella wrestled in high school and coaches a youth wrestling club in Ashburn. He still has a heavy bag and mats in the basement of his home.
Zedella has won past Belvoir combatives tournaments and has gotten used to the feeling.
"The first two or three times I came out here, I had no expectations. Then I won it last year," he said with a smile. "This is my fourth time out, so now, I always expect to be competitive and win."
After the tournament, Bowyer addressed the crowd, thanking all the participants and organizers, including Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation employees and John "Papa John" Gorman, a jiu-jitsu instructor at Fort Belvoir and commissioner of USA Jiu-jitsu.
"We all appreciate you coming out here, and the only thing we ask is that next time, you bring two or three buddies and get everyone enthused about what we're doing out here," Bowyer said.
Bowyer also offered a preview for the upcoming MDW combatives tournament May 20 and 21.Winners of the event will travel to Fort Hood, Texas to compete in the All-Army combatives tournament later this year.
"Based on what we saw today, I believe we can head down to Fort Hood and really compete in several categories," Bowyer said. "I see some really great things for MDW combatives."