News: Down to 28: Soldiers battle it out in 2013 Fort Bragg Army Combatives Championship Invitational
Story by Spc. Mardicio Barrot, 22nd MPAD
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Nearly 300 soldiers from Fort Bragg and other Department of Defense installations battled each other in hand-to-hand combat to determine who will fight in the finals during the elimination and intermediate rounds of the 2013 Fort Bragg Army Combatives Championship Invitational at Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center, Dec. 13.
The 28 soldiers who will compete in the finals at Sport USA this evening had to survive the standard rounds, in which they were awarded points for takedowns, achieving dominant positions, and submissions.
Then they moved on to the semi-final/intermediate rounds where they were scored by judges, who determined the dominant fighter. These rounds incorporated kicks, open-hand slaps to the face, and closed-fist shots to the body into the standard grappling techniques used in the first round.
“This tournament represents real spirit,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, 82nd Airborne Division deputy commanding general of operations. “It shows the spirit of an American soldier who will fight. Anybody will fight if they have to. It takes a special human being to want to fight, and have the courage to close the distance in hand-to-hand combat.”
Spc. James Thrower, a combatives instructor with the 82nd Airborne Division, who weighed in at 171 pounds, proved to be courageous as he won against soldiers as heavy as 240 pounds in the 205 pounds and up division to proceed to the finals.
“Due to next week being my last week at the fight house, I originally wasn’t going to compete,” Thrower said. “The instructors were game planning on who was going to do different events and they said they needed someone for the 205-pounds plus division. They asked me if I was interested and I said sure.”
Even though Thrower was outweighed by nearly 70 pounds in some of his bouts, he managed to remain calm through match-ups.
“I wasn’t too nervous,” Thrower said. “Since I knew I was going to fight guys that were heavier, I trained with guys that were heavier to get me properly acclimated for the tournament.”
Thrower will be competing in one of the seven championship bouts today. These fights will determine who will be crowned champion in each weight class.
Also competing in a championship bout is 21-year-old Spc. Kevin Mellers, who serves with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
Mellers, competing in his fifth combatives tournament, said that Throwers training partner, Staff Sgt. Colter Brown, an instructor at the 82nd Airborne Division Combatives and Advanced Tactics School, proved to be one of the tougher competitors he’s faced.
“I’ve never seen a guy be so calm and deadly on his back,” Mellers said. “He was a really good fighter.”
Winning is one motivation for Mellers, who wrestled for three years in Miami.
“It’s an unexplainable feeling to train hard for something and know that it all pays off when the judge raises your hand,” Mellers said. “I love to win; it’s a good feeling to know you can be the best.”
A paralegal, Mellers emphasizes the importance of the combatives program and what it means to him as a soldier.
“Combatives is a program that should be engrained in every soldier,” Mellers said. “No matter what your job is in the military, your No. 1 mission is to fight and protect your country. Learning self-defense is a weapon you can use to protect you in all walks of life.”
Today’s finalist are:
Competing for 1st Place:
Weight Class Competitor Home Base
125 pound Pfc. Charles T. Curtis Fort Bragg, N.C.
125 pound Staff Sgt. Francisco Mercado Fort Bragg, N.C.
140 pound Sgt. Jess E. Hertzog Fort Bragg, N.C.
140 pound 1st Lt. James M. Quigg Fort Bragg, N.C.
155 pound Sgt. Richard E. Cole Fort Knox, Ky.
155 pound Sgt. 1st Class Grant L. Shanaman Fort Bragg, N.C.
170 pound Capt. Jon Anderson Fort Bragg, N.C.
170 pound Staff Sgt. Josh J. Mc Lean Fort Bragg, N.C.
185 pound Spc. Vincent R. Fairbairn Fort Benning, Ga.
185 pound Sgt. Cesar C. Padilla Fort Bragg, N.C.
205- pound Sgt. Dustin J. Bell Fort Bragg, N.C.
205- pound Spc. Kevin O. Mellers Fort Campbell, Ky.
205+ pound Spc. James E. Thrower Fort Bragg, N.C.
205+ pound Sgt. Shaun D. Golike Fort Bragg, N.C.
Competing for 3rd Place:
Weight Class Competitor Home Base
125 pound Pfc. Francisco M Cancino Fort Bragg, N.C.
125 pound Pfc. JoDoniss M. Edwards Fort Bragg, N.C.
140 pound Pfc. Abynattan Rodriguez Fort Bragg, N.C.
140 pound Pfc. Joseph J. Figueroa Fort Bragg, N.C.
155 pound Staff Sgt. Jason P. Kwast Fort Bragg, N.C.
155 pound Staff Sgt. Freddie L. Buddie Fort Bragg, N.C.
170 pound Sgt. Jonathan R. Medeiros Fort Bragg, N.C.
170 pound Spc. Paolo P. Fancisco Fort Bragg, N.C.
185 pound Capt. Jason L. Bahmer Fort Bragg, N.C.
185 pound 1st Lt. William R. Coggin Fort Bragg, N.C.
205- pound Cpl. Anthony S. Noblett Fort Bragg, N.C.
205- pound Spc. Nicholas L. Whitney Fort Bragg, N.C.
205+ pound Sgt. Thomas O. Ramirez Fort Bragg, N.C.
205+ pound Sgt. 1st Class Jefferey D. Perez Fort Bragg, N.C.