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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard takes 4th at All Army Combatives Tournament

Fourteen Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard competed in this year's 6th annual All Army Combatives Tournament held October 1st through 3rd at Fort Benning, Ga  Fifty-seven teams brought 462 competitors to the tournament where Soldiers display their hand-to-hand combat skills  Minnesota's fourth place finish in the tournament is the highest placement ever by a National Guard team

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During the competition, Soldiers gruel through double elimination brackets set-up in eight weight classes over three days  The first day Soldiers compete in a non-striking, submission bout for six minutes  If Soldiers advance to the second day (five from Minnesota advanced) then Soldiers face "intermediate" rules which include open hand strikes and kicks with closed fist and knees to the body  Winning through the intermediate rules allows Soldiers advancement to the last day of finals where amateur mixed-martial arts rules are emplaced  Both Pfc Sean Stebbins, 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, and Spc Erik Cabral-Garibay, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, advanced to the finals 

Highlights for Minnesota included spectacular second place finishes by Stebbins, Bantam Weight and Cabral-Garibay, Fly Weight in which both fighters went the full three to five minute rounds  Both fighters narrowly lost the fights in split-decisions by the judges  Additionally, five Soldiers from Minnesota advanced through the first day to compete in the intermediate rules on the second day: Stebbins, Cabral-Garibay, Sgt Cody Lincoln 134th Brigade Support Battalion, Capt Matt Jukkala, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and Staff Sgt Brian Friedrichs, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor Friedrichs shocked the crowd by defeating a former Olympic wrestling alternate in the first day by a score of 2-0  After not making weight due to prior injuries, Staff Sgt Mike Richmond, Recruiting Retention Battalion, achieved a 4-2 record while competing two weight classes above his normal weight

Additional members of the Minnesota Guard team included Pfc Richard Rodriguez, Staff Sgt Brandon Lolkus, Capt Bernie Williamson, Capt Joachim Eitenmiller, Sgt Nick DuBois, Lt Devin Sullivan, Pfc Brandon Thiebault, and Staff Sgt Braden Simonet  Team coaches were Sgt Maj Tony Padilla, Sgt Josh Fridgen, Lt Chad Malmburg, and Greg Nelson

The competition completed a long journey for the combatives team which began at the team tryouts in July  Overall, the Minnesota National Guard team was very pleased with their tournament results; however, all members are looking forward to next year's opportunity to represent Minnesota  Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard send a special thank you to Greg Nelson from The Academy and Damian Hirtz from Revolution Jiu-Jitsu/CrossFit MN for volunteering their time, facilities, and experience to the Minnesota Combatives Team

Teams and individual Soldiers from across the Army competed in several weight classes at the tournament, hosted by Benning's Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Army Combatives School

The top 10 teams in the competition, and their point scores:
1 III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas, 414
2 Fort Riley, Kan, 398
3 Fort Bragg, NC, 340
4 Minnesota National Guard, 297
5 Illinois National Guard, 264
6 Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash, 258
7 Fort Bliss, Texas, 227
8 Fort Campbell, Ky, 225
9 Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence, 223
10 Fort Sill, Okla, 222

The winners in the final round were:
1st: David Mason, III Corps
2nd: Sean Stebbins, Minnesota National Guard

1st: Francisco Mercado, Fort Bragg
2nd: Erik Cabal-Garibay, Minnesota National Guard

1st: Donnie Brown, Fort Campbell
2nd: Neil Chitwood, 4th Infantry Division

1st: Marquis Daniels, Fort Drum, NY
2nd: Trey Robbins, Fort Bragg

1st: Jon Anderson, MCOE, Fort Benning
2nd: Andrew Chappelle, Fort Sam Houston, Texas

1st: Jason Norwood, Fort Sill, Okla
2nd: Jacob South, 95th Infantry Division

Light heavyweight
1st: Jason Eggelston, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
2nd: Brandon Wallace, Military District of Washington

1st: Aaron Jackson, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
2nd: Ngozi Collins, 27th Infantry

Hundreds of Soldiers competed for titles during the competition, which was open to male and female Soldiers in all the service components Installations and divisions were allowed to send teams of up to 16 Soldiers, two per weight class

Fighters competed within "basic-rules bouts" on Oct 1 and progressed to "advanced-rules bouts" for the championship round Oct 3, according to an Army release
The Combatives School has taught hand-to-hand combat moves, such as striking, takedowns and ground fighting, since 1995

Capt Joachim Eitenmiller
34th Infantry Division
3 Oct 2010

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