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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Dominates Guard Combatives Tournament

FORT BENNING, Ga " The Georgia Army National Guard Warrior Training Center hosted the 5th Annual National Guard Combatives Tournament with more than 145 Guardsmen traveling from 18 different states and 2 territories to compete

The top contender again this year was Team Minnesota, who had six fighters in the championship finals and two in the consolation finals, to finish first overall with 465 points Team Missouri was second with 281 points In third place, with 244 points, was Team Guam, who should also have won an award for most miles traveled

"Every year these tournaments get harder," said 1st Lt Chad Malmberg, Minnesota National Guard combatives coach "You take guys that are not necessarily professional fighters or guys that don't have a whole lot of experience, but these are Soldiers, who take that mentality that they bring to the battlefield, and they are bringing the warrior ethos into the cage"

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The combatives tournament consisted of standard grappling rounds, intermediate rounds with some striking, and the championship rounds with full kick and fist striking

Numerous teams found a way to make training through their own gyms, monthly team meetings, and resourced travel to the competition

"The toughest battle was just getting here," said Master Sgt Allen Blend, Guam National Guard combatives coach "But the guys persevered, and overall we have placed first, second, and third place, so they have done real good"

When Pfc Aaron Johnson, Indiana Army National Guard, heard of the combatives tournament from a training buddy, he knew he had to attend Throughout his life, Johnson has competed in nearly every type of fighting tournament, to include wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, jui-jitsu, and mixed martial arts leagues The National Guard Combatives Tournament was just another opportunity for Johnson to put his skills to the test, and he ended up winning the lightweight class against Spc Thomas Pfeiffer, Washington Army National Guard

"It's pretty crazy putting grappling, pancrase, and then the final fight the last day," said Johnson "It is definitely wear and tear on your body"

Even though teams were competing against each other, Johnson did not have a ring-side coach and had to enlist a couple of team coaches for help Maj Andrew Heymann, Georgia Army National Guard, coached for Johnson in the intermediate round, and for the finals Johnson got the help of Guam National Guard coaches Master Sgt Allen Blend and Spc Kenji Okiyama

One of the few females to compete in the tournament was Staff Sgt Kailey Carlson, Minnesota National Guard, who had to battle it out in a 3-person round robin for featherweight starting in the intermediate round

"I started doing jui-jitsu about two years ago and then moved to train at the Academy with Greg Nelson," said Carlson "I almost primarily train with guys, but almost never usually someone my own size, so it was a nice experience to fight against guys who were closer to my weight"

Spc Miles McDonald, Missouri Army National Guard, wrapped up featherweight with a rear chokehold submission against Sgt Terry Hams, Alaska Army National Guard, in the final championship rounds

The most congested weight class was cruiserweight, 185 pounds, with 24 Guardsmen competing for the title Even with his head bandaged, Cpt Matthew Jukkala, Minnesota Army National Guard, took the cruiserweight title by submission against Cadet John Moser, Guam Army National Guard

Hammer fist technical knockouts closed out the light heavyweight division for champion Staff Sgt Brian Friedrichs and heavyweight champion Sgt. 1st Class Braden Simonet, both from Team Minnesota

"Overall it's a great tournament, and the numbers are growing," said Blend "So it's just a matter of time before it kicks off to the next level, thanks to the Warrior Training Center for putting this together"

by 1st Lt Michael Thompson, 78th Homeland Response Force, Georgia National Guard
21 March 2012

The team of Minnesota National Guard fighters and medals earned:

SSG Carlson, Kailey (E CO 2-147 AHB) " Bronze medal
SGT Hoyt, Devin (HHC 2-136 CAB)
SPC Bhupram, Derek (HHC 34th CAB) " Fourth place finish
2LT Elson, David (B Btry 1-151)
SGT Minette, Adam (849th MAC)
CPT Williamson, Bernie (HHC 2-147 AHB)
SGT Latsch, Geoffrey (257th MP CO)
SGT Lincoln, Cody (E CO 2-136 CAB) " Gold medal
SGT Brekke, Gerald (434th CHEM CO)
CPT Jukkala, Matt (849th MAC) " Gold medal
SSG Martell, Seth (A CO 2-136 CAB) " Silver medal
SFC Friedrichs, Brian (C CO 1-194 AR) " Gold medal
SGT Thiebault, Brandon (850th HEC)
SFC Simonet, Braden (2-175th RTI) " Gold medal
1LT Chad Malmberg, Coach and Deputy OIC
CPT Joachim Eitenmiller, MN Combatives Competition Team OIC

The Minnesota Army National Guard is holding team tryouts on May 19th at Camp Ripley, MNĀ  Interested Soldiers must contact CPT Joachim Eitenmiller (joachimeitenmiller@us.army.mil) as soon as possible in order to attend

Like the combatives team on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Minnesota-Army-National-Guard-Combatives/155576077806533

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