Ross MA team nets 13 medals

Team photo - Pictured are members of the Ross Martial Arts Fight Team (left to right): Front row - Ronda Russell, Brett Schroeder, Dre Pruitt; Second Row - Daniel Alexander, A.J. Pruitt, Jay Russell, Tristen Fitz-Gerald, Makiyha Lewis, Anthony Baze, Ron Ross, Franklin Richardson, Ethan Garrick, Nikki Smith. Not pictured are Collin Morgan and Matt Trest.

Team photo – Pictured are members of the Ross Martial Arts Fight Team (left to right): Front row – Ronda Russell, Brett Schroeder, Dre Pruitt; Second Row – Daniel Alexander, A.J. Pruitt, Jay Russell, Tristen Fitz-Gerald, Makiyha Lewis, Anthony Baze, Ron Ross, Franklin Richardson, Ethan Garrick, Nikki Smith. Not pictured are Collin Morgan and Matt Trest.

Ross Martial Arts & Fitness Academy’s grappling team captured four regional titles Saturday, Oct. 26 at the North American Grappling Association’s 2013 Southeast Regional Championships in Riverdale, Ga.

A team of eight competitors brought home two championship belts, two championship swords, and 13 medals from the gi and no gi grappling competition hosted annually by NAGA. The wins included four Southeast U.S. regional titles with three of those titles in the expert divisions.

“We’ve won some regional championships in past years,” Ross MA instructor Jay Russell said, “but this is the first time any of our competitors have claimed titles in the expert divisions.”

Russell said that NAGA has four levels of competition based on fighters’ years of experience in training: novice, beginner, intermediate, and expert.

Ross Fight Team members who captured Southeast U.S. Regional championships were Ronda Russell, expert women’s no gi and gi featherweight divisions; Brett Schroeder, expert 14-15 year-old boys gi lightweight division; and Collin Morgan, intermediate 8-9 year-old boys gi middleweight division.

Russell said Schroeder, who is 12 years-old, stepped up to compete in the older youth division to provide a competitor for a 14-year old who was near his weight class. He added that Ronda, his wife and fellow instructor at Ross MA, was competing in the expert division for the first time at this tournament after receiving her purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu three months ago.

Ronda Russell's hand is raised in victory after winning the women's featherweight expert no gi championship at the NAGA Southeast Regional Championships in Atlanta, GA.

Ronda Russell’s hand is raised in victory after winning the women’s featherweight expert no gi championship at the NAGA Southeast Regional Championships in Atlanta, GA.

“All of the fighters who won titles put on fantastic performances,” Russell said, “but I have to give Collin the submission of the day award for pulling off a very advanced inverted triangle choke to tap out one of his opponents.”

Other awards the team won were: Schroeder, second place in 14-15 year-old expert gi, second place in 12-13 year-old gi, and third in 12-13 year-old no gi; Morgan, second in 8-9 year-old middleweight no gi; Ron Ross, second place in no gi beginner men’s super heavyweight directors division; Nikki Smith, second place in intermediate women’s 18 and up no gi and gi middleweight divisions; Franklin Richardson, second place in both gi and no gi for beginner men’s light heavyweight divisions; Tristen Fitz-Gerald, second place in both gi and no gi for 16-17 year-old expert welterweight divisions; and Matt Trest, third place in the no gi 16-17 year-old novice featherweight division.

“Some of those second place finishes don’t tell the whole story of the challenges some of our fighters overcame at this tournament,” Russell added. “Ron, who is 66, competed against guys in their 40s; Nikki, who is a white belt, beat a blue belt in one of her gi matches; and the other guys all faced more experienced opponents at different times during the day.”

The Ross Fight Team is sponsored by Fitz-Gerald Clinic, Chu Clinic, Demopolis MedCenter, Holiday Cleaners/Batter Up Sports Bar & Grill, Southern Pipe, and Vowell’s Fresh Market.

The team at Ross Martial Arts & Fitness Academy, 1014 Highway 80 East in Demopolis, will spend the next few months adding to their physical conditioning, refining techniques, and adding new moves to their arsenals in preparation for the sixth annual Complete Martial Arts Seminar & Challenge here in Demopolis in January.

Nikki Smith claims a silver medal in the women's intermediate middleweight division at the NAGA Southeast Regional Championships in Atlanta, GA.

Nikki Smith claims a silver medal in the women’s intermediate middleweight division at the NAGA Southeast Regional Championships in Atlanta, GA.

Collin Morgan poses with the championship sword he won in the 8-9 year-old intermediate boys middleweight division at the NAGA Southeast Regional Championships in Atlanta, GA.

Collin Morgan poses with the championship sword he won in the 8-9 year-old intermediate boys middleweight division at the NAGA Southeast Regional Championships in Atlanta, GA.