While waiting to go through the metal detectors at the NoGi Pan this morning, one may have wondered why they seem to have the same issues every year with apparently no effort towards improvement? Many of those who arrived early hoping to have time to warm-up for their 9am division were surprised to still be in line outside up until go time. I am curious that the IBJJF hasn’t figured out that if athletes are to be ready to go at 9am, they have to be able to get into the tournament beforehand, ideally with enough time to change and warm-up. Perhaps opening the doors an hour before the start time is necessary when requiring each person entering to go through one single metal detector just to get in the door.
It appeared, however, that everyone made it in time to compete, since some of the divisions did not begin on time. And per usual, there were those running around needing to purchase a new rashguard and/or a pair of shorts because they did not read the uniform requirements closely enough.
Most of the women’s divisions were relatively small, with some ladies having to bump up weight classes or only do the open for matches. However, everyone had a chance to fight, and no one had to walk away paying $120 just to watch a tournament (which happens sometimes).
Because their divisions tend to be small, most of the women know each other and/or have competed against each other before. The Pluma blue belt division saw this year’s Gi Pan Champ, Tamara Dominick (Fairfax Jiu-Jitsu), take the NoGi Gold as well. Kate Marshall (Team Link) took the gold in Featherweight with an armlock win in the final over new blue belt Hanyu Xiong (Marcelo Garcia) and Eva Tarnay (Yamasaki) won Lightweight. 2x Mundial Lightweight Bronze medalist Megan Lomonof (50/50 BJJ) and Kim Rice (Team Royce Gracie) won their weight at Medio and Meio-Pesado respectively, before they went on to battle it out for the Absolute title, with Kim coming out the victor via RNC. Sherri Mccann (Brazilian Top Team) won the Heavyweight division.
The Pluma purple belt division saw the 2012 Pan Silver medalist and Mundial Bronze medalist at blue belt, now a newly minted purple, Jillian DeCoursey (East Coast United Queens BJJ) take the division over veterans Melissa Biscardi (Toronto BJJ) and Jessie Carpenter (Team Jucao). As the only entrant for the Pena division, Abby Bork (Carlson Gracie), bumped herself up to Lightweight to fight Danielle Battiato (Alliance) and after a well-fought battle on both sides, Danielle won via triangle arm-lock. Middleweight found Ana Carolina Lima (Team Link) with the gold and 2012 World Champion Alison Tremblay (Brazilian Top Team) took gold in both the heavyweight division and the open. Roberta Quinones (American Top Team) won the only match in Purple Master to bring home gold at Heavyweight.
The Brown Belt divisions were extremely light this year with only one weight class with matches (Lightweight Master). Jennifer Russell (Gracie Elite) took the gold and jumped into the open to give Meio-Pesado Rachel Demara (Lloyd Irvin)her only match of the day. Rachel quickly finished Jennifer to take home the absolute title.
The black belt ladies were clearly preparing for the NoGi Worlds with this event. 2009 Pluma NoGi World Champion Sofia Amarante (The Avengers) weighing it at a whopping 118lbs in her jacket and shoes, won the Pena division (with a 125lb weight limit) with a kimura in her first match and a 2 point victory in one of the most exciting matches of the day between her and Jen Petrina (Marcelo Garcia). Their match prompted bystanders to comment that the women’s divisions are often more exciting than the men’s since no woman seems to be interested in eking out a win on points. The Meio-Pesado division brought familiar competitor Valerie Worthington (50/50 BJJ) up against none other than UFC Fighter Thiago Silva’s wife Thaysa Ramos da Silva (The Avengers), a legit BJJ Black Belt in her own right. In yet another exciting multi-positional exchange, the ladies showed their grit with Thaysa coming out the victor in the end by 2 points.
The last of the women’s divisions ended at almost exactly 7:30pm, with most competitors having arrived before 9am. A long day perhaps, but one filled with hardship, success, failure, team bonding, and new friendships. A day well met.