USA wins No Gi division at Grappling Worlds with nine champions

By Gary Abbott | Dec. 15, 2009, 3:25 p.m. (ET)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Led by nine individual champions, the United States dominated the team standings at the FILA Grappling World Championships, held at the Fort Lauderdale/Broward Convention Center on Saturday evening.

The USA won five of the six men's gold medals, and added four of the five women's gold medals. The USA was first in the standings for both the men and women's division, followed by France and Canada in both divisions. USA Grappling National Coach Ricardo Liborio was ecstatic with the effort of the American team.

Defending his Grappling World title with his second straight gold medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. was Raphael Davis (Lomita, Calif. /Team Caique) who stopped Jose Rodenas of Spain in the finals, 3-1.

Two of the men's finals were rematches of the finals of the 2009 U.S. Grappling World Team Trials, and all ended the same way this time.

At 66 kg/145.5 lbs., World Team Trials champion Tom LeCuyer (Plano, Ill./Atlas XT/Torres MA) defeated World Team Trials runner-up Dennis Prokopos, Milbrae, Calif. (10th Planet Jiu Jitsu) in the finals, 1-0. LeCuyer was a World bronze medalist last year.

At 84 kg/185 lbs., 2008 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestler Ben Askren (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) defeated 2008 Grappling World champion Jacob Volkmann (White Bear Lake, Minn./MMMA) in a very competitive finals, 3-1. All of the points were scored in the last minute of the bout. Askren, who was a two-time NCAA champion at Missouri, beat Volkmann, a three-time All-American at Minnesota, in the Grappling Trials finals.

The other individual men's champions were also World Team Trials champions, Zach Makovsky (Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia Fight Factory) at 60 kg/132 lbs. and Kelly Anundson (Columbia, S.C./Black Knight WC) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.

Makovsky defeated Matt Betzold (Phoenix, Ariz./Gracie Barra Lions Den) in the finals, 7-2. Betzold is a left-leg amputee who dazzled fans with his exciting grappling.

Anundson defeated Brandon Ruiz (West Jordan, Utah/Grappler's Edge) in the finals, 4-0. It was the second straight year that Ruiz won a World Grappling silver medal.

All of the men's champions were college wrestlers: Makovsky (Drexel), LeCuyer (Northern Illinois), Askren (Missouri), Davis (Cal-State Bakersfield), Anundson (Newberry).

In the women's division, all of the champions captured round-robin tournaments to claim the title.

The individual U.S. champions were Felicia Oh (Valencia, Calif./Big John McCarthy's UTA) at 50 kg/110 lbs., Jessica Aguilar (Coconut Creek, Fla./American Top Team) at 59 kg/130 lbs., Sara McMann (Gaffney, S.C./Sunkist Kids) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Tori Adams (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 67 kg/147.5 lbs.

Oh's victory was perhaps the most surprising. She was defeated by 2008 Grappling World Champion Lisa Ward (Lacey, Wash./Victory Athletics) in the morning session. Oh won her evening round-robin match against Sam Stewart of Canada. However, Ward was upset by young American Tammi Musumeci (Wellington, Fla./American Top Team) in her final bout. Oh won the tiebreaker, by scoring the most classification points in the tournament at the weight class.

McMann, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, edged 2009 Grappling World Team Trials champion Shayna Baszler (Sioux Falls, S.D./CSW/Next Edge), 1-0 in the deciding final round-robin match.

Adams, a past Junior World medalist in freestyle wrestling, defeated athletes from four nations to take her gold medal. The key victory came in the last round, when she beat 2008 Grappling World champion Romy Ruyssen of France, 3-0.

Aguilar had clinched her gold medal during the morning session, winning both of her roundrobin matches.

The Grappling World Championships conclude on Sunday, with the Gi division, as well as the Open division in No-Gi.