The LEAGUE celebrated its 10th year Anniversary Celebration of WORLD LEAGUE X with hundreds in attendance. The Peppermill Resort Ballroom was decked out with Greek Symbols and the appearance of Deities such as the stunning Aphrodite, the combative Artemis, the illustrious Hera, the war-like Aries, and the almighty Zeus.
The Friday Opening Ceremonies kicked off with the James “Maggie” Megellas ALL-AMERICAN HERO AWARD being presented to young upstart Trace Megellas of Dallas, Texas and Team T-Force Elite. The All-American Hero Award is presented to the LEAGUE athlete that best embodies a true American in spirit, action, and ambition. USA military hero, LTC James Megellas, was in attendance and led a touching presentation to his grandson, Trace. Trace was chosen for this award as he tirelessly worked to educate sport martial art skills through seminars and competitions all across the U.S. and Mexico. It was certainly a touching moment for Maggie to have his grand son as the first recipient of the award that was named on his behalf.
Soon after, more than 25 Dojo Teams were introduced and crossed the Peaks of Olympus Main Stage. Fresno native and Art of Shotokan Team member, Jesse Dedmon, was then presented with his fourth straight Overall Point Leader Award. Dedmon amassed the most point throughout 11 LEAGUE Conferences. Young martial artist, Bo Volynsky-Krug, and Rookie Official, Jonathan Naraja Jr. led the Competitive Oath and Officials Oath respectively before President, Sean Dumlao proudly recited the Declaration for the World League Finals X to begin.
Kobe Shaw of Mesquite,TX was victorious in five separate kata divisions, collecting five World Titles. The charismatic eight year old was especially awe-inspiring in his musical weapons division, where he spun his Bo vigorously around his neck in unison with a 720 jump spin kick combo. Shaw is another name player in youth divisions to remember for years to come.
Young phenom, Seth Lee of Hollywood, CA won the Junior 10-13yrs. Black Belt Creative Forms division. The clean-cut, extreme kata performer has superstar written all around him, as he nabbed the title with a wonderfully executed creative form.
The back-and-forth rivalry between Roseville,CA’s Aaron Williams and Dallas,TX’s Trace Megellas came to a head when the two competitive teenagers squared off in four separate divisions. When the dust cleared, nothing was truly settled as Williams nabbed the 14-17yr. old Black Belt Creative & Creative Weapon divisions. While Megellas grabbed the 14-17yr. old Musical Creative & Musical Weapon divisions. Both athletes are absolute studs in performance execution and should be creative kata stars when they make that transition into the adult divisions in the very near future.
In Adult Black Belt Katas, notable Divisional Champions included Nathan Fort of Hollister,CA (Musical & Creative Weapons), Jim Dedmon of Fresno,CA (30yrs+ Traditional Weapons & Traditional Katas), Marco Diaz Jr. of San Jose,CA (Creative Katas), Mikel Recinos (18-29yrs Traditional Weapons), Frederico Paez of Mexico City,MX (30yrs+ Kajukenbo Katas), Mike Guido of Fresno, CA (18-29yrs Korean/Okinawan Katas), and Jilmy Ruiz Pena of the Dominican Republic (18-29yrs. Kajukenbo Katas). One of the most intriguing highlights of the Adult Black Belt Kata faceoffs, was when Dedmon came out as the character, Raiden, from the video game Mortal Kombat. He entered the competition ring sweeping the mat with a push broom in character costume, and proceeded to twist off the broom end and then executed a skillful bo form thereafter. He lost out to Fort in the end but the creativity of the entire performance deserves a ton of praise.
The Junior Boys 6-7yr old Intermediate Point Sparring division, two young warriors collided as #2 seed Jesus De La Cruz and #1 seed Jaden Tiu fought three consecutive nail biting fights to excite the onlooking crowd. Tiu made his mark early as he defeated De La Cruz convincingly with a 7-to-4 win in the first matchup, scoring often on several stall-body blitzes. But the resilient De La Cruz came back with two consecutive one point victories in the next two matches, winning 8-to-7 in the second round and 7-to-6 in the third round. De La Cruz connected on timely blitzes and a couple of head kicks to stay ahead and win the title. These two high impact athletes will certainly be the future superstars of the LEAGUE.
Two future Titans continued a stalwart of youth fighting on the Main Stage as two #1 seeds electrified the arena with their execution. Kaine Garcia of Tulare,CA and TJ Coulter of Reno,NV held the crowd at the palm of their hands in the Junior Boys 6-7yr. old Beginner Point Sparring division. Earlier, lower seed Chauntelle DeLeon of Tracy,CA won four consecutive fights before being eliminated by Coulter and Garcia in the Final Seeded Round. In the first head-to-head championship matchup, Garcia and Coulter erupted upon each other a full head of steam. Garcia won the first fight 6-to-5. In the second round, Coulter began throwing nifty fade away hook kicks. Garcia answered back with dynamic upward spin kicks. When the dust cleared Garcia won the second fight versus Coulter at a 6-to-3 scoring mark and walking away with the Divisional Title.
Cerebral female fighters impressed in the Junior Girls 12-13yr. old Black Belt Point Sparring division. Kayla Miyamoto of Hercules,CA and Sophia Flores of Vacaville,CA were two of the LEAGUE’s best female fighters in 2014. Their first matchup was methodical, as Miyamoto scored often on reverse punches while Flores steadied herself with whipping lead leg side kicks. Miyamoto pulled away 4-to-1 in the first round. In round two, it was much the same story and Miyamoto won the title with a 5-to-2 score.
One of the most exciting groupings in Point Sparring in 2014 has been the Junior Boys 10-13yrs. old fighters. Each divisional title winner could be tomorrow’s next adult superstar fighter. Winners included Maximo Torres of Sparks,NV, (10-11yrs. Beginner), Isaiah Felix of Rodeo,CA (10-11yrs. Intermediate), Alejandro Alamilla of Tracy,CA (10-11yrs. Advanced), Sean Magallanes of Pittsburgh, CA (10-11yrs. Black Belt), TJ Carrothers of Hercules,CA (12-13yrs. Beginner), Kenohe Leonor of Tracy,CA (12-13yrs. Intermediate), QJ Pastor of Pinole,CA (12-13yrs. Advanced), and Santana Riveraof Tulare,CA (12-13yrs. Black Belt).
It was a clean sweep for Castro Sport Karate teammates Harlie Curiel and Ahmanni Scott. Curiel won the 16-17yrs. Advanced Sparring Division and Scott won the 16-17yr. old Black Belt Sparring Division. The devastating tandem forms a solid one-two punch and each held it down for Team CSK with convincing victories in their individual divisions.
For the Men’s Black Belt Point Sparring, the competition was fierce and thrilling as some of the game’s best were at full display. In the 18-29yrs. Men’s Super Light Weight division, MJ Amba of Sparks,NV fended off Mexico City’s Emmanuel Loredo and the Dominican Republic’s Jilmy Ruiz Pena. Amba’s body blitz was near unstoppable, defeating Loredo in the final match 6-to-3 to win the title.
In the 18-29yrs. Lightweight Division, Diego Rosales won a title for Mexico as he went undefeated versus Livermore’s Joseph Ventura and Mexico City’s Oscar Garrido. Rosales’ cunning moves and timely execution was key in each of his three victories in the division.
Team USA All-Stars member, Jamal Albini, was perhaps the most decorated fighter in the LEAGUE in 2014. He won the Northern California Triple Crown in Men’s Fighting, he demolished his division at Southern California’s COMPETE INTERNATIONALS, and perhaps his most impressive victory was winning Overall Grands at the U.S. OPEN in Orlando, FL in July. In the Middleweight division, Albini would have to defeat both Armando Espinoza of Tulare,CA and Juan Gualito of Mexico City,MX to complete his 2014 LEAGUE season. Mainly connecting on opportune defensive side kicks, Albini fended off the two talented and feisty challengers and won the Middleweight divisional title.
In the 18-29yrs. Heavyweight Division, Luis Guevara of Mexico City,MX and Brandon Nunley of Pittsburgh,CA pounded each other like two angry Titans. Nunley connected relentlessly with surging body blitzes. While Guevara countered with an astounding kicking prowess that kept Nunley at bay. Guevara won the first head-to-head matchup 7-to-5. Soonafter, Nunley forced a third matchup as he won the second fight 8-to-7. In the deciding third round, Guevara won the marathon faceoff with an 8-to-6 Title clinching fight.
The high level of fighting continued in the 30yrs+ Men’s Sparring Divisions, as Chris Eugenio of Vacaville,CA won six consecutive fights to impressively win the Lightweight Division as a Wildcard. Manny Bujold of Agoura Hills, CA snatched away the Middle Weight Division with whipping roundhouse kicks and laser beaming step-in reverse punches. There were no dull moments in the Heavyweight Division, as Livermore’s Wade Taylor wooed the fans with his dynamic and vibrant fight style. Taylor won four consecutive fights to win the Divisional Title. He went on to defeat Bujold to win the 30yrs+ Men’s Overall Sparring Grand.
In the “HEROES OF OLYMPUS CLOSING CEREMONY” on Saturday Night, several athletes won Overall Grands. QJ Pastor defeated Santana Rivera to win the Boys 10-13yrs. Old Overall Point Sparring Grand. Kayla Miyamoto defeated Alyssa Dumlao to win the Girls 10-13yrs. Old Overall Point Sparring Grand. Sean Magallanes beat Noah Fort in the 10-13yrs. Kata Grands. While Aaron Williams defeated Trace Megellas in their 5th head-to-head battle of the weekend in the 14-17yrs. Junior Kata Grands. Mike Guido won the Adult Overall Kata Grand over Jim Dedmon and Mikel Recinos. While Jamal Albini defeated Diego Rosales to win the Men’s Black Belt Overall Sparring Grand.
For the second straight year the LEAGUE rewarded two deserving scholar athletes with a LEAGUE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP AWARD, as Texas’ Nikolas Charalambides and California’s Aaron Williams were recipients in 2014.
The LEAGUE promoted a coveted Triple Crown Award in 2014. Athletes had to win 3-out-of-4 Overall Grands in their divisional and age class to receive the award. Eleven athletes earned a 2014 Triple Crown Award as Bryce Vu (9&under Adv/Black Belt Traditional Katas), Jolina Aguigui (10-13yrs. Novice Traditional Katas), Jason Adams (10-13yrs. Intermediate Traditional Katas), Trace Megellas (14-17yrs Creative Katas & Creative Weapons), QJ Pastor (12-13yrs. All Ranks Boys Sparring), Josiah Nunley (14-17yrs All Ranks Boys Sparring), Jamal Albini (18yrs+ Mens Black Belt Sparring), Andrei Carpo (18yrs+ Men’s Underbelt Sparring), Jasmine Miyamoto (14-17yrs All Ranks Girls Sparring), Mike Guido (18yrs+ Adult Black Belt Katas), and Kathryn Kaldunski (18yrs+ Nov/Int/Adv Adult Katas).
The 2014 LEAGUE MVP’s were then announced by Vice President Tony Kattengell as the Junior Girls Kata MVP went to Fairfield, CA’s Jolina Aguigui. Tracy, CA’s Christian Doucet won the Junior Boys Kata MVP. While Livermore,CA’s Alexis Aying notched the Junior Girls Sparring MVP. The Junior Boys Sparring MVP went to Pinole,CA’s QJ Pastor. While the Adult Sparring MVP went to Pinole,CA’s Jamal Albini and Mike Guido won the Adult Kata MVP.
LEAGUE Promoters announced the Conference Players of the Year as Cole Brandon (Nevada Conference), Frederico Paez (Mexico Conference), Garrett Kahl (Los Angeles Conference), Jaanki Patel (Northern California Triple Crown Conference), Manny Sosa (Northern California Elite Conference), and Nikolas Charalambides (Lone Star Conference) each earned a respective award with their performances this year.
The Team of the Year awards were presented to Raul Castillo of Half Moon Bay,CA, Amba Martial Arts of Sparks,NV, Shir Martial Arts of Dublin,CA, Team T-Force Elite of Dallas,TX, Garcia’s Shotokan of Tulare,CA, Pallen M2 of San Ramon,CA, Unisa Kamiiza of San Francisco,CA, Mexico Top Ten of Mexico City,MX, Nunley’s Karate-Do of Pittsburgh,CA, Taylor’s Martial Arts of Livermore,CA, and Dumlao’s Martial Arts of Pinole,CA. It was the pursuit and passion of Art of Shotokan of Fresno,CA all season long that earned the Mike Guido/Mickey Finn led dojo the 2014 TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD.
Overall, it was an unbelievable season for all athletes, dojos, referees, staff, and spectators involved in the LEAGUE in 2014. The Saturday Night Closing Ceremony ended with each Divisional Title Winner crossing the Main Stage and receiving their World Title Ring by the LEAGUE Governing Body and taking pictures with seven of the Greek Deities atop the reconstructed Mount Olympus Stage. We look forward to hosting yet another themed WORLD LEAGUE FINALS XI in October of 2015!!