On Saturday, Dec. 9, the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu gym in Altus was deserted. It would remain that way for the weekend, its usual inhabitants some three hours away at the Nytex Sports Centre in North Richland Hills, Texas.
For this group, there was no bigger event than the North American Grappling Association’s Dallas World Championships. For the first time, 10th Planet Altus was well represented at a big time tournament and once there, each competitor did what he or she could to put Altus on the map.
Coach Jason Greer said he was proud of the way his team competed but that there was something else that impressed him more.
“Seeing the team go out and compete to the best of their ability…” Greer said, “and leave everything out there on the mats is definitely a proud moment, but to hear the referees and other coaches tell me how respectful our guys were at the tournament when someone didn’t have a match go their way, or even just in passing, those moments make me so proud to be alongside these hard working people of all ages.”
Nine competitors traveled to Texas to compete. Between the nine, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu earned 16 podium places. Some of those nine even tried their hand in different weight and experience classes. Greer said it was all in an effort to learn, grow and push themselves farther than even they thought possible.
In the kids’ division, first-place finishes were earned by Michael Greer, Kaileigh Harrison, Jacob Maley and Marvin Alexander in their respective weight classes. Raelynn Thompson finished second in several events and Paige Dial and Izabelle Willey finished third.
In the teens and adult division, Maley and Krista Camarillo competed with Maley winning an event and placing second in another and Camarillo placing second in her event.
Greer said the team practices, competes and grows as a family and each member of his team is always there to help when needed.
“Working towards being great people is what we’re all about,” Greer said. “Our team lifts each other up when someone needs a hand and rallies around everyone who is going to compete. The camaraderie the team has built is definitely a family atmosphere and it shows everywhere they go.”
Greer also said that watching the girls and boys on his team push themselves is a dream come true to him and that more than anything, he enjoys watching the team excel after all the hard work that has been put in on the mats.
“The team has made 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Altus an amazing place to train,” Greer said. “I love watching their hard work pay off. There’s no time for rest. We are running straight out of this tournament and getting ready to go to Tulsa in January. I was out this time due to an injury, but I hope to be battling with my team in Tulsa.”
This tournament was a first for competitors Willey and Dial and Willey said this tournament has made her want to compete more.
“I did it for the fun of it and to learn how to be better at it,” Willey said. “Placing third felt amazing and I’m going to compete again.”
For Willey’s mother, Amy, she said she loves what this sport has done for her daughter’s confidence.
“I have watched my daughter’s confidence blossom since she started learning jiu jitsu,” Amy Willey said. “Jason has an amazing way of relating and encouraging the kids he teaches. They respect him and under his tutelage, they grow not only in skill but in self-confidence and character.”
Dial said jiu jitsu has been fun for her and she enjoys the challenge.
“I had a lot of fun and gained a lot of experience,” Dial said. “I like training at 10th Planet because there are a lot of kids my age, it’s challenging and different. I enjoyed representing 10th Planet at the tournament and cheering on all the other kids and teammates there.”
Dial’s father, Darin, said he is happy his daughter found something she loves and that she’ll continue to train at 10th Planet Altus.
“This was her first tournament,” Darin Dial said. “She has only been training since September and she will continue to train there and will participate in future competitions. Jason, the staff and other parents at 10th Planet are great with the kids and very supportive of all of them.”
For veterans, like Maley, this is just one more tournament in a year full of them.
“Competing is something I love to do,” Maley said. “I’ve been training for seven months and it felt great to win, but this wasn’t about winning. Next up, I’m bringing a belt home from Tulsa for 10th Planet Altus on January 27.”
And for some, like Michael Greer, it is the first time competing after a long hiatus.
“It felt great to be out there competing again after two years,” Michael Greer said. “It felt awesome to take gold in my division and I look forward to the next tournament. Jiu jitsu really helps me with wrestling and vice versa. I started wrestling a few weeks ago and I look forward to getting better at both. I just love being on the mats.”
For now, the group returns to the gym and prepares for the upcoming battle.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.