Club Sports News

Grand Slam Nationals draw 700 Taekwondo artists to Liberty

April 20, 2013  |  Lynchburg, Va. 

Leah Deaton fights in Saturday's competition at the new Schilling Center.

Liberty University's Tae Kwon Do team had 13 members compete in Friday's and Saturday's Jeff Doss Grand Slam Open Nationals in the new Schilling Center, which featured approximately 700 martial artists from across the country and around the world.

"It's like the hugest thing we've been to," said Leah Deaton, the Grand Champion in Adult Under Black Belt Forms who placed third in Adult Novice Women's Sparring.

She said the event was much different than any of the previous competitions the team has traveled to this year, such as Sunday's Virginia Collegiate Alliance of Taekwondo (VCAT) meet hosted by the University of Virginia and including teams from Virginia Tech, William & Mary, VCU, and American University.

"This is more just for fighting style," Deaton said Saturday. "Usually, we do Olympic style."

Zack Price, who placed first in Adult Intermediate Men's Sparring and fourth in Under Black Belt Forms, said the weekend competition hosted by Liberty was more combative.

"Continuous sparring is what we normally do," he said. "This kind of sparring is points sparring, which is more like boxing. It's more intense."

Price won three matches, including one against Flames teammate Sean Guilliams, to take the title in his division.

"For points sparring, it's one round for two minutes and the first one to win by two," he said, noting two points decided his final match. "The winner and the fight for second place were both tight."

The winners of the second division for sparring all bid off for the Grand Championship.

"When I went for the Grand, I won the first match, (but) it was really close," said Price, who was eliminated in the next round. "It wasn't just my belt, it was like an all-belt ring, so I had to fight almost a black belt."

Other place-winners for Liberty included CJ Johnson, who finished second in Adult Men's Black Belt Kenpo/Kajukenbo Forms; Taylor Farley, who came in second in both Adult Under Black Belt Traditional Weapons Forms and Adult Under Black Belt Musical Weapons Forms; April Handog, a freshman who earned second place in Adult Novice Women's Sparring; Christian Booth, who finished third in both Adult Under Black Belt Lightweight Continuous Sparring and Adult Intermediate Men's Sparring; Will Boggs, who took fourth in Adult Novice Men's Sparring; and Guilliams, who finished fourth in Adult Intermediate Men's Sparring.

"There were some international competitors coming from as far as India and a few from Puerto Rico," Flames head coach Jesse Wilson said. "The fact that we did as well as we did in this competition reflects on the dedication and effort put forth by each of these athletes." 

On Sunday, at the first official VCAT tournament of the year at UVa, the Flames sent five team members to compete with Deaton taking second place in Female Lightweight Novice Fighting; Booth claiming second in Heavyweight Intermediate Fighting; Handog finishing third in Female Lightweight Novice Fighting; and James Roy capturing third place in Black Belt Heavyweight Fighting.

By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

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