Benning soldiers place high in combatives tournament

Out of the more than 300 soldiers who competed in the U.S. Army Combatives Invitational Tournament conducted at Fort Benning Oct. 4 and 5, two Benning fighters ranked amongst the top four in their weight divisions.

Sgt. Brandon Sayles claimed first place in the heavyweight division while Sgt. Tony Belasco placed fourth in the light heavyweight division.

The round robin-style combative championship was held at Smith Fitness Center on Dixie Road. Men and women from around the world competed for medals in seven weight divisions.

Modern Combatives is a functional mixed martial art form combining Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, clinch hitting, takedowns and groundfighting techniques. Combatives also employs techniques borrowed from judo, kick boxing and Greco-roman wrestling.

The U.S. Army Combatives School trains approximately 500 Soldiers at levels three and four every year. These Soldiers return to their units around the world to conduct training, according to Fort Benning's Public Affairs Office.

According to Fort Benning's public affairs office, the winners of the tournament were:

Flyweight –

1st – Spc. Jake Grillo, Fort Lewis, Wash.

2nd – Staff Sgt. Jeremy Taylor, Fort Sill, Okla.

3rd – Warrant Officer 1 Eric Deitrich, Fort Riley, Kan.

4th – Spc. Alberto Nunez, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Lightweight –

1st – Staff Sgt. Keith Bach, Fort Stewart, Ga.

2nd – Staff Sgt. William Haggerty, Fort Bragg, N.C.

3rd – Pfc. Anthony Hoermeman, Fort Richardson, Alaska

4th – Sgt. First Class William Clark, Fort Bragg, N. C.

Middleweight –

1st – Sgt. Joshua Winter, Fort Bragg, N.C.

2nd – Staff Sgt. Joshua Landspurg, Fort Bragg, N. C.

3rd – Sgt. Christopher Gordon, Italy

4th – Capt. Levi Lenon, Fort Stewart, GA

Cruiserweight –

1st – 1st Lt. Jason Norwood, Fort Sill, Okla.

2nd – Maj. Larry McCord, Fort Bragg, N.C.

3rd – Capt. Brandon Bear, Fort Riley, Kan.

4th – Staff Sgt Pete Dilley, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Welterweight –

1st – Sgt. Jason Kwast, Fort Bragg, N.C.

2nd - Capt. Neil Chitwood, USAAC, Columbus, OH

3rd – Sgt. Brian Stegemoller, Fort Lewis, Wash.

4th – Sgt. Chad Linz, Fort Riley, Kan.

Light heavweight –

1st – Master Sgt. John Long, Fort Bragg, N.C.

2nd – Staff Sgt. Andrew Ruff, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii

3rd – Sgt. 1st Class Jared Roy, Fort Detrick, Md.

4th – Sgt. Tony Belasco, Fort Benning, GA

Heavyweight –

1st –Sgt. Brandon Sayles, Fort Benning, GA

2nd – Staff Sgt. Benzell Vereen, Fort Sill, Okla.

3rd – Staff Sgt. Ruben Arriagga, Fort Bragg, N.C.

4th – Staff Sgt. Jeff Deickman, Fort Sam Houston, Texas

Team awards were also presented to –

1st (TIE) – 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. And I Corps, Fort Lewis, Wash.

2nd – 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.

3rd – 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.