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Locals Keaton, Matthews strong in NAGA Championships

Locals Tori Keaton won the NAGA Championship Belt and David Matthews took home the Warrior Sword in the North American Grappling Association Championships that were held on Feb. 27 in Fort Walton, Fla.

Keaton, who is in the girls 13-14 year old age group and the 106-pound weight class in the expert division, won all of her matches, the belt and the gold medal.

Only competitors in the expert level can go for the belt and it is awarded to one person from each weight class at the expert level.

Matthews, who is in the intermediate, 14-15 year old age group and 115-pound weight class, won two gold medals. He also won the sword from the association.

The sword is awarded like the belt, but the competitor cannot lose any matches to win it.

Both won six matches.

Keaton and Matthews are part of the Mean Monkeys Jiu-Jitsu Academy that is run by Jesse Hodges.

Keaton and Matthews were two of the six competitors from the Mean Monkeys Jiu-Jitsu Academy that competed in the event.

Jewel Herbert won silver. He is in the beginner, in the  50-pound weight class, 8-year old age group.

Anthony Moody, who is in the same group as Herbert, took third.

Sean Pierce won two silver medals.

Michael Pierce was a bronze-medal winner.

Sean Pierce is in the 16-year old division, 100-pound weight class in the intermediate level. Michael Pierce is in the 12-year old group, 70-pound in the intermediate level.

All the competitions are divided up by age, rank and weight.

Hodges said his group did a phenomenal job.

“They’ve done extremely well. We don’t sandbag our kids. They play up in rank. Tori just dominated for the belt. She really took it. I couldn’t be any more proud. David came alive in this tournament. He didn’t slack. He made weight and made short work of his opponents. He finished them off. That’s what I liked about it. We’re submission hunters. We don’t rock the clock and leave it to the judges, we go for submissions,” Hodges said.

COURTESY PHOTO
Tori Keaton is pictured with the NAGA Championship Belt.