Got back from the Pan American Championships in Lima this week! I am very fortunate to have had such a wonderful trip. The tournament, Peru, and team bonding were really great this year.
The trip started so well! It was the first time I have ever flown Business class. Hanging with my two instructors, Sensei Gatchalian and Sensei Burns, in the lay flat seats with champagne was fun! And it came in handy once we were flying into the night… The seats that is…
Lima was a great place to be this time of year. The weather stayed in the 60’s and 70’s and we took advantage of it. We walked the streets and visited parks and landmarks. One park we went to had dozens and dozens of cats laying around and playing with anyone who came up to them. We saw several ancient Incan pyramids too. The first was around 200A.D. made of mud bricks and the other was about 200B.C. and it had bodies discovered inside of it.
My favorite site we visited had to be the Lima Cathedral. It was the oldest cathedral in South America and it held the bones of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Conquistador who conquered Peru. Sensei Burns and Sensei Gatchalian and I took a tour and it was not only interesting, but very informative to my own Catholic faith. I learned about the many tombs and relics inside the Cathedral and I also learned more about the Saints and Apostles.
After the Cathedral we ate at Pardo’s Chicken which is one of the well known Peruvian chains. Great stuff.
The tournament was so fulfilling in so many ways. I am blessed to play this sport, I am so blessed that my opponents and I were able to stay safe and fight to our best abilities. I fought Guatemala, Canada, and then Colombia to get to the final. To me taking the -75kg championship affirms my hard work, sweat, and pains. It also ended a year long thorn in my side. Losing to the home country in Argentina last year taught me a lot, and I absorbed my lessons. When I heard I would fight Peru in Peru this year, I was ecstatic and had no doubt that my new skills would translate. I am humbled to be Pan Am champ for a year again.
When the Open weight came along, I was in a great mindset. We had just barely lost Men’s team fighting to Ecuador, and in my match I had my first blisters all year open up on me and I had raw wounds on both feet. Luckily we had a great medical staff from the Greenville Hospital Systems come with our team! Trainer Katie O’Conner and Dr. Szeto were so helpful. I had my feet mummified and I was ready to go! I took on Guatemala, Argentina, and Venezuela in three great matches before I lost to El Salvador in the Quarterfinals. He is a good opponent and I will be fired up next time we meet. In repecharge I fought Canada to get to the Bronze medal match. My last fight of the tournament was my best, and I am happy to have it that way. My Bronze medal match with the Brazilian heavy weight will be one I remember forever. Despite being kicked out of the ring, straining a muscle in my shoulder, getting body slammed, and kicked in the head, I came back harder and harder each time to win 7-6. I am lucky to have a match like that and I will draw on this event for strength for the rest of my life.
I am so thankful for everyone in my life that helps me prepare for these events! Thanks to Travis Hintzel, Cesar Colunga, and Bryan Nixon for training with me! Sensei Tommy Hood, thank you for taking my chair! You did a fantastic job. Thank you to my sweet Morgan Halboth for keeping me focused, and for supporting me on my travels :). My Sensei, Brody Burns is the reason I am at this level. The person I have as my Sensei and Coach is a rare type who will give anything, anytime to see you succeed. I am blessed to have him in my life. I will always remember he and I talking in the hall before Open weight repecharge, or talking outside just after the fight. Thank you Sensei, here’s to many more! :)