Small team, big success: SBG Bigfork team does well at Missoula Jiu Jitsu tournament
Coach Cody Bessette (top) celebrates with his students Helene, Elin and Gunnarr Rolston (middle) and Tanner Browning at the American Grappling Federation tournament in Missoula. (photo provided)
With only five competitors (three kids, one teen, and one adult) SBG Bigfork brought home a whopping 20 medals this past weekend at the American Grappling Federation tournament in Missoula.
Elin Rolston, Gunnarr Rolston, Helene Rolston, Tanner Browning and Daniel Leon trained vigorously leading up to the event and it was certainly evident on the mats as the team collectively took home 14 gold medals, four silver, and two bronze.
“I am blown away by the dedication shown by all five competitors and their willingness to put their skills to the test in a highly competitive environment,” coach Cody Bessette said.” Our team showed composure, humility and excellent sportsmanship. The hours upon hours of practice paid off. And a huge thank you to the Gorilla Booster Club for making it possible for competitors to travel out of the area to compete.”
American Grappling Federation hosts tournaments with Gi and NoGi brackets as well as “Challenger” divisions which allow youth competitors to take on opponents of any rank or age within a similar weight class.
The Adult Challenger divisions are structured a bit differently and allow adults to compete at their age and rank but with other weight classes.
Although SBG Bigfork was one of the smallest teams in attendance, they also managed to secure the third-place trophy for kids and slid into the fourth place overall out of 29 gyms in attendance.
Ten-year-old yellow/white belt Elin Rolston said, “I had a fun weekend. I love Jiu Jitsu and SBG Bigfork because it teaches me to keep going when I want to quit and when I’m tired.”
Gunnarr Rolston, a 9-year-old yellow/white belt took home six gold medals and said “I was successful this weekend and that goes to my coaches and teammates who helped me win.”
Helene Rolston, a 7-year-old yellow/white belt, also enjoyed the competition.
“I love competing and AGF was fun,” she said. “ I won two gold medals and one silver. I lost to my brother by points.” Helene continued by thanking her coach and teammates.
The Rolston kids head to Phoenix Arizona to compete in the Tap Cancer Out tournament this weekend and have raised funds to help families of kids fighting cancer.
The Rolston Family remains the Top Overall Fundraising team for this event with just over $5,000 raised and SBG Bigfork, including Barrett and Annora Nystrom (formerly of Bigfork,) remains the top fundraising team with nearly $10,000 in funds raised.