Island Top Team athletes celebrate medal-winning performances at the Vancouver Island Open grappling tournament this past weekend in Victoria. (Photo submitted)

Top Team athletes become Vancouver Island grappling champions

Nanaimo Brazilian jiu-jitsu club excelling at events throughout the region

Island Top Team athletes capitalized on a rare opportunity to become Island champions in their sport.

The Nanaimo Brazilian jiu-jitsu club had a contingent of competitors at the Vancouver Island Open grappling tournament on Saturday in Victoria, and had numerous top-three results.

Sienna Miller continued her streak of success, noted an Island Top Team press release, as she won gold in both her white belt gi and no gi divisions. Kiona Miller won gold in no gi and bronze in white belt gi. Shone Merrill took gold in gi white belt with an incredible late comeback victory via armbar in the finals, the press release noted. He also got a bronze in no gi.

Among adults, Dwayne Johnston made his return after a couple of years away from competition and submitted all but one of his opponents en route to winning his weight class and open weight absolute in his masters blue belt gi category. Chris Merrill and Josh Jackson were both winners in their blue belt gi and no gi classes and Monica Bonczak won blue belt no gi for her weight class and for absolute. Jackson and Bonczak both submitted all their opponents. Milo Noel took gold in white belt gi and silver in no gi in his competitive debut.

Also, Aidan Parker took bronze in white belt gi and no gi, Levi Moes and Peyton Young each earned silver in white belt no gi, and Titus Rae got bronze in blue belt gi and no gi.

Athletes among the best in the Pacific Northwest

The results followed up great results from the Pacific Northwest Open in North Vancouver in late May.

At that tournament, Cal McDonald led Island Top Team with four gold medals in his weight class and the absolute weight divisions both in brown belt gi and no gi advanced. Kevin Wong won three gold medals, with four of his wins coming via a rare ankle-lock submission called the Caio Terra lock. Bonczak, Sienna Miller and Shone Merrill were double gold medallists and other gold medallists included Chris Merrill, Noah Barth and Island Top Team instructor Rob Biernacki.

“All in all one of our best team performances ever, cementing our reputation as one of the best BJJ academies in the Pacific Northwest,” Biernacki said in a press release.

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