Fifty service members competed Jan. 28-30 in the seventh 10th Mountain Division Combatives Tournament at Magrath Sports Complex.
While many Soldiers in the division are currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of overseas contingency operations, Soldiers who are still stationed here consider events like this to be extremely beneficial for training.
Soldiers like Pfc. Damien Fraser, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, also see tournaments like this as a chance to interact with others while most of their unit is deployed.
“There’s not as much down time, so if we are participating in something that will benefit the Soldier physically, mentally and spiritually … I think this is probably extremely beneficial because it might have a lot of value for Soldiers who can’t properly displace anger,” Fraser said. “I felt that is was probably the best thing I have experienced here at (Fort) Drum in my two years.”
Staff Sgt. Ryan Beshaw, 1-87 Infantry medical platoon sergeant, agreed.
“It definitely helps division morale; it gives Soldiers who aren’t deploying something to do, something to look forward to,” he said.
Combatives have always been an integral part of military life. In a combat-centered profession, many Soldiers appreciate the chance to engage in the physically demanding, military fighting style with their fellow Soldiers. Divisionwide combatives tournaments help build unit cohesion and morale.
“I believe that the combatives program is a good way for Soldiers to do a couple different things,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shane Hankey, Light Fighters School combatives noncommissioned officer in charge. “One, they stay physically fit; two, it makes them more disciplined and more motivated to do Army training; and three, it helps (Soldiers relieve stress) in a safe, controlled environment.”
Not only do participants get the chance to engage in a fun and challenging competition, they can also earn the chance to advance in combatives throughout the Army.
“I run five (tournaments) a year,” Hankey said. “Out of those tournaments, the Soldiers (who) win can fight to get picked to go compete at the All-Army Combatives Tournament.”
Keeping with military tradition, the five tournaments that take place during the year also give Soldiers at Fort Drum an opportunity to prove their merit in their skill. Competitors put maximum effort into every fight.
“They are competing to the best of their abilities and showing that the combatives program is definitely going forward,” Beshaw said.
Hankey added that competitions and the training that goes into preparing for them will benefit Soldiers while they are deployed as well.
“Every Soldier deserves the chance to be a champion in anything we do, so to be able to organize this and get Soldiers here competing and fighting for something, it motivates them to train harder,” he explained.
“It makes them better as a Soldier,” Hankey continued. “These Soldiers can go to combat and have no doubt that they will be able to defend themselves in a combat environment, and maybe save their battle buddies’ lives.”
The competitors were divided into six weight classes: lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, cruiserweight, light heavyweight and heavy weight. The top three competitors in each weight class received a medal during a ceremony Jan. 30.
The top winners in each weight class were as follows:
* Lightweight – Spc. Todd C. Livingston, 642nd Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade.
* Welterweight – First Lt. Rudy J. Chelednik, 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade.
* Middleweight – Sgt. Scott W. Randall, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
* Cruiserweight – Spc. Benjamin J. Walker, Task Force Six Shooter, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
* Light heavyweight – First Lt. Jason L. Reedy, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
* Heavyweight – Spc. Richard Bagu, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.