Straight Blast Gym Grapplers Earn Medals at Pan American

Four-day event in California welcomed more than 1,500 competitors from around the world

By Beacon staff
From left to right: Leah Taylor, Travis Davison, John Diggins, Amanda Diggins

Straight Blast Gym competitors from Seattle, Portland, Whitefish and Kalispell met for the Pan American Championships in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in California last weekend.

The four-day event, held on the University of California campus at Irvine, welcomed over 1,500 competitors from around the world. Among those competing were Kalispell grapplers from Straight Blast Gym – Leah Taylor and Hamilton Ash.  Leah Taylor earned a silver medal in the black belt medium heavy women’s division. Ash was barely edged out by his opponent in his match that came down to a referee’s decision. They will both have another opportunity to compete at the World Championships in June.

From the Straight Blast Gym headquarters in Portland, Oregon, Coaches John Diggins and Amanda Diggins took on the competition in the Black Belt Men’s and Women’s divisions. John Diggins received second place in the Master 2 Heavy division. Amanda came home with a bronze medal in a very competitive middleweight category.

From SBG Seattle, gym owner Sonia Sillan won multiple matches in a row to win silver in the women’s blue belt division. After many years of dedicated practice and coaching, she was awarded her purple belt on the podium. Her student Michael Fletcher, who is a father and a husband, also competed at the blue belt level and strongly represented the gym.

“The Pan Ams is one the most prestigious Jiu Jitsu tournaments in the World and as usual our competitors from SBG rose to the occasion. I was again reminded that our athletes from Montana are some of the best in the world and they showed it by joining the world’s best on the awards podium. I couldn’t be prouder of our tribe and not just the competitors but also the training partners, volunteers, coaches and donors who all had a part in making this possible,” said Travis Davison, owner and head coach of Straight Blast Gym of Montana.

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