Grappling for the championship

Fiona Lacroix '22, Page editor

Training begins for wrestler and grappler Tristan Davis ’22 far before entering a tournament. To prepare for brackets Davis will be weighed in, then practice with larger and more experienced opponents.

Fresh off the end of wrestling season, Tristan Davis ’22 launched from the mat to first place in the expert teens division of the North American Grappling Association tournament.

The March 5 tournament at the Wayne Hype Center featured an array of weight classes and skill levels, most of which Davis had the opportunity to fight through. However, his journey to champion of the teen division began months before the matches.

“I went to Detroit Jiu Jitsu, which is a great gym,” Davis said. “Every round I get there is super hard and I always have to push myself. When I get ready for tournaments, I like to go with bigger people, that way when I’m in my own weight class, it feels easier, and everybody feels a bit lighter.”

Davis plays varsity soccer in the fall, wrestles in the winter, and is interested in an array of fighting types. The skills demanded from each sport make him a versatile opponent.

“Wrestling definitely helped, in fact, in the absolute division, since everybody was bigger than me and I was the lightest in the division I just had to outspeed everybody with wrestling,” Davis said. “That’s how I won my match against someone who was 35 pounds heavier than me.”

Before he could participate in the adult absolute division, Davis had to clear all of his under-18 opponents to become the teen champion. His favorite and most intense match was against his final teen opponent.

“I’d seen my opponent in a lot of tournaments before and I was kind of excited to go against him,” Davis said. “He kind of just tried to ankle lock me a lot and eventually I got past his guard, got into half guard, got into top mount, and I got a head and arm triangle.”

From there, Davis went for the pin, placing his bicep on one side of his opponent’s carotid artery on his neck, and pinned his opponent’s shoulder to the other and squeezed. His opponent didn’t tap, but the referee saw the opponent was going to throw up. The referee stopped the match, the opponent threw up, and Davis won via what the referees considered a verbal submission.

“His coach was trying to get me disqualified, saying that I elbowed him, but I had posted,” Davis said.

Posting is a coached move that encourages fighters to apply pressure to leverage and improve their position.

“For his coach to be like that was a little ridiculous,” Davis said, “I think he and his student had won tournaments before so he was a little salty that I beat him there.”

The contention and action of a match are exactly what excites Davis. So, his most enlightening and satisfying matches came further into the bracket.

Davis claimed first place in the expert teens division of the North American Grappling Association tournament. After the win, he advanced onto adult opponents. (Fiona Lacroix ’22)

“It was the brackets that I lost in the adult division that were the most rewarding, the teens were fun, but I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself there,” Davis said. “My last match in (the adult) bracket was against somebody who was literally 100 pounds heavier than me, and was when I really had fun. It’s the losses that show me what I need to work on and that’s what feels the most rewarding.”

After leaving the NAGA tournament a champion, Davis prepares for even more tournaments, in a variety of styles.

“I’m looking forward to more tournaments, and hopefully a couple of kickboxing fights this year,” Davis said. “I’ve got two more grappling tournaments coming up, and I’m talking with some promoters for some kickboxing fights, so hopefully before October I can get three kickboxing fights in.”