There were no third place awards, there were no second place awards, there was only Grand Champion awarded at the AZMARRS State Championship in Gilbert on Saturday, Jan. 23.
KC's Family Tae Kwon Do of Camp Verde and Cottonwood returned home with a whopping 17 State Grand Champion Titles to their credit, a new record for the organization. Twenty qualifying students from the school's two locations attended the tournament and 12 were crowned State Champion, with KC's Camp Verde Champions Cutter Frisch, Clayton Frisch, Amy Romero, Scott Queen, and Steven Mendez winning in two divisions each. Additionally, the KC's Cottonwood location, which just opened in September, boasted the school's very first State Champions in Sidney Burns and Tim Moser.
The competition started out with Beginner, Intermediate, then Advanced and Black Belts going head-to-head in Musical Forms, Weapons Forms, Open Hand Forms, and then Sparring. Forms divisions feature the competitor performing choreographed moves using punching, blocking and kicking skills appropriate for their Belt Level, and some adding extreme acrobatic moves for flair. At only age 8, Christopher Conover is one who incorporates these tricks that the "Extreme" Martial Arts are known for. He became a 3-Time State Champ when he won for the third consecutive year, competing in Advanced level Forms on Saturday. Conover went undefeated in his Forms division all season long.
Scott Queen, age 15, from KC's Camp Verde won in Advanced level Forms and Sparring. Like Conover, in forms he's also known to throw inverted moves and high level aerial kicks. But Queen's most exciting moment in the tournament, however, was when he battled and won against a tough opponent during his first sparring match, where his speed helped to bring home the win. Queen went on to spar fellow KC's student Larry Kelly, age 17, in the Championship round, ending up with the win after two-minutes of continuous sparring. Kelly, losing only in a narrow margin to Queen, didn't go home empty handed. He was crowned Champion in Advanced Musical Forms, having to compete against his own Dad, John. "I'm just really proud of both my boys who competed so hard at Championships today, it's great to be able to train alongside them at KC's," said John.
Kestrel Gorlick, age 12, is one of only three Black Belts from KC's who competed. He competed in Weapons and Musical Forms, bringing home the win in Musicals with inspiring moves and hand combinations, choreographed to the song "Through the Fire and Flames" by Dragonforce, made popular by the Guitar Hero video game. "In the Black Belt Divisions, the competition is fierce. The skill level ranges from someone who just got their black belt to those who've had it for years, and some who even compete at the National and World Championship level," said Head Instructor Karen Conover. Mrs. Conover attended the tournament as a coach for the students and performed the task of Ringside Judge with other School Owners and Instructors. "Kestrel is the first Black Belt student from KC's to win a State Title and we are so very proud of him for holding that honor." She went on to say that the school hopes to develop a team that regularly travels out of Arizona to compete at that higher level.
A tight-knit group of parents and fans accompanied the group to cheer them on during the tournament, sitting right in the front row. "It's one of the great things about our school, it's like we are family and we are just so happy and proud of everyone, even when they have to compete against one another. We cheer loud and proud," said parent Tracey Oium, whose daughter Jade was crowned Champion in Advanced Musical Forms.
Students and parents from the school also consider many students and parents from other schools friends, so it was a great day to be together and display pride for the martial artists no matter which school they attend.
This year marks the fourth year in a row that KC's has garnered more than 10 Arizona State Championship Titles, an outstanding credit considering the school has only been operating for four years in Camp Verde and a few short months in Cottonwood right next to Acme Pizzaria.
KC's offers classes for children and adults of the Verde Valley in American Freestyle tae kwon do, tumbling, cardio-kickboxing fitness class, yoga and Zumba (in Camp Verde only). For more information on the school, its competition programs, or how to try a free class, contact them at (928) 554-0140 Camp Verde, 634-5165 Cottonwood or on the web at www.kcfamilytkd.com.