The 2021 ADCC East Coast Trials were the first trials on American soil for nearly two and a half years. The highly anticipated event was the biggest trials in history, with multiple division champions having to win seven matches for gold. Submission grappling is constantly evolving, as evidenced by the the constant influx of new athletes contending for the biggest titles in the sport every year. Although there were some familiar names competing in Atlantic City, there were also many new faces looking to earn their way to the 2022 ADCC World Championships and etch their names into the grappling history books. Below are the ADCC East Coast Trials division winners:
Male 66 kg: Cole Abate
Male 77 kg: Kade Ruotolo
Male 88 kg: Giancarlo Bodoni
Male 99 kg: Mason Fowler
Male +99 kg: John Hansen
Female -60 kg: Brianna Ste-Marie
Female +60 kg: Kendall Reusing
Male 66 kg
Of all the competitors registered for the East Coast Trials, Art of Jiu-Jitsu’s Cole Abate was one who nearly every grappling fan was eager to watch mix it up with the best 66 kg athletes. Since re-locating from Texas to Costa Mesa in 2019 as a green belt, Cole has won every tournament he’s entered under the tutelage of the Mendes brothers. Despite being just 16-years-old, Cole cruised through day one, submitting all three of his opponents. On day two, Cole took out Johnathan Calestine, Estevan Martinez, and Deandre Corbe to get to the final, where he met Keith Krikorian. Keith also had an amazing run, submitting Gianni Grippo in the semis to secure his third finals appearance at an ADCC trials. Keith started the match strong, locking up a tight inside heel hook that Cole worked his way out of. From there Cole took control, passing the guard, getting to his back, and scoring a total of 8 points on his way to victory.
Male 77 kg
18-year-old Kade Ruotolo came into the trials with plenty of momentum, winning the 155 lb. division at the WNO championships in September in a stacked division. On day one Kade utilized his d’arce choke to put away two of three opponents. On day two Kade defeated Kieran Kichuk, Magid Hage, and PJ Barch to meet William Tackett in the final. Tacket submitted his first three opponents and then fought Gesias Cavalcante, Pierre-Olivier Leclerc, and his Brazilian Fight Factory teammate Kody Steele to advance to the final. In the final Tackett looked to utilize half guard sweeps despite the threat of the d’arce choke from Kade. Although he was able to use them to create some interesting scrambles, Kade controlled the pace and won many of the transitions, which were enough to earn him the decision victory.
Male 88 kg
The 88 kg division was one of the few that seemed to lack a clear favorite. Jacob Couch, Giancarlo Bodoni, and Elder Cruz were top seeds but none of them had won the trials before or competed at the ADCC World Championships. Checkmat’s Elder Cruz used his wrestling throughout the tournament to secure five wins on his way to the final, where he met Giancarlo Bodoni of team New Wave Jiu-Jitsu. Giancarlo landed four submissions prior to the final, including a rear naked choke against Jacob Couch of Pedigo Submision Fighting. In the final, Giancarlo applied a perfectly executed strategy for the ADCC ruleset. Despite losing some early wrestling exchanges, Bodoni rebounded to take Cruz’s back, securing a body triangle and the points needed to get him the win and his spot at the ADCC World Championships.
Male 99 kg
Mason Fowler came into the East Coast Trials as a former West Coast Trials winner and ADCC veteran. He submitted his first three opponents and met Devhonte Johnson of Unity Jiu-Jitsu in the final. Devhonte won the 2021 No-Gi Worlds and has had an excellent 2021 season thus far. He also made it to the final after submitting three of his first five opponents, and looked to carry that momentum into an ADCC World Championship birth. In the final, Mason and Devhonte both looked to score takedowns from the feet but neither was able to score a point. Despite a very even match, the decision was awarded to Mason Fowler, who is now a two time ADCC Trials gold medalist.
Male +99 kg
One of the most dominant performances of the tournament came from John Hansen of Axios Jiu-Jitsu. He racked up three submission and two point victories, one by 18-0 and a second by 34-0. In the final he squared off with Damon Ramos of Renzo Gracie Reno. John submitted Ramos with an armbar just 26 seconds into the match.
Female -60 kg
Brianna Ste-Marie of Brazilian Top Team dominated on day one of the trials, submitting all three of her opponents. On day two she first met up with Jasmine Rocha, who she outscored 3-0 in a tight match. On the other side of the mat in the final was Alex Enriquez of Atos Jiu-Jitsu. Alex is a No-Gi World and Pan Champion and has a very solid wrestling background to compliment her submission skills. Prior to meeting up with Brianna in the final Alex outscored Heather Raftery of Atos Jiu-Jitsu and Fatima Kline of Blackhole BJJ, two of the top ranked athletes in the division. In the final Brianna used her closed guard offensively to get to Alex’s back and earn 3 points, the only points scored in the match.
Female +60 kg
Undoubtedly one of the favorites in the +60 kg division was Kendell Reusing of Gracie Barra. Recently Kendell has seemed to find her groove, combining her phenomenal takedown skills with her top pressure and positional skills. She submitted three of four opponents on her way to the final, where she met Amy Campo of Zenith. Amy also scored three submission in route to the final. Despite an early kneebar attempt from Campo, Kendell was able to fight out and start to assert her dominance from the top position, passing Campo’s guard straight into the mount. From there she transitioned to the back and won the match 6-0.
The next ADCC Trials will take place in Brazil in February 2022 followed by the North American West Coast Trials in April 2022.
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