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story.lead_photo.caption Sabrina Dearmond, left, of Oklahoma, competes in jujitsu against A'myrha Syyan of Waynesville, Mo., at the Mid-States Judo and Jujitsu Competition Saturday, April 10, 2021, at The Linc in Jefferson City. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman / News Tribune

Jefferson City became a temporary home for more than 200 competitors from 10 states Saturday afternoon.

The Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, in partnership with the Jefferson City Judo Club and Jujitsu hosted the first Mid States Championship at The Linc.

Aaron Grefrath, assistant director of recreation, said organizers are already looking at a second tournament.

People came from 38 judo and jujitsu schools with some coming as far as Colorado, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

"It seems like everybody I've talked to is just excited to have a competition again," Grefrath said.

Michael Griffin, who came from Jamestown said he was excited to have a local tournament to attend. He's been practicing judo for about five years.

"It was close to home and the price was right," he said. "I want to support the local grappling community, which I hope this is good and we'll see more of them. I would like to see tournaments once a month around this area. It's probably asking for a lot because I know a lot of people came from Tennessee, Oklahoma. I'd like if we had more consistent tournaments around here."

Grefrath said he and Josh Lehman, instructor at Jefferson City Judo Club and Jujitsu, talked about getting a local tournament and were able to get it on the schedule at The Linc in August.

Dr. Charles A Smith, who founded the Jefferson City Judo Club and Jujitsu in 1965, made the trip over from Kansas City to see the tournament.

This is the second tournament held in Jefferson City, he said, but now that the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department can be involved with hosting tournaments at The Linc, it makes things easier.

"I cannot be prouder as a founder," he said. "Its good to see somebody take it to a whole (new level)."

The impact of the tournament goes beyond the mat, Grefrath said. With that many competitors coming from so far away, it's good for the economy, he explained, since some need to stay in hotel rooms and everybody needs to eat.

Already, he said, the organizers are thinking about things that could be changed and improved for the next time around that would make things run smoother or be more efficient.

However, the competitors are focused on what happens on the mat.

"Challenging myself is the biggest part," Griffin said. "Challenge yourself to make weight; challenge yourself to stay competitive; challenge yourself to just keep going, try not to give up. It's a big challenge in the fight because you're in your own mind. The other person's going to do what they do. Maybe it's different for the younger people, but at my age you're just trying to survive this."

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