Senior Adeline Quackenbush and alum Dan Ries represented BYU at the prestigious fifth Proving Grounds Invitational submission wrestling event on Jan. 19.
Quackenbush, who entered the women’s lightweight division bracket, made it to the semifinals of the tournament, placing third of 16. Quackenbush submitted her first opponent with an Ezekiel choke from the bottom position and her second opponent with a belly-down armbar. Quackenbush eventually lost in overtime in the semifinals to Nadine Toelle, who won the tournament. Quackenbush was the only opponent Toelle did not defeat by submission.
Going into the tournament, Quackenbush had already built considerable momentum, riding a series of wins that culminated in winning the Impact Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu State Championship for her division in February 2018.
“I’m excited to see who’s there and who I’m going against,” she said before the tournament. “It’d be really fun to win.”
Quackenbush’s positive attitude belied the challenges she faced before the tournament as she initially struggled to find adequate time to prepare.
Originally an alternate for her bracket, Quackenbush put extra effort into making time to train for the event. Her short-notice addition meant her training had to fit around an already full schedule. Alongside full-time studies at BYU, Quackenbush also works and competes in ballroom dancing.
Quackenbush said being a short notice replacement took a lot of pressure off her shoulders. For her, PGI 5 was just another opportunity to do an activity she enjoys.
Ries, who entered the tournament in the men’s middleweight division, rode a wave of his own. Having recently won double gold for his divisions at Grappling Industries Denver Open, competing at PGI 5 held a somewhat different meaning for Ries.
Ries was invited to PGI 2 in 2016 where he said an unexpected change in first round opponents adversely affected his mental approach and saw him lose in the first round.
Three years later, Ries returned to PGI 5 with more experience, more physical conditioning and this time, mental conditioning.
“Between PGI 2 and now, I’ve learned to approach competition a little differently,” he said. “I did a few sessions with a friend of mine who is a sports psychologist.”
Ries said his time with the sports psychologist helped him allay past issues of anxiety and stress during the lead-up to competitions. He credited his past wins at the Denver Open to the progress made there.
“Usually I struggle to get into a competitive mindset, but I was able to walk through my divisions to secure two gold medals,” he said. “I think it’s because mentally I took a very different approach.”
In his first round, Ries faced former PGI champion Lucus Montoya. Ries lost in a hard-fought match that saw Ries dominate positioning early on, even taking the back of the former champion. Despite his efforts, a chaotic scramble saw Ries caught in an arm-bar from the triangle position.
Longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach of both Quackenbush and Ries, Paul Tom has watched both competitors grow in the sport. Beaming with pride, he praised both of his students.
Tom credited much of Quackenbush’s success to her positivity and relaxed mindset.
“I just think Adie has that positive personality, and that’s really the number one thing,” he said. “She just goes in saying ‘I’ll do my best and I’ll see what happens.’”
On Ries, Tom praised the competitor’s passion for learning.
“The thing about Dan is that he’s very intellectual. He’s very smart,” he said. “He’s not a natural athlete but he’s a relentless learner.”