By Ryan Heilman
At the latest installment of the IBJJF Las Vegas International Open, Team Nova União kept the ball rolling from the good year they have been having; winning the Phoenix and Dallas Opens and coming fresh off of a second-place finish at the Rio Open just two weeks before. Acting quick, not to let the momentum stop, Nova União managed to pull off a close second place finish this year in Las Vegas.
The biggest assets of the team proved to be in the adult blue belt division: 18-year-old Alex Bacon won the featherweight division, while Aaron Wilson took the lightweight class, and representing for the females was Sarah Black, who not only won the middleweight division but also managed to grab top spot at open weight. All of them are strong contenders for the 2013 World Championships. Also, coming straight from his second-place finish at the International Masters and Seniors in Rio, Danny Alvarez traveled from Texas to take gold for the masters in the black belt, featherweight class.
Nova União’s U.S. leader, Gustavo Dantas, could not be happier with his team’s showing. “This is our third year in a row taking second at the Vegas Open. Every year we’re getting closer to first. We had nearly half of the competitors of the first place team, and we only lost by 16 points,” said the proud coach. With 65 competitors (50 of which coming from Dantas’s home state of Arizona, the rest from Texas, New York, Nevada, and Kansas) the team claimed an impressive 47 medals. Nova União plans to keep the strong results going through 2013 and is diligent about their goal of winning the World Championships once again.