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Morning Notes

Arlington Youth Soccer Team Wins Nat’l Tourney — The Arlington Soccer Association’s U16 Boys team won the US Youth Soccer National Championship in Frisco, Texas over the weekend. The big win “is the first USYS Championship in the club’s history” and “caps off Arlington’s most successful year in its almost 50-year history with the U14 Girls team also advancing to the National Championships,” according to the association. [PDF, US Youth Soccer]

Officials Prep for Decal Decision — “If County Board members in September decide to kill off Arlington tax decals that have been a fixture on local windshields for a half-century, the two elected officials who will be tasked with implementing the decision say they can make it happen. The question that still hangs in the air, though, is whether eliminating the decal will make it more likely scofflaws will get away with cheating the tax man.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Theaters: A Tourist Attraction? — Arlington’s theater scene “is bigger and better than ever,” according to Arlington’s tourism promotion agency. [Stay Arlington]

Survey: Keep ANC Open to Burials As Long As Possible — “The vast majority of respondents to a Department of Defense survey favor keeping Arlington National Cemetery operational for as long as possible, even if it means tightening up on those who are deemed eligible for burial there.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington Babe Ruth Baseball Team Clinches State Title

Arlington Babe Ruth Baseball’s eight-and-under travel team journeyed to Haymarket to compete for a state title last week, and they came home victorious.

The 8U team, Storm, clinched the championship in their age group with an undefeated run through the tournament, including a 13-12 victory over a Fluvanna County team in the final game.

The team will represent the state of Virginia in the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Tournament, set to kick off in Ocala, Florida this coming Wednesday (July 18).

Three other Arlington Babe Ruth travel teams also participated in state tournaments last week in the 9U, 10U and 11U age groups.

Photo courtesy George Thompson

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Who’ll Run The World (Finals)? Glebe’s Girls

Maybe girls really do run the world — or at least, perhaps, world finals.

An all-girls group of problems solvers from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind world finals next month after becoming state champions on April 14 in Newport News, Va.

The competition pushes students to work creatively as a team to “create original solutions to… divergent problems,” according to the competition’s website. This year’s theme is “emoji, speak for yourself.”

Seven girls — Buse Arici, Maddie Brown, Audrey Ferguson, Nora Johnson, Zella Mantler, Katie Martin, and Kaitlyn Nowinski — comprise the state championship-winning team.

Getting seven children to work together as a team takes a lot of effort, and the school estimates that the girls have dedicated more than 100 hours toward their competition submission.

The pursuit of problem solving — in their case, finding a way to communicate the story of a forgotten emoji without speaking, by just using emojis — led the seven girls to build “a texting machine that prints a message” and two emoji machines. In the process, they learned to use 3D printers, Adobe Illustrator and power tools to design their prototypes and their own costumes.

The silence stipulation alone will be quite the challenge for the group, a lively and talkative bunch whose excitement bubbled over into constant eruptions of euphoria while meeting with ARLnow at their elementary school on Wednesday (April 25).

The program was first brought to the school in 2015, and the team is the first from Glebe to win at Odyssey’s regional and state competition, according to Arlington Public Schools.

The world finals, hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will pit the nine- and 10-year-old girls against about 850 teams from 25 countries. According to the competition’s website, tens of thousands of students are anticipated to descend on little Ames, population just over 66,000, from May 23-26.

Getting the team to the competition will also prove challenging, and the girls have set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for their transportation and other expenses. The overall goal is $17,000, the girls said, but the fundraising webpage’s goal is much lower, at $6,000.

The team will be hosting other fundraising efforts, like a bake sale, to raise the remaining funds.

Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Schools

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Arlington Medieval Steel Fighters To Compete in Arizona

Arlington residents Zoheir El-Eita and Sam Jenson flew to Arizona early this morning, after carefully packing 60-75 pounds of steel armor and stowing away their weapons into their checked luggage.

The two medieval steel fighters are set to compete this weekend at the Armored Combat League’s National Championship in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and a little finesse is necessary to get their gear across the country. Jensen, 27, studied up on exactly what he could and could not bring on board the flight, and weighed everything ahead of time.

The pair won’t be the only ones with a packing problem; the competition, from March 9-11, brings 49 fighters from across the country to “execute real medieval combat techniques to earn a spot in an international arena” while wearing medieval armor and using medieval weapons, according to a championship press release. They’ll be fighting with the Atlantic First Swords, a mid-Atlantic regional team.

Tournament play consists of one-on-one fights, three-on-three fights, five-on-five fights, and an “ultimate rush” fight of 16-on-16.

“Oh gosh, how do I describe it?” Jensen laughed before diving into an explanation of tournament technicalities. The overall goal is to fight the other team into submission, according to Jensen, by either “hitting someone so hard that they don’t feel like standing up any more or forcibly throwing them to the ground.”

Points are scored when players win a round, and a team needs 11 points to win. Rounds can last anywhere from 20 seconds to eight minutes, and the most rounds that Jensen has ever undertaken at once was either 23 or 24, but that isn’t normal.

“A man with 260 pounds of mass at a fairly quick rate will knock most people down,” said Jensen, so these melee rounds tend to last a minute.

The teams follow almost the same rules from French tournaments in the 1300s, with modern modifications for safety.

“I’d say we’re playing it a bit safer than the 14th century French were,” he added.

Successful steel fighters are chosen to represent the United States at an international championship in May in Scone, Scotland, about 45 miles north of Edinburgh.

While some of the local steel fighters may have discovered the sport through attending Renaissance fairs, Jensen was introduced by a friend living across the country who invited him to a tournament outside of Philadelphia.

Jensen was quickly hooked, and a month later he was getting his “butt kicked, but was absolutely hooked” and quit his pack a day smoking habit to get in better shape. He had been working odd jobs, at one point as a bouncer at D.C.’s Madhatter tavern, but nothing had been clicking.

“I was at a point in my life where, it’s cliche, but I was feeling listless,” he said. “I didn’t have a hobby or a passion, but I thought that this could be it.”

“If anything, I wish I’d found it sooner.”

Though he’s currently studying accounting and finance at Northern Virginia Community College, he meets every Tuesday and Thursday to train at Ashburn’s Silver Eagle Group Shooting Range with his usual, seven member team, the DC Juggernauts.

Jensen doesn’t think he’ll make it to the international tournament in Scotland, but that isn’t what’s important to him. The friendships made and the feelings of camaraderie and competition are enough for him — and he isn’t even sure if there is a physical prize to be won, anyway.

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Morning Notes

DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]

Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]

More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]

Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]

Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]

Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]

Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

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UPDATE: Wakefield Falls Just Short in Basketball State Championship

Update at 5:55 p.m. — Despite leading for much of the game, Wakefield ended up falling just short to Varina, 64-60.

Earlier: The Wakefield High School boys basketball team is currently fighting for a state championship.

If the Warriors prevail over the Varina Blue Devils, it would be the team’s first championship in 57 years, according to the Sun Gazette.

The game, which started at 4 p.m., is being played at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. At halftime, Wakefield was winning 31-23.

En route the Richmond, the team’s buses received a police escort. For fans who could not make the trip to Richmond, the game is being streamed live online (for a fee) and is being shown at the Crystal City Sports Pub (523 23rd Street S.)

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