BUTTE - The students and teachers at Rocky Mountain Martial Arts are kicking and chopping toward victory.
"Almost eight years that I have been the owner here, we’ve never earned a team trophy at a tournament at all so this was a really big accomplishment for our athletes to earn the third-place team trophy," said Sara Lightner.
128 athletes from Montana, Northern Idaho, and Washington competed in the Montana Taekwondo State Championship that was hosted in Butte. Maggie Varela, a student at the school, won two gold medals at the tournament in sparring and poomse ( a taekwondo technique).
"Oh man, it is tough work. It may look okay, but when you do it, it is hard," said Varela.
Sara Lightner, the owner, and master of Rocky Mountain Martial arts, says that hosting the tournament felt good after dealing with setbacks that involved the summer program vans being damaged.
"It was just sudden, and I don’t have another backup to get kids picked up from school so it kind of left me in a panic for a few days," said Lightner.
Both vans had holes drilled in the fuel tanks and repairs would cost more than $2,000. Lightner says thanks to community support, repair costs were raised within a couple of days.
"I’m just super excited. Our school is growing, and the athletes are getting more excited about competing," said Lightner.
After the success of the tournament, Lightner wants to hold an annual tournament in honor of her teacher, Master Miller.
"My senior instructor and mentor who I bought this school from just recently passed away and so it felt like a really good way to remember him," said Lightner.