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Dussard, Edwards to lead squad next year
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
NICHOLAS DUSSARD, the Pan-Am International Tae kwon do Federation gold medallist, and United States Open silver medallist Kenneth Edwards topped the standings for selection to the 2008-2009 Jamaica Combined Martial Arts team with Dwayne Vascianne of Future Leaders qualifying as the invitee for the new season.
Barring Vascianne, who replaced Ricardo Lewis, last year's invitee, the squad remains intact for its first showdown of the new season, the December 14 Caribbean Games in Havana, Cuba.
Lewis failed by a point to unseat veteran Dwayne Brown, who finished 10th in the standings, retaining his regular team spot.
Vascianne, considered a bright prospect, was selected as the new invitee based on his performance in the Busta League, particularly in the national invitational where he put up a good showing against Omar Rose.
Alrick Wanliss, who returned from Italy in September as World Cup microweight champion, finished third in the standings.
Former US Open gold medallist Bruce McFarlane ended fourth with his Seido Jamaica teammate, Rose, finishing fifth. Last year's Busta League champion, Shawn Cummings, was sixth ahead of the veteran Arthur Barrows.
Shiahh Shukura, who celebrated his first year on the squad, retained his spot after reaching the final of the super heavyweight division at last year's US Open. He finished eighth, tying with team captain Jason McKay, whose last bout, at the recent New York Invitational, saw him sustain a torn calf muscle.
A lacklustre season by Brown resulted in him finishing 10th, tying with the rookie Lewis on points.
However, Brown was still able to hold his place in the squad as the rule states that invitees must surpass standing members on points to gain regular selection.
The team, which is the two-time defending US Open World Continental champions, will have engagements in Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and the US for the 2009 season, where it is expected to face its sternest test in defending its title in July.
Captain McKay said he was pleased with the 2009 squad, although disappointed that several young prospects did not make the grade.
As veteran team members reach retirement age, a major thrust has been undertaken by the combined team to recruit, train and cultivate fighters on the teenage circuit as likely replacements.
McKay, Barrows, Brown and Shukura are all past 30 and likely to call it quits within the next four seasons.