Local athlete stakes her claim at USANKF National Competition

TAYLOR COUNTY—Another of Taylor County’s talented youths is making a name for herself in the art of karate.

15-year-old Gabriella “Gabby” Kelly, of Grafton, recently earned a silver medal in Kumite fighting and a bronze medal in Long Weapons at the USA National Karate-do Federation National Competition and United States Team Trials, held in Chicago.

Along with her teammate, Madison Blaney, Gabby competed in the national qualifier in St. Albans, WV. With impressive showings, both girls were able to advance to the national competition.

During the competition, Gabby earned second, fourth and fifth place awards in various divisions.

This trip made Gabby’s fourth time competing in the national competition. In addition to this year’s accolades, she previously brought home a bronze medal in weapons while competing in 2014 and 2015.

In addition to her training, the young athlete spent her summer weekends holding several fundraisers, including tag days, carwashes and various other events.

She would like to extend a thank you to her sponsors that helped make her trip to the USANKF National and US Team Trials possible. Those sponsors include Fairmont All State Agents Larry Morgan and Randy Parks and Faith International Church, along with various local businesses throughout West Virginia and Pennsylvania and, of course, her friends and family.

Gabby has been training in the art of Shotokan Karate since she was just seven years old. Prior to August 2015, she was training in Grafton, but that summer, made a move to train under Shihan Perry Culver in Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

Under Culver, Gabby promoted to a black belt on January 12, 2019.

She has made a name for herself, earning high honors in area tournaments. In the Karate Kings Tournament, held in May, she brought home three first-place awards, and while competing in the Battle on the Hill in March, she earned three more first-place finishes.

That same month, Gabby took on the competition at the Connellsville Classic, earning four first-place awards, as well as a second-place finish.

Her skill and dedication also earned first place finishes at the Warriors United Circuit, SOMA Woman’s Tournament, the 38th Mountain State Tournament and Rumble on the River Warriors United Circuit, where she was also named Grand Champion.

Gabby’s martial arts skills earned her the Female Competitor of the Year for the Culver Karate Club for two years in a row. She claimed the title in 2017 and held tight to it throughout 2018.

With numerous accolades under her belt, showing her hard work and dedication to the sport of Karate, it should come as no surprise that Gabby will continue on her journey to claim an Olympic spot on the United States Karate team one day.


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