Over the July 4 weekend -- less than three months after he opened Action Tae Kwon Do in Waldorf --

Kiemo Kersse gathered up six of his top students for a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the 1999 AAU Tae Kwon Do National Tournament. Among the competitors were five black belts, including a family of four -- Larry Beach, sons Chris and Jason and daughter Kim -- and Jeremy Richards, a competitor in the 11-12-year-old division.

But it was the group's lone brown belt, 6-year-old Chris Chanblee, who stole the show.

Chanblee, competing in his first major competition, won the national title in two of the three graded categories, placing first in the points sparring and Olympic-style sparring events. He finished third nationally in forms.

"Chris has always done very well in competition, so I expected the same from him this trip. I just didn't think he would do as well as he did at the national level since this was his first time there," Kersse said. "I mean, there were close to 1,000 competitors there. But he did great. And by this time next year, I hope to have him ready to clean up all three categories."

Larry Beach, competing in the men's black belt division, and Jason Beach, in the 15-16-year-old black belt division, both took third place in points sparring, which Kersse said grades controlled contact to a specific target area on an opponent. For example, any contact to the face, backside or below the belt is prohibited. Just the opposite, Olympic-style sparring is full contact, patterned after the Tae Kwon Do that is performed in Olympic competition.

Kersse said Chanblee, who this year competed in the 5-6-year-old age group, still has to earn a red and then a red-black before becoming a black belt in his nine-belt system. Kersse estimates it will take him a year to a year and a half.

"He has done very well, and in the short time we have been open has progressed tremendously," said Kersse, who said about 12 of his 70 students are black belts. "But how quickly he continues to progress depends on how hard he works."

Baseball

Babe Ruth Tourney Progresses

The Babe Ruth state baseball tournament, which will determine Maryland's representatives at the regional level, is halfway through its completion in Southern Maryland. St. Mary's County hosted the four bambino divisions -- 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds -- at Lexington Park, beginning last week.

Calvert won the 9-year-old title Tuesday night, beating Mount Airy, 14-1. Results of the other games, which were played yesterday, were not available at press time.

St. Mary's next will host the 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds, who begin play tomorrow.

The 13-year-olds will play in Solomons, the 14-year-olds in Prince Frederick and the 15-year-olds at Chancellor's Run Regional Park in St. Mary's County. The state title game for all three age groups will be played on Wednesday.

Teams representing Washington, D.C., and Calvert, Frederick, Montgomery and St. Mary's counties in Maryland will be among the competitors. Winners from the 13-year-old group will advance to the regional tournament Aug. 6 in Prince George's County, while the 14- and 15-year-old champions will head to regional play in Corning, N.Y., and Hamilton, N.J., respectively.

Wrestling

Grapplers Compete in Nationals

Four area wrestlers are in Fargo, N.D., this week for the 1999 AdvoCare Cadet and Asics/Vaughan Junior National Championships, including All-Met and Southern Maryland Extra Wrestler of the Year Scott McAdoo, a recent graduate of Calvert High. Joining McAdoo are All-Met Kevin Gabrielson, a rising junior at DeMatha High; Ryan Forman, a rising sophomore at Northern; and 1999 Patuxent graduate William McKinney.

The top three wrestlers from Maryland in each weight class, as determined by their performance at the high school state meet and other major tournaments, are eligible for the trip. This year marks the second straight appearance at the nationals -- one of the largest wrestling tournaments in the world -- for Forman (154 pounds), McAdoo (165) and McKinney (123), each of whom went, but did not place, in 1998. Gabrielson (143) missed last year's event with a back injury.

CAPTION: Calvert's Nick Sydnor scores in the 9-year-old Babe Ruth title game Tuesday as catcher Garrett Harrison waits for the throw.