Itching for a grapple 

One of the men charged in the beating of Sam Riddle last August traveled to Las Vegas with the Dog Pound Submission Fighting Academy team to compete in a grappling tournament Nov. 10-13, despite past assurances from his coach that the fighter wouldn’t be booked until the case was resolved.

“I didn’t change my mind,” head coach Matt Powers told the Independent. “It wasn’t a fight, first of all, it was a grappling tournament.”

The North American Grappling Association refers to participants as “fighters” on its website and details the “submission techniques” allowed.

Last month, Powers said Woodard was still training with the team but would not be fighting. “Until all this is said and done, I won’t book him fights,” Powers told the Independent, noting that Woodard receives about two offers a month for matches.

Now Powers says that the more he’s learned about the altercation, the clearer it has become to him that Lloyd Woodard, 20, wasn’t directly involved.

“Lloyd was never even in the same room while it was going on,” Powers said. “The only thing I think he’s guilty of is making bad choices about who he’s hanging out with.”

Woodard, who was released on his own recognizance following his August arrest, obtained court permission to leave Missoula in the custody of his head coach, Powers.

Deputy prosecuting attorney Andrew Paul says he didn’t object to Woodard’s request to leave town because he is hoping for a plea agreement.

“We’re working in a spirit of cooperation at this point, and since he is not the main bad player, I’m hoping we’ll come to some resolution with him,” Paul says. Paul also says Woodard stayed close to the entryway of the apartment where Riddle was beaten, but was not in a separate room. Woodward is charged with felony accountability to aggravated assault and burglary.

Woodard took home a gold medal from the Las Vegas event, winning first place in the intermediate men 160- to 169-pound category at the 8th annual Grapplers Quest West Championship, the world’s largest grappling event, according to its website.

Powers took second place in the executive category (ages 30 to 40). Powers said the Dog Pound took five men to the 1,800-contestant tournament, more than half of whom medaled.

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