At 3 feet 7 inches, Ashley Briggs is the smallest kid in her fifth-grade class. But last weekend, she was head and shoulders above the competition.
Ashley, a 10-year-old blue belt from Severna Park, captured first place in the forms category in her age bracket in the JohnBurdyck National Karate Tournament at Essex Community College.
The Folger McKenzie Elementary student was one of two girls among21 competitors in the 9- to 10-year-old class.
It was Ashley's first tournament since she began studying karate in July 1990.
Both her parents -- Mary Jo Kisor and Dr. Jeffrey Briggs -- were amazed attheir daughter's staying power.
"She was under a lot of pressure," said Kisor, whose child was awarded a trophy that stands 6-foot-3.
"She ended up tied with two other boys, and they had to do their forms routine all over again," said Kisor. "It was a pretty tense situation, but the judges said the difference was that she was very consistent, clean and crisp, while the other boys lost their concentration."
For the diminutive Briggs, a student at Kim's Karate studio in Severna Park, her first national tournament could be the start of something big.