On April 29th, USA Judo National Team FORCE / Jimmy Pedro's Judo Center athletes competed at the US Senior National Championships and the Pan American Championships. Two events. Two countries.
The Senior Nationals were held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Leading the team was Olympic Silver Medalist Travis Stevens who has recently signed on as "coach" since winning his Olympic medal last year. "Everyone medaled in their respective division and some took on the challenge of fighting up and competing at a higher level than they normally do. Everyone did extremely well. I am very proud of the hard work the team has put in. It really showed this past weekend" said Stevens.
Head Coach Jimmy Pedro stated, "For the second straight year in a row, every member of Team FORCE/Pedro's Judo Center who competed won a medal at the US national championships. This is a tribute to the knowledgeable coaching staff as well as the commitment and dedication of the athletes. It is nice to see our next generation of Team FORCE judoka step up and start to fill the shoes of Harrison and stevens. Maria Dhami (52kg) and Kathy Lieby (57kg) both took home gold medals and their first US National titles this weekend while Yonemori (73kg), Skylar (90kg) and Jacobs (+100kg) brought home bronzes."
Down in Panama, two Team FORCE / Pedro's Judo athletes, Kelita Zupancic and Jack Hatton, stepped onto the mats for the Pan-American Championships. This event is one of the most important events leading up to the World Championships later this year. "Kelita Zupancic continued with her third straight big time final onthe world judo tour by taking a silver medal at the pan amchampionships in one of the most difficult divisions in Pan Ams" said Pedro.
"Kelita's only loss came to multiple time world champion and Olympic medalist Alvear from Colombia. Given more time to adjust to our system of training, I believe Kelita will become a multiple time world and Olympic medalist" concluded Pedro.
Jack Hatton fought his first Pan Ams and just fell short of a medal at 81kg. Pushing the pace in a golden score bout in the quarters up by 2 penalties Hatton got caught for wazari. He then lost his bronze medal match to Canada also by wazari. Jack is still very young and inexperienced on the world stage but is getting better every day and more experience at the right level will bring future results" concluded Pedro.
Final Results fron US Senior Nationals:
GOLD - Katherinne Lieby (57kg)
GOLD - Maria Dhami (52kg)
GOLD - Devin Leggett (73kg Brown Belt)
GOLD - Quentin Lahey (100kg Novice)
SILVER - Kaelin O'Sullivan (+78kg)
SILVER - Lou Galex (Veterans)
BRONZE - Andrew Jacobs (+100kg)
BRONZE - Tyler Yonemori (73kg)
BRONZE - Eric Skylar (90kg)
BRONZE - Lou Galex (100kg Brown Belt)
Final Results from Pan American Championships:
SILVER - Kelita Zupancic (70kg)
FIFTH - Jack Hatton (81kg)