Team USA Arrives in Costa Rica
The team of 31 athletes arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica for the Pan American Infantil Championsips Nov. 9 and will begin competition Nov. 11.
Last year's contingent returned home with seven gold medals and this team looks to have success as well as several athletes are returning for another shot at the podium.
Franchesca Durand (Coral Springs, Fla./53kg) and Marina Lambert (Chesapeake, Va./+64kg) are both returning gold medalists who have continued to be successful in the past year.
Fourteen-year-old Durand not only dominates the junior divisions, but is the second-ranked senior athlete at 52kg having won bronze at the National Championships and placed fifth at the U.S. Open. Internationally, she also won last year's Tokyo Youth International.
Lambert also has won both this year's Triple Crown (three junior national championships) and the U.S. Junior Open. When not training for judo competitions, she is an outstanding wrestler, winning a national title at this year's USA Wrestling Girls National Championships.
Kyle Taketa (Torrance, Calif./40kg) and Robby Schultheis (Gurnee, Ill./44kg) are both out to improve on their results from last year, having won silver medals in their respective divisions.
Antonio Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines, Fla./64kg) and Kayla Hall (Granite City, Ill./38kg) also are both returning athletes from last year's team having both finished fifth.
Rodriguez was a member of the first ever U.S. entry to the Kindai Cup Team Championships in Japan earlier this year. Rodriguez is coming off of an undefeated run that carried him through the Copa Gigante in Puerto Rico in March, followed by winning the Triple Crown, U.S. Junior Open and Quebec Open.
Hall won titles at both the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships and the U.S. Judo Association Junior National Championships as well as winning a silver medal at the U.S. Junior Open.
Although these athletes are all young, this is hardly the first international event for much of the team as Durand, Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I./31kg) and Miguel Ballesteros (Miami, Fla.) all won titles at the 2004 Tokyo Youth International as part of a delegation that also included Max Schneider (Chicago, Ill./42kg) and Everet Desilets (Hope, R.I./34kg).
One of the team's youngest athletes, Bouyssou remains one to watch as she continues to be virtually unbeatable. The 11-year-old has won the past three Triple Crowns in her division as well as taking gold at this year's Citta di Forli International Championship in Italy.
The complete athlete roster for the event is as follows:
36kg: Nathan Silva (Baldwin Park, Calif./Guerreros)
40kg: Kyle Taketa (Torrance, Calif./Gardena)
44kg: Robby Schultheis (Gurnee, Ill./Gurnee)
48kg: Aaron Fukuhara (Torrance, Calif./Gardena)
53kg: Sami Syed (Los Angeles, Calif./Venice Judo)
58kg: Miguel Ballesteros (Miami, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai)
64kg: Antonio Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai)
+64kg:Daniel Palatnik (Rego Park, N.Y./Spartak)
36kg: No Entry
40kg: Ashley Cameron (Garland, Texas/Becerra)
44kg: Mirielle Graves (Edwardsville, Ill./USA Stars)
48kg: Risha Mishima (Honolulu, Hawaii/Shobukan)
53kg: Franchesca Durand (Coral Springs, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai)
58kg: Danielle Greenstein (Coral Springs, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai)
64kg Kelsi Bostic (Anderson, Ind./Anderson YMCA)
+64kg Marina Lambert (Chesapeake, Va./Washington Judo)
28kg: Eric Benevides (Fall River, Mass./Mayo Quanchi)
31kg David Terao (Honolulu, Hawaii/Shobukan)
34kg: Everet Desilets (Hope, R.I./Mayo Quanchi)
38kg: Ren Hirokawa (Wahiawa, Hawaii/Shobukan)
42kg: Max Schneider (Chicago, Ill./Tohkon)
48kg: Ruben Martin (Burleson, Texas/Ruben Martin Judo Club)
53kg: Max Golembo (Vernon Hills, Ill./Cohen's Judo Club)
+53kg: Christian Gil (Miami, Fla./Falcon Judo Club)
28kg: Micayla Maes (Wheatridge, Colo./Northglenn)
31kg: Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I./Mayo Quanchi)
34kg: Darya Cogswell (Westminister, Colo./Hyland Hills)
38kg: Kayla Hall (Granite City, Ill./USA Stars)
42kg: Carina Caminero (Tampa, Fla./El Mambi)
48kg: Kia Artis (Marion, Indiana/ Marion Youth)
53kg: Carly Patton (Zephyrhills, Fla./ El Mambi)
+53kg Persila Bencomo (Miami, Fla./ Pine Crest)