U.S. Open Championships Come to Fort Lauderdale

Sept. 28, 2005, 12 a.m. (ET)

An international field of more than 250 of the world's best judo players from 20+ countries will arrive in Fort Lauderdale this weekend to compete in the U.S. Open Judo Championships - the top senior elite event in North America. The competition will run Oct. 1 - 2 at the Broward Country Convention Center.

Preliminary competition begins at 10 a.m. and will run through late afternoon each day. Finals will begin at 6 p.m. each day. The event also will be webcast live for the first time ever at www.livesportsvideo.com.

The following divisions will be contested Oct. 1: Men's 81kg, 90kg, 100kg, +100kg and Women's 63kg, 70kg, 78kg and +78kg. The lighter divisions will compete Oct. 2: Men's 55kg, 60kg, 66kg, 73kg and Women's 44kg, 48kg, 52kg and 57kg.

The American contingent features at least 70 players, including seven members of the team that competed at the 2005 World Judo Championships, Sept. 8-11, in Cairo Egypt.

U.S. athletes to watch include Andrew Taylor (Plano, Tex./Becerra Judo Club/55kg), Ronda Rousey (Scotia, N.Y./Venice Judo Club/63kg) and Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo./Olympic Training Center Judo Team) - all of whom won gold at the Rendez-Vous Canada Tournament in Montreal, Sept. 24 - 25.

Reser is the defending U.S. Open champion in this division while 2004 World Junior Champion Rousey is looking for her first title here. Although the Rendez-Vous was Taylor 's first international win, the eighteen-year-old won silver at this event last year, but may face a significant challenge from Hiram Cruz (Jacksonville, Fla./55kg) who returned to competition this year after two years off. In a division known for young athletes, he brings a wealth of experience - as well as a 2001 National Championship title - to this year's competition.

In addition to Reser and Rousey, at least five other World Team members are scheduled to compete, including Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif./East Bay Judo Institute), Carrie Chandler (Scotia, N.Y/Jason Morris Judo Club/52kg), Valerie Gotay (Temecula, Calif./Judo America/57kg), Katie Mocco (Scotia, N.Y./Jason Morris Judo Club/70kg) and Aaron Cohen (Scotia, N.Y./NYAC/81kg).

At least 19 athletes from Florida are expected to take the tatami this weekend, including 10 from Jhonny Prado's (North Lauderdale, Fla. ) Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club. The Ki-Itsu-Sai contingent is known for its grasp on the top rankings on most of the junior rosters, but this crew of predominantly high schoolers also has been steadily moving up the senior rankings.

In particular, 17-year-old standout Bobby Lee (North Lauderdale, Fla./73kg) has been undefeated in both junior and senior events since April, but will face still competition from the Reser and Richard Cohen (Buffalo Grove , Ill.) Meanwhile Jeanette Rodriguez (North Lauderdale, Fla./48kg) has moved up from the 44kg division where she won the U.S. Open last year as a 14-year-old. Franchesca Durand (North Lauderdale, Fla./52kg) will be another Ki-Itsu-Sai athlete to watch as the third-ranked athlete will challenge Chandler as well as second-ranked Natalie LaFon (National City , Calif. /Judo America)

U.S. Athlete Participants, by State

Arizona
Kenneth Fontes (Phoenix, Ariz./VanHelder Judo/+100kg)

California
Jennifer Tutass (El Cerrito, Calif./Cuningham's Judo Club/63kg)
Frank Sanchez (West Covina , Calif./Guerreros Judo/55kg)
Valerie Gotay (Temecula, Calif./Judo America/57kg)
Natalie Lafon (National City, Calif./Judo America/52kg)
Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif./NYAC/EBJI/48kg)
Ann Shiraishi (Elk Grove, Calif./Okuba/APOA/48kg)
Matthew Dias (Fremont, Calif./San Jose Buddh/60kg)
Sean Lang (San Jose, Calif./San Jose State/66kg)
Jonathan Leonhardt (San Jose, Calif./San Jose State/+100kg)
Davor Vasiljevic (San Jose, Calif./San Jose State/81kg)
Tomoyo Yoshinaga (San Jose, Calif./San Jose State/70kg)

Colorado
Lucas Mignogna (Golden, Colo./Northglenn Judo Club/81kg)
Micah Bellamy (Colorado Springs, Colo./OTC Judo Team/100kg)
Mary Colleen Matthews (Northglenn, Colo./OTC Judo Team/57kg)
Joshua O'Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo./OTC Judo Team/66kg)
Anna Palmer (Colorado Spring , Colo./OTC Judo Team/57kg)
Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo./OTC Judo Team/73kg)

Florida
Hana Carmichael (Wellington, Fla./Budokan Judo/57kg)
Shawn Blakey (Miami, Fla./FIU Judo Club/81kg)
Robert Santiago (Orange Park, Fla./Judo Ryu Jacksonville/100kg)
Gabrielle Baez (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/57kg)
Jean Pierre Choy (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/60kg)
Angelica Delgado (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/57kg)
Franchesca Durand (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/52kg)
Jean Pierre Durand (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/60kg)
Bobby Lee (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/73kg) 
Andrew Porras (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/55kg)
Daimisy Porras (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/44kg)
Veronica Prado (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/44kg)
Jeanette Rodriguez (North Lauderdale, Fla./Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club/48kg)
Yanik Labrada (Miami, Fla./Pinecrest Judo/57kg)
Alex Maratos (Palmetto Bay, Fla./Pinecrest Judo/90kg)
Javier Cuevas (Miami, Fla./Sei-Do-Kai/73kg)
Daniel Jaspe (Hialeah, Fla./Sei-Do-Kai/73kg)
Robert Cockey (Largo, Fla./St Pete Judo Club/55kg)
Hiram Cruz (Jacksonville, Fla./ 55kg)

Idaho
Michael Eldred (Fruitland, Ida./Western Idaho/73kg)

Illinois
Richard Cohen (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Cohen's Judo Club/73kg)
Nicole Schultheis (Gurnee, Ill./Gurnee Judo Club/52kg)
Ashlie Martini (Chicago, Ill./Tohkon Judo/63kg)
Rachel Arndt (Chicago, Ill./Tohkon Judo/52kg)

Michigan
Christopher Snyder (Scotts, Mich./South Side Dojo/90kg)

Minnesota
Travis Yamanaka (Apple Valley, Minn./Tohkon/73kg)

New Jersey
Angela Creutzberger (New Providence, NJ/Cranford Judo/48kg)
Jaclyn Feuerschwenger (Linden, NJ/Judo Karate/70kg)

New York
David Chapman (Scotia, NY/Jason Morris Judo Club/90kg)
Carrie Chandler (Scotia, NY/Jason Morris Club/52kg) 
Jessica Elizalde (Scotia, NY/Jason Morris Club/52kg)
Jeremy Liggett (Scotia, NY/Jason Morris Judo Club/60kg)
Katie Mocco (Scotia, NY/Jason Morris Club/70kg)
Aaron Silverman (Scotia, NY/Jason Morris Judo Club/66kg)
Yu Ko Sin (Glenville, NY/Jason Morris Judo Club/81kg)
Shintaro Higashi (Scarsdale, NY/Kokushi Budokan/90kg)
Aaron Cohen (Scotia, NY/NYAC/81kg)
Gerard Cadet (Brooklyn, NY/Starrett Judo Club/60kg)
Garry St. Leger (Brooklyn, NY/Starrett Judo Club/90kg)
Harry St. Leger (Brooklyn, NY/Starrett Judo Club/81kg)
Ronda Rousey (Scotia, NY/Venice Judo/63kg)

Massachusetts
Eva Smith (Fall River, Mass./Taki-Gawa/+78kg)

Ohio
Kayla Harrison (Middletown, Ohio/Renshuden Judo/63kg)
Rhonda Morrell-Pruitt (Centerville, Ohio/Shudokan/78kg)

Texas
Andrew Taylor (Plano, Tex./Becerra Judo Club/55kg)
Daniel McCormick (Arlington, Tex./ Bedford Kodokan/+100kg)
Akin Kurtulan (Plano, Tex./Okuri Judo Club/81kg)
Halee Shadden (Mineral Wells, Tex./Ruben Martin Judo Club/70kg)

Washington
Travis Stevens (Tacoma, Wash./Ippon Judo Dojo/81kg)

Wisconsin
Charmaine Alsager (Black Earth, Wis./Badger Judo Club/+78kg)
Kathleen Sell (Oshkosh, Wis./Welcome Mat Judo Club/70kg)

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