SAN ANTONIO, Texas - After two full days of action at the 2007 USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, it was the athletes of Texas who shined on the points spread for the event.
After final tallies were completed, Texans earned the most points of all competitors in the field with 155. Running neck and neck, Californians scored 129 points to Hawaii's 123.
The top team also hailed from Texas, as Becerra Judo Club from Garland, Texas took a commanding lead scoring 101 overall. Hawaii had two teams in the top three, including Hawaii Tenri and Shobukan, respectively.
Home to many outstanding judo clubs, San Antonio offered an ideal location for the 2007 competition.
"We are really pleased with the success of this tournament," said Sherrie Phillips, one of two tournament directors. "The level of competition and incredible performances leave us with great expectations for next year."
The biggest match of the day was the non-Olympic women's International Judo Federation (IJF) 44kg division, touting two of the top three seniors in the nation. Two-time national silver medal winner Veronica Prado (Coal Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) entered as the top-ranked player, but was challenged by 2007 National Champion Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri).
Prado scored two Ippon's and a Yuko in five rounds to squeak by Ibera for the gold. Ibera managed an Ippon in her fourth match, but wasn't able to knock Prado from the top step on the podium.
Following in third was Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I. / Mayo Quanchi Judo), the same athlete who said she had something to prove to herself after her win just one day earlier in the girls Juvenile A 44kg division. For her efforts, she was honored with the Sportsmanship Award for the day.
Teed up to be one of the most amazing stories from the event was the Boys' IJF-Junior 66kg division, a weight class with a long roster of top players. Coming out on top was Jeremy Liggett (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), taking the gold in the category and earning himself the Outstanding Judoka Award for the day.
Liggett, who snatched the silver at the Senior Pan Ams in the 60kg division last May, worked his way into 66kg weight class and confirmed that he deserves the top spot in the division.