JUDO: USA Judo Senior National Championships Day 1 Preview

April 11, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Immediate Release April 10, 2008 Contact: Nicole Jomantas, 719.271.9937 (cell) Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us (Virginia Beach, Va.)-The USA Judo Senior National Championships begin on Friday with the men's and women's middle and heavyweight divisions. Among the athletes set to compete are 2007 World silver medalist Ronda Rousey (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 70kg) and 1997 World medalist Brian Olson (Boulder, Colo. / NYAC / USA National Training Site at the Olympic Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / 90kg). Competition begins with preliminary rounds at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. With C-Level elite points on the line for medalists in each division, the results of the Senior Nationals will help determine which players advance to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Judo, June 13-14 in Las Vegas, Nev. A complete preview of the divisions being contested is as follows: Women's 63kg With the Trials two months away, the top two players in the division have made weight shifts. Reigning Senior National Champion Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University), a two-time Senior Nationals silver medalist in the 57kg division who moved up to 63kg in 2007, dropped back down to 57kg for this weekend while #2-ranked Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) moved up to 78kg earlier this year. Last year's bronze medalist Janine Nakao (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) will be the top seed in the division. Nakao also is a top-five player in the 57kg division and will likely be challenged by a list of former Senior National medalists, including Anastasia Krivosa (Smithtown, N.Y. / Smithtown YMCA), Ashlie Martini (Chicago, Ill. / Tohkon / Victorious Judo), Hannah Martin (Burnt Hills, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), D'Anya Bierria and Christal Ransom (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center). Women's 70kg Reigning World silver medalist Ronda Rousey (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) is the top-ranked player in the division and has never lost to an American in major competition. Last year's silver medalist Katie Sell (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) is the #2 seed while four-time Senior Nationals silver medalist Jaclyn Feuerschwenger (Linden, N.J. / Cranford Judo) is returning to the 70kg division after placing fifth as a 78kg player in 2007. Women's 78kg The top two seeds, Katie Mocco (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) and Nina Cutro-Kelly (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo), have flip-flopped wins over the past year. Cutro-Kelly beat Mocco at the 2007 Senior Nationals in Mocco's first major event since moving from 70kg to 78kg. The two fought last Sunday at the Liberty Bell Classic in Philadelphia where Mocco armbarred Cutro-Kelly. Both players, however, have been beaten this year by Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE), the 2007 U.S. Open Champion in the 63kg division who moved up two weight divisions in January. Women's +78kg Top seed Heidi Moore (Englewood, Colo. / Denver Judo) won the 2007 U.S. Open title in the heavyweight division, but watch for three-time Senior National Champion Nanoushka St. Pre (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Legrossports) who came out of retirement and competed for the first time in nearly four years in February. Men's 81kg The long-awaited rematch between five-time Pan Am medalist Aaron Cohen (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / NYAC / Cohen's Judo) and Travis Stevens (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) will have to wait until the Trials as Stevens is not competing this weekend. Cohen, the 2006 National Champion, will move up to the #1 ranking in the division. Last year's bronze medalists Harry St. Leger (Brooklyn, N.Y. / NYAC / Legrossports) and Andrew Hung (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) will be the second and third seeds, respectively. Men's 90kg Top-ranked Rick Hawn (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE) moved up from 81kg in 2007 to 90kg where he beat then-#1 Garry St. Leger (Brooklyn, N.Y. / NYAC / Legrossports) three times during the Senior Nationals and World Team Trials to win a berth on the Pan Am Games where he would go on to win a bronze medal. St. Leger held the #1 ranking until Hawn defeated him again on Sunday at the Liberty Bell. In a possible semifinal, though, Hawn could face 1997 World medalist Brian Olson (Boulder, Colo. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) who came out of his three-year retirement last fall. Men's 100kg Reigning National Champion Shintaro Higashi (Scarsdale, N.Y. / NYAC / Kokushi Budo Institute) is the top seed in a division that could be won by any number of players. Among the top contenders are two-time Olympian Rene Capo (Naperville, Ill. / Cohen's Judo), two-time Pan Am medalist Michael Barnes (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University), 2004 Olympic alternate Mark Fletcher (Atlanta, Ga. / Ultimate Challenge Judo) and two-time World Team member Djamaldin Aliev (Greenwood Village, Colo. / Denver Judo / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center). Men's +100kg Top-ranked Anthony Turner (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) is favored to win his first National title in the heavyweight division and hold on to his #1 ranking leading into the Trials. Jonathan Leonhardt (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University), a 2006 Pan Am Team member in the open division, will be the second seed and 54-year-old James"Brewster"Thompson (Las Vegas, Nev. / San Jose State University) is the third seed. For more information, contact Nicole Jomantas, USA Judo Director of Communications and Media Relations, at 719.271.9937 (cell) or Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us. -END-
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