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JUDO: USA Judo Senior National Championships Day 2 Preview

April 12, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Immediate Release April 11, 2008 Contact: Nicole Jomantas, 719.271.9937 (cell) Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us (Virginia Beach, Va.)-The USA Judo Senior National Championships conclude on Saturday with the men's and women's light and Open weight divisions. Among the athletes set to compete are 2007 Pan American Champion Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen / 57kg), seven-time National Champion Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute/ 48kg) and 2004 Olympian Taraje Williams-Murray (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 60kg). Competition begins with preliminary rounds at 9 a.m. and finals at 5 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 44kg After third and fourth seeds Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I. / Mayo Quanchi Judo) and Alexa Liddie (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) moved up to 48kg earlier in the week, 2007 National Champion Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) and 2006 Pan Am Team member Veronica Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) will fight in a best-of-three round robin. Women's 48kg Top seed Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) will be going for her eighth National Championship title with her closest challenger being 2007 Rendez-Vous Canada silver medalist Natalie Lafon (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center). Matsumoto has beaten Lafon in both of their matches since Lafon moved down from 52kg last summer, but the first one was close with Lafon losing on points in five minutes. Women's 52kg Ann Shiraishi (Elk Grove, Calif. / East Bay Judo Institute), the #2-ranked player in the 48kg division moved up for the weekend and should come in as a spoiler among larger players. Top seed Tracy Nagai (Bellevue, Wash. / Budokan Judo) and #2 Nicki Schultheis (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), both bronze medalists at the 2007 U.S. Open, also have the potential to win their first Senior National titles. Women's 57kg While three-time reigning National Champion Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen) is the division favorite, look for a potential rematch of the 2005 and 2006 finals with Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University). Malloy moved up to 63kg in 2007 where she placed ninth at the World Championships, but has returned to her former division for the first time in nearly a year. First, however, Malloy would have to beat Anna Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) and Carrie Chandler (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center). Palmer is the top-ranked player in the 52kg division and Chandler is a five-time National Champion who has won titles in both the 52kg and 57kg divisions. Women's Open The women's open division will be determined during the competition. Men's 55kg Top seed Keith Beauvais (Thornton, Colo. / Northglenn) won bronze at the 2007 U.S. Open and is looking to qualify for his first Senior Pan Am Team at the age of 15, but will have at least a contingent of young players and former National Champions to deal with first. Men's 60kg Taraje Williams-Murray (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) has four national titles to his credit and will be looking to add a fifth to secure his berth on the 2008 Pan American Championships Team as well as the ability to help qualify the United States to send a 60kg player to the 2008 Olympic Games. Men's 66kg The top seed in the division, 21-year-old Kenny Hashimoto (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) is one of the best technicians in the division with six national medals to his credit, but has never won a National Championship. Like Hashimoto, Jeremy Liggett (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) is a former 60kg player who also has beautiful judo and matches between Liggett and Hashimoto have always been close encounters. Also watch for former Nationals medalists Nate Torra (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) and Josh O'Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center), both of whom have the potential to upset any number of players. Men's 73kg Michael Eldred (Fruitland, Idaho / Western Idaho Judo Institute) won five international medals in 2007 as well as a bronze medal at the Senior Nationals and will be in the hunt for his first National title, but look for two-time Pan American Champion Chuck Jefferson (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) to contend for his third gold medal. Men's Open The men's open division will be determined during the competition. 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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