(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - With three of the five U.S. players competing at the Finland Open in Vantaa this weekend coming off top-five finishes at the Sweden Open a week ago, trips to the podium are the goals for the Americans when they fight in the B-Level tournament.
Competing for the first time in the 52kg division, 18-year-old Jeanette Rodriguez (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) placed fifth a week ago in Boras, Sweden. A former National Champion and Pan Am Games medalist, Rodriguez was a bronze medalist in her former 48kg division in Finland last year.
Rodriguez's 48kg bronze was one of three won in the 48kg division last year and 2008 U.S. Olympic Team alternate Ann Shiraishi (San Francisco, Calif. / East Bay Judo Institute) will be back after placing second in 2007 in Finland and seventh last week in Sweden.
Reigning Senior National Champion Natalie Lafon (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) also will be competing in the 48kg division after fighting for bronze and placing fifth in Sweden.
After making her first trip to the medal rounds in a European senior tournament when she placed fifth in Sweden, 2008 Senior Nationals silver medalist Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) will be fighting again in the 57kg division.
Bobby Lee (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE), the 2008 Senior National Champion in the 73kg division, did not place in Sweden, but the former U.S. Open Champion could be a candidate for a medal in Finland.
Competition schedule is as follows:
Saturday, November 8
Men's 60kg, 73kg, 90kg and +100kg
Women's 48kg, 57kg, 78kg and +78kg
Sunday, November 9
Men's 66kg, 81kg and 100kg
Women's 52kg, 57kg and 63kg