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Jul 23 Junior World Championship Trials to be Held at WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort on Saturday

July 23, 2009, 11:45 p.m. (ET)

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - The road to Olympic and World Championship gold frequently begins for most judo players years before the Games at the Junior World Championships where most of the top senior players get their first taste of international glory, including more than a third of the 2008 Olympic medalists who were former Junior World medalists in the years before.

The pinnacle of competition for athletes ages 19 and younger, the Junior World Championships is now held annually with players competing in eight men's and women's weight divisions.

The journey to this year's Junior Worlds, which will be held Oct. 22-25 in Athens, Greece, will begin on Saturday at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.

The Junior World Trials are being held in conjunction with the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships.  All Junior World hopefuls must compete in the IJF-Junior (under-20) division.  If the top seed in a division wins the gold medal, he or she will be named to the team.  If that player loses, he or she will have a one-match fight-off with the gold medalist of the division.

Although most of the previous Junior World Team members have since aged out, several returnees will be on hand to take their shot at gold again, including:

  • Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 78kg), 2008 Junior World Champion
  • Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami / 52kg), 2006 Junior Worlds fifth-place finisher at 48kg
  • Angela Creutzberger (Ballston Spa, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center / 48kg), 2008 Junior World Team member
  • Chrissy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri / 52kg), 2008 Junior World Team member
  • Helen Delpopolo (Westfield, N.J. / 70kg), 2008 Junior World Team member
  • Kyle Vashkulat (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center / 100kg), 2008 Junior World Team member
  • Colin Robinson (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center / +100kg), 2008 Junior World Team member

Preliminary competition for the Junior World Trials is expected to begin at approximately 11 a.m. 

A complete preview of divisions is as follows:

Women's 44kg

Along with the men's 55kg division, the lightest weight will be contested for the first time at the Junior Worlds this year.  Veronica Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami), the reigning Senior National Champion, is the top seed in the division.  Prado, like several of her opponents has fought in both the 44kg and 48kg divisions over the past year.  Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri), the 2008 Senior Pan Am Champion at 44kg, won bronze in the 48kg division at the Senior Nationals, but moved back down to 44kg for this event.  Alexa Liddie (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center) moved up to 48kg last year as well.  Liddie dropped down to 44kg in June where she won the National President's Cup Championships.

Women's 48kg

In April, Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I. / NYAC / Mayo Quanchi Judo Club) became the youngest U.S. player ever to qualify for a Senior World Championship Team at just 14-years-old.  Bouyssou, who will be competing at the Cadet World Championships for 15-16-year-olds in two weeks, will be looking for her first berth on a Junior World Team after losing to #2 seed Angela Creutzberger (Ballston Spa, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) at the 2008 Junior World Trials. 

Women's 52kg

Kayla Chappell (Oklahoma City, Okla. / USA Stars), a fifth-place finisher at the Senior Pan Ams, is the top seed in the division and will be looking to qualify for her first Junior World Team.  Second-seed Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) placed fifth as a 48kg player at the 2006 Junior Worlds.  Rodriguez moved up to 52kg in 2008, but hasn't lost a match to a U.S. junior in three years.  Jessica Irons (Yorkville, Ill. / Yorkville Judo) is the #3 seed in the division.  Irons and Rodriguez recently fought at the National President's Cup Championships with Rodriguez taking the win, but Irons also earned an upset over Chappell at the same tournament.  Fourth seed Chrissy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) was a member of the 2008 Junior World Team.  After briefly moving up to 57kg at the Youth and Scholastic Nationals in March, Chow returned to 52kg where she placed fifth at the Senior Nationals.

Women's 57kg

Top seed Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) narrowly missed qualifying for both the 2006 and 2008 Junior World Teams, but the 2008 Senior Nationals silver medalist will have her final chance to qualify this year as she will age out of the junior division next year.  Delgado could be challenged by a newcomer to the 57kg division, Mindy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri), who moved up from 52kg in April where she won a bronze medal at the Senior Nationals.

Women's 63kg

Jillian Roman (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center) won her first junior tournament at the Youth and Scholastic Nationals which she followed with a gold medal in June at the Pan Am Junior Championships. 

Women's 70kg

A returning member of the 2008 Junior World Team, 16-year-old Helen Delpopolo (Westfield, N.J.) is the top seed in the division.  The #2 seed, Laquinta Allen (Lauderdale Lakes, / Onikusu) upset Delpopolo at the Youth and Scholastic Nationals, but Delpopolo won their last match at the Senior Nationals

Women's 78kg

Reigning Junior World Champion Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) enters the junior season with the goal of becoming the first U.S. player to win two Junior World titles.  Undefeated in her career in the U.S. IJF-Junior division, Harrison will be challenged by #2 seed Katinna Rodriguez (Anchorage, Alaska / All-Star Judo).who placed third at the Senior Nationals. 

Women's +78kg

The #4-ranked senior in the 78kg division, Kaitlyn McKim (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center) moved up to heavyweight this week where she will compete against Pan Am Juvenile medalist Micaela Enriquez (Burleson, Texas / Ruben Martin Judo Training Center).

Men's 55kg

Matt Dong (San Jose, Calif. / San Jose Buddhist), a four-time Scholastic and High School National Champion, will finally have the opportunity to qualify for a Junior World Team after the lightest men's weight division was recently added to the Junior World program.  The #2 seed is Robby Schultheis (Gurnee, Ill. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) who won his first senior gold medal at the National President's Cup Championships. 

Men's 60kg

Top seed Arnold Toriumi (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) placed fifth at his first USA Judo Senior National Championships in April.  One of several Hawaiians competing at the Junior Olympics this weekend, Toriumi could find his biggest challenger to be Everet Desilets (Providence, R.I. / Mayo Quanchi) who recently qualified to compete at the Cadet World Championships in two weeks in Budapest, Hungary.

Men's 66kg

Kyle Taketa (Torrance, Calif. / Gardena Judo) became one of the youngest medalists at the Senior Pan Ams when he won a bronze as a 55kg player in 2007.  Now 17, Taketa has moved up two weight divisions and placed fifth at the Senior Nationals earlier this year.  Anthony Kwon (Kaneohe, Hawaii / Hodokan), a silver medalist at the President's Cup, is the #2 seed in the division.

Men's 73kg

Sixteen-year-old Andrew Porras (Hialeah, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) has won the last four Junior National events in which he has competed as well as placing second at the Senior Jose Ramon Rodriguez Championships where he upset the reigning Cuban National Champion.  The #2 seed is Matthew Parker (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center) who lost a close match to Porras in March at the Youth and Scholastic Nationals.  Alfred Raymond (Providence, R.I. / Mayo Quanchi Judo Club) recently moved back down to 73kg from 81kg and will be competing at the Junior Olympics after placing fifth at the Senior Nationals.

Men's 81kg

Colton Brown (Piscataway, N.J. / Cranford Judo) moved into the #1 ranking in the division after winning his first trip to the Youth and Scholastic Nationals and adding a bronze medal at the Senior Nationals.  In his final competition before the Cadet Worlds, Jeremy Galib (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) will be competing as the division's #2 seed.  Jonathan Fernandez (Miami, Fla. / Baragua Judo Club), a finalist at the 2008 Junior World Trials, is the #3 seed in the division.

Men's 90kg

Tony Sangimino (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), a former Pan Am Juvenile medalist, is the top seed in the division.  The reigning Scholastic National Champion, Sangimino is on the opposite side of the draw from 2009 Pan Am Junior medalist Michael Harrison (Burke, Va. / Sport Judo).

Men's 100kg

A 2008 Junior World Team member, top seed Kyle Vashkulat (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) moved up from 90kg in 2007 and won a bronze medal at his first Senior Nationals that year.  A 2009 Senior Pan Am Team member, Vashkulat advanced to his first Senior National final in April.

Men's +100kg

Colin Robinson (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center), a 2008 Junior World Team member, is the top seed in the division.  Jimmy Barnes (Oklahoma City, Okla. / USA Stars), who placed third behind Robinson at the Scholastic Nationals, also will be competing.

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