The nation’s best of the best will be at the Senior National Championships this weekend before heading for the ‘big points’ promised to victors at the Pan American Championships in Costa Rica.
The Senior National Championships this weekend in Virginia is a cornerstone of judo competition in the United States, where any U.S. athlete with a brown belt or better can see what they’re made of, and this year they can test their mettle against the very best in the nation -- Kayla Harrison, Marti Malloy, Travis Stevens, Myles Porter and Dartanyon Crockett will all be there.
For these Olympians and Paralympians, the Senior Nationals is a great lead-in to the Pan American Championships, April 19 - 21. Almost as soon as the Senior Nationals are done in Virginia Beach, they climb on a plane to San Jose, capital of Costa Rica, for the big points at the Pan American Championships.
“The Senior Nationals is a great warm up for the Pan American Championships,” said Eddie Liddie, USA Judo’s Director of High Performance. The Pan American Championships is an important tournament that draws the very best of qualifying athletes from Canada through Argentina. These continental championships offer 400 international ranking points for a gold medal, 240 for silver and 160 for bronze, more than a Grand Prix tournament and just below a Grand Slam.
In addition to the senior divisions, there will be a special brown belt division, a master’s division, a Paralympic and kata divisions. Go to the PACKET for more information on registration. Athletes can still walk up to register!
Kayla Harrison (USA Judo National Training Site, Pedro’s Judo Center/NYAC, Wakefield, Mass.) will be fighting at under 78 kg at the Senior Nationals and then in the 70 kg division at the Pan American Championships. She made history in London last summer as the first U.S. judo athlete to take an Olympic gold medal in the sport. It was an historic year for judo with Marti Malloy, 57 kg (USA Judo National Training Site, San Jose State University Judo, CA) taking bronze at the Olympic Games and Travis Stevens, 81 kg (USA Judo National Training Site, Pedro’s Judo Center/NYAC, Wakefield, Mass.) taking 5th after a brilliant performance. Then Myles Porter 100 kg (USA Judo National Training Site, Olympic Training Center, CO) took silver and Dartanyon Crockett, 90 kg (USA Judo National Training Site, Olympic Training Center, CO) took bronze at the Paralympic Games in London following the Olympics.
Adding to the drama this weekend, Japanese Olympic Judo Gold Medalist and MMA fighter, Satoshi Ishii, returns to USA Judo’s Senior National Championships to fight in the open division.
Ishii twice took gold at the prestigious All-Japan Championships in Tokyo and gold in the 100+ kg division at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He moved quickly to pursue a career in mixed martial arts but maintained a presence in judo, taking gold in the spring of 2011 in the open division at USA Judo’s Senior National Championships.