Team USA Takes Seven Medals At USA Judo's First International Champs For The Blind And Visually Impaired

By Ernest Pund | July 15, 2013, 3:09 a.m. (ET)


July 14, 2013 - The heat was way up as Paralympians and black belts packed the brackets at USA Judo’s first International Championships for the Blind and Visually Impaired, capping a weekend of three tournaments this weekend in Colorado Springs, CO, for this growing segment of the sport.

Team USA judoka won a total of seven medals amid the 15 nations with athletes at the tournament. Many of those who landed on the podium were veterans and Paralympic medalists, including U.S. Paralympic Silver Medalist Myles Porter and Bronze Medalist Dartanyon Crockett.

A training camp for athletes follows this week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Organizers and USA Judo coaches applauded the success and pointed to bigger tournaments next year and beyond.

Taking a silver medal today for Team USA was Sara Luna, 70kg, of USA Judo Paralympic National Training Site at Menomonee Judo in Chicago, IL. The 16-year-old Luna was the only U.S. athlete to compete in all three tournaments this weekend, taking a silver medal in all three, including the World Youth and Student Championships and the IBSA Para Pan American Games Saturday, said her coach, Brett Wolf.

Collecting bronze medals at the International Championships were Dartanyon Crockett, 90 kg., and Ron Hawthorne, 60 kg., both of USA Judo’s Training Site at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs; Gaia Iacarrino +70 Kg, Menomonee/Chicago, IL; Ryan Jones - 81kg., Denver Judo/Englewood, CO; Cindy Simon, 57 kg, Kokushikai of Wayne, NJ; and Mike Larsen +100 kg., Cahill's Judo in San Bruno, CA.

Ron Hawthorne took his second bronze for the weekend. “Today I was more aggressive, I was a lot looser and I didn’t hold back,” starting with his first match that he won with a real floor-pounding uchimata for ippon. He went for 2-1 for the day.

For Ben Goodrich, a successful high school wrestler who took a gold at the World Youth and Student Games Saturday, competition was more challenging at the International Championships, where he faced a Japanese black belt in the first round – Goodrich is a yellow belt. Still, he stayed in the fight for solidly more than four minutes before he was thrown, and U.S. coaches applauded his potential and had begun discussing ways to build on his experience and training.

Twenty-year-old Goodrich of the University of Minnesota said he’s remaining for the training camp this week in Colorado Springs and that he is targeting upcoming competitions. “It’s definitely something that I will pursue. It’s something that I could be good at it, especially with the background that I have and my competitive nature … It’s all about competition, you and one other person out there.”

Crockett went 2-1 at the International Championships to take bronze Sunday after taking silver at the Para Pan American Games Saturday. Blocking his path up the podium was Cuba’s Jorge Hierrezuelo Marcillis, Crockett’s new rival and the man to beat en route to Rio and 2016 Paralympic Games. Cuban Marcillis took gold in Crockett’s division in London. “I want to get that gold in Rio,” said Crockett. “He’s the one to beat.”

Following are the U.S. rosters for the three competitions:

World Youth and Student Championship Team:

Cassaries Johnson, Menomonee Judo/Chicago, IL
Josh Farra, Liberty Bell Judo/Philadelphia, PA
Nadia Montanez, Menomonee Judo/Chicago, IL
Sara Luna, Menomonee Judo/Chicago, IL
Korbin Anderson, Twin Cities Judo/Bloomington, IL
Ashleigh Heitt, Colorado Springs Judo Center/ Colorado Springs, CO
Robert Tanaka, Ju Shin Kan Judo/Denver, CO
Benjamin Goodrich, University of Minnesota/Minneapolis, MN

Pan American Team:

Ron Hawthorne - 60kg US Olympic Training Center/Colorado Springs, CO
Josh Sisson - 66kg Welcome Mat Judo/Kansas City, MO
Josh Farra - 73kg Liberty Bell Judo/Philadelphia, PA
Adana Gutic - 81kg White Tiger Judo/St. Louis, MO
Ryan Jones - 81kg Denver Judo/Englewood, CO
Dartanyon Crockett - 90kg US Olympic Training Center/Colorado Springs, CO
Myles Porter - 100kg US Olympic Training Center/Colorado Springs, CO 
Steve Mulhern +100kg Liberty Bell Judo/Philadelphia, PA
Mike Larsen +100kg Cahill's Judo/San Bruno, CA

Tina Thomas - 48kg, Mojica Judo/Los Angeles, CA

Cindy Simon - 57kg, Kokushikai/Wayne, NJ

Sara Luna - 70kg, Menomonee/Chicago, IL

Gaia Iacarrino +70 Kg, Menomonee/Chicago, IL

 Head Coach - Scott Moore, Denver Judo/Englewood, CO

Team Leader - Marc Vink, Liberty Bell Judo/Philadelphia, PA