USA Judo News Dominic Rodriguez Wi...

Dominic Rodriguez Wins Gold at 17, Leads Team USA to Eight Pan Am Medals

By Nicole Jomantas | April 17, 2022, 12:26 p.m. (ET)




(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – It had been nine years since a U.S. man stood on top of the podium at the Senior Pan American Championships and it would be a 17-year-old who would break the drought, winning the 73kg title and making history in the process.

2022 Senior Pan American and Oceania Championships

Dominic Rodriguez (Lehigh Acres, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) came into the Senior Pan American and Oceania Championships on Friday fresh off a bronze medal finish at the Junior Pan Ams last weekend. By the end of the day, he would not only watch the American flag be raised, but become the youngest U.S. athlete to win gold in an Olympic weight at the event since Ronda Rousey (Santa Monica, Calif. / NYAC) won her first title as a 17 year old in 2004. The title win also makes Rodriguez the youngest U.S. man to win gold in an Olympic weight in the modern era. He also becomes the first U.S. man to win gold in any weight category since his teammate, two-time Olympian Nick Delpopolo (Fort Worth, Texas / Fort Worth Judo) won the 73kg title in 2013.

The team’s youngest member also would lead the United States to an eight-medal finish over the course of the two-day event with the United States earning one gold, one silver and six bronze medals. The finish marked the most medals won by Team USA at the event since 2017, trailing only Brazil at 15 in the total medal count. Cuba and Canada earned six medals each.

After a bye into the second round, Rodriguez threw two-time Senior Pan Am silver medalist Eduardo Araujo (MEX) for a waza-ari (half-point) score in the third minute and moved into a pin to close the match. With just over a minute remaining in the quarter-finals, Rodriguez threw three-time Senior Pan Am Champion Antoine Bouchard (CAN) for a waza-ari score and held his opponent scoreless for the remainder of the match. In the semifinals, Rodriguez threw three-time Pan Am Champion Magdiel Estrada (CUB) for a waza-ari and went straight into groundwork, choking the Cuban for the win. With a medal guaranteed, Rodriguez met six-time Pan Am medalist Alonso Wong (PER) in the finals. Wong caught Rodriguez with a throw that was waved off, but the 17-year-old remained unfazed as he continued to attack and ultimately threw Wong for ippon (instant win) to take the title.

The high school senior was just one of five U.S. athletes to stand on the podium on Friday.

Two-time Olympian Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) won her eighth career Pan American Championship medal with a silver in the 52kg division. Delgado opened with three wins by pin, defeating Maria Mora (VEN) in the first minute of her opening round and Paulina Martinez (MEX) in Golden Score in the quarter-finals. In the semifinals, Delgado took on two-time Senior Pan Am medalist Katelyn Jarrell (East Greenwich, R.I. / NYAC / Mayo Quanchi) and claimed the win, throwing her teammate for a waza-ari score and pinning her for ippon. Jarrell went on to fight for bronze, but was pinned by Tinka Easton (AUS), the 2017 Senior Oceania Champion, and finished fifth. The 52kg gold medal final would be a familiar one for judo fans as Delgado met Larissa Pimenta (BRA) to fight for gold for the third time in the last four years. Pimenta would earn her sixth career Pan Am title when Delgado went in for a tomoe nage (circular throw) and got pinned for a waza-ari.

Fighting at her first Senior Pan Ams for Team USA, former Cuban National Team member Maria Celia Laborde (Kenosha, Wis. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) won bronze in the 48kg division. Laborde, who took seven years off from competition after winning bronze at the 2014 Senior World Championships, threw Camila Marcellet (ARG) for two waza-ari scores to win her first match. In the quarter-finals, Laborde took Mary Dee Vargas (CHI) to Golden Score, but lost by three penalties to two in the third minute. With seven seconds left on the clock in her repechage match, Laborde threw Jacqueline Solis (GUA) for a waza-ari score to advance to the bronze medal final. She won her final match against two-time Senior Pan Am medalist Keisy Perafan (ARG) by two waza-ari scores.

Last year, Ari Berliner (Cumming, Ga. / NYAC / Jason Morris Judo Center) advanced to the bronze medal final in his Senior Pan Am debut, but fell short of the 66kg podium with a fifth-place finish. This time, Berliner would avenge the loss, earning his first bronze medal at the Pan American Championships. Berliner got off to a strong start, throwing and pinning Michael Vargas (CHI) in his first match. In the quarter-finals, Berliner and Eric Takabatke (BRA) each had a waza-ari score on the board when the Brazilian threw Berliner for ippon with three seconds on the clock en route to his third career Senior Pan Am gold. Although Berliner was given two penalties in the next match, he finished strong, throwing Willis Garcia (VEN) for ippon in the final minute. Berliner ended with another throw for ippon, taking out 2021 Junior Pan American Champion Juan Ayala (ECU) to win bronze.

Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo) qualified for her second Senior Pan Am Team after competing as a 17 year old in 2021. In the quarter-finals, Holguin pinned 2020 Junior Pan Am bronze medalist Brisa Gomez (ARG), but lost her next match to the reigning Senior Pan Am Champion Arnaes Odelin Garcia (CUB) by three penalties to one in Golden Score. Fighting for bronze, Holguin threw Ana Rosa (DOM) for a waza-ari score to clinch a position on the podium.

On Saturday, Team USA ended the tournament with three more bronze medals.

Eighteen-year-old Christian Konoval (Rockport, Texas / NYAC / Becerra Judo Club) became the second junior of the weekend to reach the podium with his bronze medal finish in the +100kg event. Konoval’s win makes him the first U.S. man to win a Senior Pan Am medal in the heavyweight division since 2012. In the quarter-finals, Konoval faced 2018 Senior Pan Am Champion Freddy Figueroa (ECU) and took the win by three penalties to one. In the semifinals, Konoval met two-time Olympic Champion Rafael Silva (BRA) who threw Konoval for a waza-ari score and took Konoval to the ground, taking a tapout win before going on to win his seventh Pan Am Championship gold. In the bronze medal final, Konoval forced 2021 Senior Pan Am bronze medalist Sergio Del Sol (MEX) into three penalties to reach the podium.

Thirty-seven-year-old Nina Cutro-Kelly (Selma, Texas / Universal Judo) won her fourth career medal at the Senior Pan American Championships with her bronze in the +78kg division. Although Thalia Narino Castellano (CUB) threw Cutro-Kelly for a waza-ari in the quarter-finals, Cutro-Kelly came back in the repechage, winning the next two matches to take bronze. In her first repechage bout, Cutro-Kelly threw Brigitte Carabali (COL) for a waza-ari in the first minute and moved into a pin for ippon. In the finals, Cutro-Kelly threw Amarantha Urdaneta (VEN) for ippon, but the call was waved off. In Golden Score, Cutro-Kelly continued attacking and threw Urdaneta for a waza-ari score.

Competing at his first Senior Pan Ams, John Jayne (Chicago, Ill.) won bronze in the 90kg division. Jayne and Jose Arroyo Osorio (PER), a 2019 World Veteran bronze medalist, fought with no score throughout regulation before Jayne threw Arroyo for a waza-ari in Golden Score. Jayne led Ivo Dargoltz (ARG) by a waza-ari score and then threw Dargoltz for ippon. In the semis, Jayne and 2018 Senior World silver medalist Ivan Felipe Silva Morales (CUB) went just over three minutes before the Cuban threw Jayne for a waza-ari. In the finals, Jayne fought Harrison Cassar (AUS) – one of 11 Australians at the tournament following the addition of athletes from Oceania to the event this year. Jayne threw Cassar for a waza-ari in the third minute to secure the win.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Men’s 60kg
1. Sebastian Sancho (CRC)
2. Danny Porte Valdiviezo (CUB)
3. Joshua Katz (AUS)
3. Bernabe Vergara (PAN)
5. Ivan Salas (VEN)
5. Johan Rojas (COL)
7. Nicolas Gomez (ARG)
7. Jose Ramos (GUA)

Also Competed: Jacob More (Alva, Fla. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center), 0-1

Men’s 66kg
1. Eric Takabatake (BRA)
2. Juan Postigos (PER)
3. Ari Berliner (Cumming, Ga. / NYAC / Jason Morris Judo Center)
3. Willian Lima (BRA)
5. Juan Ayala (ECU)
5. Juan Hernandez (COL)
7. Willis Garcia (VEN)
7. Isaiah Ramirez (Barstow, Calif. / Barstow PAL Judo Club)

Men’s 73kg
1. Dominic Rodriguez (Lehigh Acres, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)

2. Alonso Wong (PER)
3. Antoine Bouchard (CAN)
3. Magdiel Estrada (CUB)
5. Gilberto Cardoso (MEX)
5. Daniel Gargnin (BRA)
7. Arkangel Barbosa (COL)
7. Arthur Margelidon (CAN)

Men’s 81kg
1. Guilherme Schimidt (BRA)
2. Vincius Panini (BRA)
3. Francois Gauthier Drapeau (CAN)
3. Etienne Briand (CAN)
5. Samuel Ayala (MEX)
5. Medickson Del Orbe Cortorreal (DOM)
7. Nick Yonezuka (West Long Branch, N.J. / NYAC / Cranford Judo),
7. Tomas Morales (ARG)

Also Competed: Nick Delpopolo (Fort Worth, Texas / Fort Worth Judo), 0-1

Men’s 90kg
1. Ivan Felipe Silva Morales (CUB)
2. Marcelo Gomes (BRA)
3. Robert Florentino (DOM)
3. John Jayne (Chicago, Ill.)
5. Harrison Cassar (AUS)
5. Keagan Young (CAN)
7. Ivo Dargoltz (ARG)
7. Yuta Galarreta Villar (PER)

Men’s 100kg
1. Shady Elnahas (CAN)
2. Rafael Buzacarini (BRA)
3. Daryl Yamamoto Servan (PER)
3. Kayhan Ozcicek-Takagi (AUS)
5. Ian Ryder (CAN)
5. Liester Cardona (CUB)
7. Rafael Romo (CHI)
7. L.A. Smith III (Rahway, N.J.)

Men’s +100kg
1. Andy Granda (CUB)
2. Rafael Silva (BRA)
3. Christian Konoval (Rockport, Texas / NYAC / Becerra Judo)
3. Francisco Solis (CHI)
5. Sergio Del Sol (MEX)
5. Marc Deschenes (CAN)
7. Freddy Figueroa (ECU)
7. Kody Andrews (NZL)

Women’s 48kg
1. Amanda Lima (BRA)
2. Mary Dee Vargas Ley (CHI)
3. Estefania Soriano (DOM)
3. Maria Celia Laborde (Kenosha, Wis. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
5. Keisy Perafan (ARG)
5. Edna Carrillo (MEX)
7. Luz Pena (ECU)
7. Jacqueline Solis (GUA)

Women’s 52kg
1. Larissa Pimenta (BRA)
2. Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
3. Kelly Deguchi (CAN)
3. Tinka Easton (AUS)
5. Katelyn Jarrell (East Greenwich, R.I. / NYAC / Mayo Quanchi)
5. Kristine Jimenez (PAN)
7. Melissa Hurtado Munoz (CUB)
7. Paulina Martinez (MEX)

Women’s 57kg
1. Jessica Lima (BRA)
2. Arnaes Odelin Garcia (CUB)
3. Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo)
3. Rafaela Silva (BRA)
5. Brisa Gomez (ARG)
5. Ana Rosa (DOM)
7. Sasha Munoz (CHI)
7. Kiara Arango Miranda (PER)

Women’s 63kg
1. Katharina Haecker (AUS)
2. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN)
3. Yusmari Reyes Laffita (CUB)
3. Cindy Mera (COL)
5. Prisca Awiti Alcaraz (MEX)
5. Ketleyn Quadros (BRA)
7. Anriquelis Barrios (VEN)
7. Alisha Galles (Lancaster, Calif. / NYAC)

Also Competed: Sara Golden (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center), 0-1

Women’s 70kg
1. Elvismar Rodriguez (VEN)
2. Luana Carvalho (BRA)
3. Aoife Coughlan (AUS)
3. Maria Portela (BRA)
5. Celinda Corozo (ECU)
5. Estefania Garcia (ECU)
7. Chantal Wright (San Antonio, Texas / Semper Fortis Judo)
7. Luisa Bonilla (COL)

Also Competed: Nicole Stout (Schenectady, N.Y. / Jason Morris Judo Center), 0-1

Women’s 78kg
1. Mayra Aguiar (BRA)
2. Karen Leon (VEN)
3. Moira De Villiers (NZL)
3. Eiraima Silvestre (DOM)
5. Gorguet Maidelines (CUB)
5. Camila Figueroa Aquino (PER)
7. Karina Venegas (CHI)
7. Coralie Godbout (CAN)

Women’s +78kg
1. Beatriz Souza (BRA)
2. Yuliana Bolivar Gonzalez (PER)
3. Moira Morillo (DOM)
3. Nina Cutro-Kelly (Selma, Texas / Universal Judo)
5. Amarantha Urdaneta (VEN)
5. Thalia Narino Castellano (CUB)
7. Naomis Elizarde Suarez (CUB)
7. Brigitte Carabali (COL)