More upsets on DAY 2 of Senior Nationals as stars fight for spots on World/PanAm teams

From USA Judo:
LIVE Stream called “huge success,” and LIVE chat a big presence at tourney.

April 30, 2011, Orlando, FL – Day Two of the Senior National Championships was marked by more upsets as top judo fighters sparred for coveted spots on USA Judo’s World Team and Pan American Games Team, exceeding expectations for red hot matches befitting this premier event.

All the action was broadcast LIVE over the internet with fans throughout the country joining commentators mat-side in LIVE CHAT, a first for USA Judo and a “huge success,” said USA Judo CEO Jose Rodriguez.

“Our guys performed so well,” Rodriguez said. “They fought hard and there were so many great matches. This was best Senior Nationals in years.”

Kayla Harrison (Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.), one of the nation’s best shots at a gold in the Olympics next hear, easily conquered her 78 kg division, taking the $500 purse that went with every gold in all but the open weight division of senior shiai  (not including kata, masters and visually impaired divisions).

Also dominating a division today was Japanese Olympic Gold Medalist and MMA fighter Satoshi Ishii, who confirmed in an interview that his goal was to fight for the USA. Wearing his gi with a US flag on his chest for the interview with commentators, Ishii stated through an interpreter that it was a dream since he was young to fight for the United States, “so today was a stepping stone toward that.” Asked about his judo and career in Mixed Martial Arts, Ishii said that he’d been emphasizing kick boxing and wrestling in his training.

Many other matches were hotly contested as one- and two-ranked players battled for the $500 purse and prized positions on USA Judo’s World Team and Pan American Games Team.

The first- and second-place winners in each division qualified for spots on USA Judo’s World Team that will fight in the World Championships in Paris, France, in August.

Winning a spot to fight in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara in October is a bit more complex: If the number-one seeded athlete won the division at the Senior Nationals, he or she automatically won a spot to fight in the Pan American Games. If anyone other than the number-one seed won, then the number one seed and the winner of the Nationals fought for two-out-of-three to join the Pan Am team.

Broadcast LIVE were several best-of-three “Fight Offs” for those coveted positions.

In the 66 kg division, Kenny Hashimoto (National Training Site, San Jose State University / Northglenn Judo, CO) upset Brad Bolen (Jason Morris Judo Center), ranked first in the country, for the gold, finishing with an ippon after an early wazari and yuko. Then he went on to win the first round in the Fight Off with a wazari. Bolen took the second fight with an ippon choke. But then Hashimoto won the third fight with an ippon throw.

Angela Creutzberger (Jason Morris Judo Center) won the national championship over higher-ranked Ann Shiraishi (East Bay Judo Institute) which triggered another Fight Off. Shiraishi won the first round by ippon with a counter. But then Creutzberger took the second and third rounds to win the two-out-of-three.

In another dramatic Fight Off, Natalie Lafon (Jason Morris Judo Center) faced Angelica Delgado (Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center in Coral Springs, Florida) with Lafon winning the first round by an ippon throw with maybe a second on the clock to go. Delgado won the second round by ippon with a big forward throw, and then the third round with a partial score, capturing the spot to fight in the PanAm Games.

About 500 athletes competed at the Senior Nationals, held in conjunction with the Europa Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

For complete results, click HERE.

— Story by Ernest Pund and Ryan John.

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