August 1, 2003
The U. S. Judo Junior Open was held this year in Boca Raton, Florida, hosting nearly 700 competitors from many different countries. Representing the East Bay Judo Institute at this event were Stephanie Hata, Marija Djokic, Veronica Castillo, Robert Cohea and Dale Hata, who brought back a total of four medals, three gold and one bronze.
Veronica Castillo, sophomore at El Cerrito High School, opened day one of competition for East Bay Judo. Competing in the 15-16 year old, under 63 kilo division, Castillo choked her first opponent into submission, then disposed of her second opponent with an inside reap throw for full points, putting her into the final match against Brazilian national team member Rodrigues-Martins. In this exciting final match, Castillo, pressured Rodrigues Martins into multiple stalling penalties and held on for the win, and the gold medal.
Also representing EBJI in the first day of competition was Robert Cohea. Cohea had several hard fought matches, and gave a solid performance for the East Bay Judo team.
Dale Hata opened the second day of competition, competing in the 13-14 year old, under 58 kilo division. He effortlessly pinned Matt Kang of Cupertino, California, for full points, then threw his second opponent with an inside reap to take him into the semi-final match against Rafael Ramos, whom he had faced the previous weekend. With both competitors saavy to each other’s techniques, the only score in the match was a stalling penalty for Hata, which gave Ramos the win. Hata then dropped down to compete for third place, in which he threw Bryant Chen of California for a minor score, to take home the bronze.
Next up for EBJI were Marija Djokic and Veronica Castillo, both competing in the 17-19 year old, under 63 kilo division. Marija Djokic, a sophomore at San Francisco State University, solidly threw Kendra Dorr of Colorado, for a full point,and then defeated teammate Veronica Castillo, putting her into the finals against Julyana Courto-Rodriguez of Brazil. This final match was undoubtedly the most exciting match of the day, as Djokic, trailing by half a point with less than a minute remaining in the match time, pulled off a stunning throw for a full point, giving her the gold medal, and earning her an award for outstanding female competitor. Veronica Castillo turned in a strong performance, competing in three hard fought matches against teammate Djokic, and bronze medal winners, Melanie Vega-Borga of Florida and Rodriguez-Martins of Brazil.
Robert Cohea, moved up an age division, and competed in the 17-19 year old, under 60 kilo division for the second day of competition. Cohea had several tough matches, including one against former triple-crown winner Kenny Hashimoto of Colorado, turning in a strong performance.
Stephanie Hata, freshman at UC Davis, finished up competition for EBJI by taking a gold medal in the 17-19 year old, under 48 kilo division. After drawing a bye in the first round of competition, she quickly pinned Annie Shiraishi of Sacramento, CA, putting her into the finals against Nicki Schulteis, of Illinois, whom she had faced in the finals of the previous weekend. Hata came out on top, pinning Schulteis for a half point in the middle of the match, then held on for the win and the gold medal.
The East Bay Judo Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the teaching of Kodokan Judo. It’s