August 1, 2003
The USJF Junior and Youth Judo National Championships were held this year in Boca Raton, Florida, hosting nearly 700 competitors from across the country. The East Bay Judo Institute of El Cerrito, California sent five representatives: Stephanie Hata, Marija Djokic, Veronica Castillo, Robert Cohea and Dale Hata to compete in this event. Together they brought home six medals, four golds and two silvers, for their efforts.
Dale Hata, an incoming freshman at El Cerrito High School, opened day one of competition for East Bay Judo. Competing in the 15-16 year old, under 60 kilo division at only 13 years of age and a substantial weight disadvantage, Hata won four matches to earn him a gold medal and the Outstanding Competitor award for the day. He easily disposed of his first opponent, throwing him for a full point well under the 5 minute time limit. His second match, against High School National Champion, Jason Wright, was a hard fought match lasting the full five minutes, with Dale coming out on top with a minor penalty. Dale then solidly pinned his third round opponent, Michael Demarrias, for a full point, sending him into the final match against A.J. Silverman in which he shocked the crowd by throwing Silverman with a smooth inside foot sweep for the win in the first ten seconds of the match.
Also representing EBJI in the 15-16 year old, under 60 kilo division was Robert Cohea. Cohea had several hard fought matches, and gave a solid performance for the East Bay Judo team, winning two matches before being eliminated.
Veronica Castillo, competing in the 15-16 year old, under 63 kilo division, breezed through her first opponent, garnering full points with a solid throw. She then proceeded to choke her second opponent to submission, putting her into the final match against rival Janine Nakao of Monterey, California, whom she had defeated in the final match of High School Nationals earlier this year. Nakao came on strong, throwing Castillo for a half-point, then pinning her for partial points. However, Castillo fought her way back, tying up the score with a throw for a half-point, and then forcing Nakao into non-combativity penalties for the win.
EBJI had two representatives in the 17-19 year old, under 63 kilo division on the second day of competition. Marija Djokic, a sophomore at San Francisco State University, drew a bye in the first round, then solidly threw Bethany Ogazewalla, for a full point, putting her into the finals against teammate Veronica Castillo, who bulldozed her way through rivals Janine Nakao and Melanie Vega-Borga to reach the final match. The final match was played cautiously by both competitors, with Djokic, the older and more experienced competitor coming out on top, giving her the gold medal, and Castillo the silver.
Dale Hata, competing in the 13-14 year old, under 58 kilo division, took a silver medal in his second day of competition. He effortlessly pinned Kenneth Bradford of Florida for full points, then threw both his second and third opponent with beautiful foot sweeps to take him into the semi-final match against Rafael Ramos, in which he got caught with a drop shoulder throw for a full point. Hata then dropped down to compete for second place, in which he choked Bryant Chen of California into submission, to take home the silver.
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 promptly choked her first opponent from Hawaii into submission, putting her into the finals against Nicki Schulteis, of Illinois. Hata came out on top, pinning Schulteis near the end of the time limit, giving her the win and the gold medal.
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 well fought matches, and turned in a gutsy performance.
The East Bay Judo Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the teaching of Kodokan Judo. It’s