The USA Judo Junior Olympics were held July 28th and 29th in Indianapolis, Indiana. The over 600 competitors from across the country made the Junior Olympics one of the most premier judo events in the U.S. Representing the East Bay Judo Institute, located in El Cerrito, were: Dale Hata, Veronica Castillo, Jessica Hsieh, Marti Malloy, Stephanie Hata and Molly O’Rourke. The delegation came away with a stunning count of 5 gold and one silver medals.
Thirteen-year-old Dale Hata led the team with a gold medal in the Juvenile A, 53 kg (116 lb) division. His first match was against Anthony Maerten (NC). Hata was on fire that day, throwing everyone with kouchigari (minor inner reap). He caught Maerten for ippon (full point-equivalent to a knockout in boxing), and advanced to meet Nick Delpopolo (NY) in the second round. These two had competed previously at the US Judo Federation Junior Nationals this past July 7-8. The match was very exciting, both players giving it their all. Hata got caught for a koka (minor point) early in the match, but was able to recover by throwing Delpopolo twice with beautiful kouchigaris for two yukos. He managed to hang on for the win, advancing to the next round where he faced Michael Bernikow (NY). Hata threw Bernikow with kouchigari for wazari (half point) and then followed with a pin for ippon. Advancing to the next round, Hata faced Aaron Kunihiro (CA). Here, Hata was losing by a yuko, but managed to come back from behind to throw him with kouchigari for ippon. In the finals, Hata faced Delpopolo again, where about one minute into the match, Hata caught him with a beautiful uchimata for ippon giving him his first Junior Olympic title.
Next up was 14-year-old Veronica Castillo in the Juvenile A 58kg (127 lb) division. Castillo faced a very aggressive Maya McNulty (NY). In her first match with McNulty, McNulty received penalties that put Castillo in the lead. She stayed strong and held on for the win. In her second meeting with McNulty, Castillo got caught for a yuko, and was not able to come back from behind, losing that match and setting up a third and decisive match. The final match was the most exciting, when Castillo threw McNulty with a beautiful taiotoshi (body drop) for ippon (full point) giving her her first Junior Olympic title.
Jessica Hsieh competed in the Juvenile B, 48 kg (106 lb) division. Hsieh, coming off a strong first place finish at the US Judo Federation Junior Nationals, first faced a very tough Christina Pro (PA). Both players, being very aggressive and persistent, could not score on each other. Thus, at the end of the 5-minute match, they entered into “Golden Score,” where the competitors fight in sudden death overtime until one scores first. The match continued for another 5 minutes with no score. At the conclusion of the 10-minute match, Hsieh was awarded a split decision by the referees. In second round action, Hsieh pinned Courtney Cacopardo (MD) with kesagatame (scarf lock) for ippon (full point). Next, Hsieh again faced Christina Pro. The match was close, but Hsieh got caught for a koka (minor point) and could not come back from behind, losing the match and setting up a decisive third match for the gold. This time Hsieh threw Pro for yuko (half point) with her favorite technique morote seoinage (shoulder throw), and held on for the win, turning in a very impressive performance.
Sixteen-year-old Marti Malloy, originally from Washington, competed in the Juvenile C-57 kg (125 lb) division. In her first match, she faced Brittany Caviness (IL) and applied an arm lock to submission for ippon. In her second match Malloy faced Stephanie Moyerman (PA), whom Malloy has fought many times. Malloy controlled the whole match until she caught Moyerman with a beautiful osotogari (major outside sweep) for ippon. In the semi-finals, Malloy faced Julia Van Helder (AZ). Again, Malloy controlled the match and caught van Helder with osotogari for ippon. In the finals, Malloy faced Moyerman yet again. Marti was dominating the match until Moyerman hurt her shoulder, forcing her to withdraw and giving Malloy the title. She hopes to take her winning momentum into the Junior World Championships, which will be held in Korea this September.
UC Davis Freshman, Stephanie Hata turned in another impressive performance getting first place in the Juvenile C, 48kg (106 lb) division. Here she faced a very determined Alexandra Causey (CA) who recently placed 3rd at the U.S. Senior Nationals. Hata and Causey have met numerous times in competition, most recently at the High School Nationals where Stephanie got the best of her. In their first match, Hata controlled Causey until she countered one of Causey’s attacks, receiving a koka (minor point). Stephanie managed to stay tough and held on for the win. In their second meeting, the match was even until Causey received a shido (penalty) for non-combativity. She again received another penalty (chui), putting Hata in the lead. Hata was again able to hold onto the win, giving Stephanie her 2nd consecutive Junior Olympic title in this division.
Nineteen-year-old Molly O’Rourke, current Collegiate National champion, took a silver medal in the Juvenile C 78+kg division. In her first match she faced Caterina Mathison (IA) and threw her with ouchigari (inner thigh reap) for ippon (full point). Her second match was against Nina Cutro Kelly (NY), who pinned O’Rourke for ippon (full point). O-Rourke next faced Stacey Weber (MI), throwing her with her favorite technique, osotogari, for full point. The win set up a rematch for the gold medal with Cutro-Kelly. O’Rourke attempted an attack, which Cutro-Kelly countered and then went into a pin for full point. Molly hopes to avenge her loss at the Junior US Open, which will be held this weekend in Boca Raton, Florida.
These 6 competitors all represent the East Bay Judo Institute, a non-profit judo organization located at 11165 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, CA. Their coach is David Matsumoto, team leader of the 1996 US Olympic Judo Team and former Director of Development for USA Judo. For more information, call (510) 237-0607.