January 26, 2013 – On a crisp, snow-covered day, the Maryland State Championships were held at Ritchie Coliseum on the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland. This venue provided an outstanding site for a judo tournament, with plenty of parking and upper balcony seating which allowed great views of all four competition areas. The event was not restricted to Maryland residents, and saw 160 competitors from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and even Mississippi fighting for the honor of being Maryland state champion.
Roy Englert, International A Level, was the head referee, with a total of 21 referees from across the region including Sensei John Anderson. Also present were Senseis James Takemori and Dick Hugh, working as Jury on the mats.
The competition started off with Novice and Advanced Nage-No-Kata, and was followed by shiai.
The day’s competition was notable for the intensity and the many ippon (winning full point) throws throughout the range of Masters, Junior, and Senior divisions, indicating a high level of skill and technique. Grace Oswald of Budokan had 6 ippons on her way to winning 3 divisions. Sarah Thacker of Southern Maryland Judo/Juijitsu had 4 ippons on her way to 2 division championships. Nathan Thacker of Southern Maryland Judo/Juijitsu went undefeated in 2 divisions with 4 ippons. Gabriel Evans came all the way from Mississippi to represent Gulf Coast Judo. He went undefeated and racked up 7 ippons on route to 2 championships. The outstanding junior competitor was Alex Tamai, from College Park, who went undefeated on the day with 9 ippons and 2 division championships.
Junior Judo Teams from Aldan Judo, Arlington Judo, Budokan, BJJ Judo, Charlottesville Judo, College Park Judo, Dale City Judo, Gulf Coast Judo, Huio-Judo, Maryland Judo Team, NIH, Pure Performance, Rankin Dragons, and Seigenury completed for the chance to be Maryland State Champions. The junior team trophy was won by the College Park Judo Club, with Southern Maryland Judo/Jujitsu placing second. The top team finishes included Charlottesville Judo (5th), Sport Judo (4th), and Maryland Judo Team (3rd).
The senior competition was also exciting with teams from Aldan Judo, Arlington Judo, Budokan, BJJ Judo, Charlottesville Judo, College Park Judo, Dale City Judo, DC Judo, Huio-Judo, JD Judo, NIH, Pure Performance, VA Medical Judo, and the Washington Judo Club completing for the chance to be Maryland State Champions. Impressive improvements to the Navy Judo team put out strong showings against the consistently strong Washington Judo and Sport Judo teams. Programs from DC Judo, Pure Performance, and Huio Judo teams also had strong showings. The senior team championship was won by College Park by a single point over the second place team, the US Naval Academy. College Park won four divisions with Navy winning 3 divisions. Additional place winners brought the points race to a 27 to 26 win for College Park. Senior top teams also included Budokan (5th), Washington Judo (4th), and Sport Judo (3rd).
Several competitors swept their divisions with all ippon wins. Mike Brown of College Park Judo, Albert McFadden of DC Judo, Jeff Dickman of JD Judo, Walter Saunders of Washington Judo, Clarise Palmer of Pure Performance, Leah Fisher of DC Judo, Chris Grunberg of College Park, Eris Mejia of Dale City Judo, Wayne Worthington of Navy, and Misha Grunberg of College Park Judo all swept their divisions with ippons. Mike Brown and Jeff Dickman both won 2 divisions each but the outstanding senior award was won by Chima Uwazi of the Naval Academy.
Bobby Donaldson, president of Maryland Judo, presented each medal and trophy to the winners. He was also enthusiastic about the day’s results: “It is always fun to watch the first tournament of the season. You can really set the tone for the year and gauging by the level of competition, especially in the Junior Divisions, 2013 will be a great year for Maryland Judo”.
Kurt and Karl Tamai, the tournament directors, led the team of volunteers who staffed the tournament, working for the entire day to ensure a smoothly running event. The Tamais emphasized that without those volunteers, the tournament would simply not have happened. Registration, pairings, announcers, medical support, table officials, food support for officials, referees, set-up and tear-down, and the myriad other tasks in planning and conducting the state championships were all dependent upon the work of those volunteers. The Riverdale Fire Department supplied the medical support.
Kevin Tamai, head Sensei of Hui-o Judo Club, who assisted in the tournament operations, also commented, “We would like to thank all of competitors, their parents, support staff and all of those who travel to support our tournaments. We appreciate all of the generous contributions of time made by all of our volunteers, especially the referees and technical officials. We are able to host great events because of the sense of family and community that we have in judo in the DC area. We all support each other and do our best to make certain each event is successful. We hope that the judoka who attended will tell their other club members to plan to attend next January.”
Photo Gallery A Wait! There’s more… Photo gallery B