Gateway Invitational 2011

The largest judo tournament in the state of Missouri since 1970, the 1st Annual Gateway Invitational got underway on November 5, 2011. The tournament took place at the Overland Community Center in Overland, Missouri. Over 125 competitors turned out at this tournament with the Gateway Grand Championship trophy at stake. White Dragon Judo Club was the host judo club for this tournament. The club received assistance from volunteers, parents, and sponsors to make this tournament possible. Tournament director, Tracy Hangley worked countless hours insuring that the tournament ran like a fine tuned machine.

Tara Kuhne, took over the reigns as junior head coach for this tournament. Ian Kuhne fought his way to a gold medal in a tough division. Anthony Darevsky took silver in his perspective division. Isabella Whitener fought her way to a silver medal finish. Issac Valdez-Soto displayed the persistent relentless attack style of his grandfather, Derick Wellman. This young superstar looks to have a bright future in the sport of judo. Valdez-Soto’s efforts landed him a bronze medal. After a brief hiatus, Julia Greene showed that her skills had not diminished. She reeled in a silver medal. Clarissa Whitener scored silver in her divisions while Mackenzie Beaird grabbed the bronze. Rebecca Mandernach and Mackenzie Grob fought in the largest and the most talented junior division in the tournament. Although they did not medal, they showed undaunting skill and promise. They will be the ones to watch in 2012. In the boy’s junior division Age 9-10, 69 to 80lbs, Devin Busch left his opponents stunned. Despite losing his first match, Devin was determined and willed his way to a playoff match, the only one in the tournament. Busch won by ippon and walked away with the gold.

The men’s division saw the debut of two standout judokas from Korea. CheolHong Choi and Tae Young Choi rolled over the competition with flawless technique. CheolHong Choi displayed a brawling yet deliberate style of judo. He took home gold. Tae Young Choi was the judo player who stood out amongst all the competitors in the tournament. His soft technical style earned him the best technician award. T.Choi took gold in his division and qualified for the Grand Championship, in which he took bronze. Para-Olympic hopeful Adnan Gutic won silver in his division. Larry Lewis also took home a silver for his division. Eugene Hamilton settled for a bronze.

Demonn Smith was on fire for this tournament, going 6-1 on the day. Tom Kuhne, coach of the men’s judo team, had Smith make some adjustments before the tournament. The adjustments and Smith’s savvy play helped him to two gold medals and silver in the Grand Championships.

In the women’s division, nationally ranked judoka, Anna Feygina added a silver and a bronze medal to her medal case. Tiffany Polk showed off her freakish athleticism on her way to a gold medal finish in her weight class and a silver medal in the Grand Championships.

The 1st Annual Gateway Judo Invitational received great reviews from its peers. Preparations for next year’s tournament are underway. Next year’s tournament will be bigger and better and White Dragon Judo Club hopes to see you there.

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