Almost every aspect of the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club's annual invitational tournament this past weekend could be described in superlatives -- the greatest number of fighters, the best overall financial result and most importantly, some of the best competition ever to take place at the event.
"Aw, man, there were some exciting matches this year," lauded Koseikan head instructor Cliff Wiens. "They put on a good show, especially in some of the older classes. Some of the matches were pretty close to the calibre you'd see at a Canadian championship, they were really going out there."
Observers were able to take in a wide varierty of techniques and styles as the combatants worked their way through the senior and open classes. One of the top matches of the weekend featured Swift Current national contender James Lamontagne against Prince Albert's Cody Wozniak -- a match that nearly went the distance and ended with Wozniak earning the victory with a spectacular throw.
Lamontagne also figured into one of the most impressive victories in the tournament, as he defeated 360-pound national junior competitor Lloyd Bullerwell -- despite weighing only 156 pounds himself -- in the final of the senior men's open.
"There were a lot of great fights like that, it was a great display of judo," Wiens said.
Local competitors also found themselves enjoying a strong weekend, with cadet boys rookie Zach Robinson putting together an impressive comeback performance. After going 0-5 at a tournament in Swift Current recently, Robinson responded with a 4-1 record at his home event to take first place in the under-23 kg division.
"He didn't take that losing thing very well at all," Wiens said with a chuckle. "He really turned it around and showed what he could do, even though he's really young."
Connor MacDonald took first place in a deep cadet boys under-34 kg division, while Moose Jaw swept the medals in the over-46 kg division as Freddy Myers, Leigh White and Michael Herbert finished one-two-three.
"Overall we did really well, even if we didn't win quite as many medals as we did in Swift Current," Wiens said. "The competition was a lot stronger at our tournament and most of the kids who won medals really had to fight well to earn them."
In total, the Invitational featured 201 entries from 102 competitors, the largest turn-out ever and a financial boon for the club. Once everything is totaled, Wiens expects the Koseikan will clear around $1,000.
"That's not bad at all, considering for the first few years it would cost us money to put on this tournament," he said. "It really helps the club and we're looking forward to seeing how we can improve things for next year."
Extra throws . . . Wiens thanked Kirby Duzan for his continued sponsorship of the tournament medals -- the unique design from year to year makes them a valued keepsake for those successful enough to earn one . . .
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Feb 23, 2002