With their current crop of junior competitors well established on the provincial and national scenes, the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club is keeping an eye out for promising up and comers to fill their roles when they move on.
Given his performance at the Rocky Mountain Invitational Judo tournament in Calgary recently, Connor MacDonald could be one ready to make that jump.
MacDonald, 12, won all three of his matches in the junior boys under-42 kilogram division in commanding fashion, taking first place in the category and also winning the Eiki Kawano Award as the best competitor in the junior age class.
No small feat at all, considering the calibre of competition at the event.
"There were a lot of good fighters in each division but Connor didn't have any trouble at all with anyone in his," said Koseikan head instructor Cliff Wiens. "He put on a pretty good show, his skills were so far above that whole class. Most of the guys he fought didn't even come close, it was like a walk in the park for him. He didn't resort to just beating them up, either. He used good, sound techniques and did a lot of good things to win his matches."
MacDonald -- the son of former Koseikan instructor Vern MacDonald -- attracted plenty of attention in winning the award, as the honour was selected by such luminaries as Canadian Olympian Mark Berger and international competitor Colin Morgan.
"He impressed a lot of people, when you have guys like that noticing what you're doing that's a pretty good compliment," Wiens said.
"The way he fought shows, too, that we have a good junior program in the club, we have the Garths and Jeremys and Kaileys and Stephanies, but we also have some kids coming up behind them that are going to fit right in. And that's exactly what we want to have happen."
The aforementioned foursome also competed in Calgary and are currently preparing for junior nationals in their respective divisions.
Garth Rivers, reigning national bronze medalist in his age and weight category, put together one of the best performances of the national junior contingent, going 3-2 in his under-55 kg division and taking the silver medal.
"The guy who ended up winning it beat him soundly in Vancouver (at the Pacific International) but Garth went the distance with him in Calgary and it could have gone either way, too," Wiens said. "So he's getting closer, and he's working out exceptionally hard. He can taste it, he's so close, and he really wants it."
The reigning silver medalist in the same division, Jeremy Williams, went 1-2 in the class and settled for fifth place.
"Jeremy had a little tough luck, he got beat by the guy who won it and then he got caught in a stupid choke, and that was it," Wiens said. "That's how it goes in judo sometimes, just a little thing like that can tell the tale.
But the two matches he did win, he did pretty well in and that shows he's fighting well, too."
Stephanie Legault won her lone match in the junior women under-63 kg division to take gold, while Kailey Large went 1-2 in the under-55 kg class to take bronze.
In the juvenile boys age division, Levi Cordick had a 1-2 record in under-51 kg and settled for fourth. Leigh White dropped his first two matches in the under-66 kg division to finish out of the medals, while in the under-38 kg junior boys division, Steven Trudel also dropped both his matches.
Senior men's competitor and provincial team member Jim Wiens won an uncontested gold in the over-100 kg division before losing two straight in the men's open class.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald May 8, 2003