With many of their older and most decorated competitors beginning to move on to other pursuits, the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club has started to look to some of their younger competitors for success.
And if their performance at a provincial tournament in Watrous was any indication, things are definitely looking bright.
With a team mostly comprised of young up-and-coming white and yellow belts, the club still managed to bring home 17 medals while winning 28 of 57 matches.
"I thought we did really well, there were a few nice surprises from the beginners, a few of them exceded what we expected them to do," said club instructor Jim Wiens. "There were also a few who got a wake-up call that showed them they're going to have to work in the club to be able to compete. The people in other clubs take the sport very seriously and they're going to have to too if they're going to compete on the provincial stage."
Two of the club's best performances came out of the same division, as Kanon Marasse and Josh Horsnall put together an impressive run through the Cadet Boys under-43 kg class on their way to a one-two finish. Marasse defeated Horsnall 2-1 in the best-of-three final and took gold with a 5-1 record while Horsnall finished 3-2.
Not a bad showing at all for two white belt beginners battling more experienced opposition much of the day.
"They pretty much walked through everyone else to get to the final, " Wiens said. "That was definitely nice, to have that many kids in a division and having them finish first and second. And even then, Josh didn't lie down for him, he ended up winning one of the two fights so that shows how closely matched they were."
Youngsters also winning gold were Samantha Trusty (Cadet girls under-26 kg), Chad Griffin (Cadet boys advanced under-30 kg) and Haley Walz (Cadet girls under-34 kg).
Two of the club's veteran competitors also had strong showings, as Dave Guthrie went undefeated in winning the Senior under-90 kg class while Josh Wiens won both his matches in the Senior over-100 kg class.
"They both did well, they walked through it without too much trouble at all," Wiens said. "Both Dave and Josh are trying to set themselves up for nationals and for the two of them to go undefeated through their division shows they're on the right road to doing that."
Koseikan will look for more of the same against what promises to be a higher level of competition at the Sask Open in Regina Jan. 22.
"It's a new year for us, there are a lot of beginners, so it's nice to see that they're going to step up and keep on the winning track that we're used to," Wiens said.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Dec. 18, 2004