A new season is a chance for a fresh start.
At the St. Brieux judo tournament, the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club saw how far one athlete had come since the start of last year and saw a new face arrive on the scene.
Chad Griffin, 16 won the juvenile men's 44-55 kg class with an impressive performance in the first big provincial judo event of the season.
"His improvement over last year is just incredible," said Jim Wiens, an instructor with the Koseikan. "He fought in a big tournament in Winnipeg last weekend and he fought in his own division and also in the adult division and finished second in both.
"When he got back here he fought Warren Seib from Watrous who has basically been his nemesis for the last three or four years basically. (Saturday) he beat him twice and both times fairly soundly."
The Koseikan also saw Connor Ryan win the cadet boys under-48 kg. Ryan, 10, recently moved to the city from Newfoundland and has been with the club for three weeks.
"He kind of fell into our lap," said Wiens. "We don't want to take too much credit for his abilities, but he had a really good tournament as well. He went undefeated in his division and had very sound wins."
Eryn Langdon (cadet girls under-38 kg), Kolby Nant (cadet boys born 1998 and younger under-30 kg) both finished second. Nant (cadet boys 30-39 kg) was also third in another category. Sara Wiens (cadet girls born 1998 and younger under-23 kg), Logan Pockett (Cadet boys boys born 1998 and younger under-26 kg) and Adam Langdon (juvenile men 44-55 kg) were each fourth.
The turnout was down at this year's tournament.
"I was quite surprised, it was quite small this year actually," said Wiens whose club only brough seven athletes.
"That was one of the contributing factors probably was that we only brought that many athletes," said Wiens who noted that this early in the season their newer judoka aren't comfortable or ready for competition yet.
"We're just getting into it ourselves," he said. "We have a large group of beginners this year and so a lot of the classes have started back in the basics and I think a lot of people felt they weren't ready yet."
Typically the early competition in St. Brieux is a good early marker for where a competitor is this season, but Wiens felt that wasn't the case this time.
The club will now prepare for the Saskatchewan Open Judo Championships in Regina Jan. 19.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Dec. 11, 2007