Haley Walz has her first trip to a national judo competition under her belt and is still enjoying the experience.
Walz, Rebecca Hanson and Chad Griffin from the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club attended the U15, U17 & U20 Canadian Judo Championships in Calgary this past weekend and remain in the city for a week of training with national team coaches.
"So far it's been tons of fun," said Walz from Calgary.
"The competition was really good. It was hard and it's a lot different from most tournaments because it's such a big tournament."
Walz finished fifth in the under-15 girls female 63 kg. class.
"I thought I did pretty well for my first time," said Walz. "In some of my fights I wish I had done a bit better and fought a little harder."
Walz lost her first match by a second waza-ari - two of which count for a full point, ending the match - 2:21 into the contest against Ontario's Amanda Felker. She was happy that she was able to go deep into the fight against the eventual silver medalist.
She rebounded with a win over Danika Valada of Quebec by an ippon 59 seconds in.
She lost her final bout to Kristal Lukas of B.C. Lukas won on a tiebreaking yuko after three minutes.
"In the first one I lasted awhile," said Walz. "In the second one, I threw her and won. The third one was a really close match.
"I think to compete better (against national competition) I need to have better concentration so I can do better."
Hanson lost to silver medalist Josianne Gagne by ippon 1:55 into her first bout in the under-15 female 44 kg class. She then lost a decision to Lavanna Laass of B.C. after six minutes that included extra time to try to break the tie.
Hanson finished ninth overall after two good bouts.
Griffin opened action in the under-20 male under-55 kg class with a strong bout against bronze medalist Mehdi Zeghir from Quebec, who won via a second waza-ari 3:38 in. In his second match Griffin lost by via ippon to Patrick Desparois of Quebec. He finished ninth overall.
All three competitors will now take part in team training. After the first day Walz was already taking a lot from the experience.
"It was a lot fun. We did lots of randori, which is fighting. So it was kind of like tournament stuff but just did stand up and no ground work," said Walz. "I learned new stuff just in the first few minutes that we started."
The group trained for 90 minutes twice Monday and will continue through to Thursday.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald July 7, 2009