The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club picked up a good deal of hardware from their recent tournament in Swift Current.
In total, the club brought home eight gold medals, five silvers and eight bronzes. Of the 27 athletes who attended, all but six came home with something shiny, and even those who didn't finished close.
"The competition that was there was probably the best that there is in the province," said club coach Jim Wiens. "Our biggest improvement are all the little guys. For a lot of them, it was probably their first or second tournament that they've competed in, and they all did so well."
The club hosted a prominent visitor on Tuesday, as provincial coach and two-time Olympic competitor Ewan Beaton dropped in to observe.
Beaton was previously Judo Saskatchewan's coach from 1997 to 2000 before moving to the national level. He returned this year and, in keeping with his position, is checking out the sport at the grassroots level at clubs around the province.
"Part of my job is to come and do reviews on every club in Saskatchewan and get some ideas on how to improve, and reinforce what we're already doing well," he said, noting that he liked what he saw in Moose Jaw, which has one of the strongest clubs in the province.
"They're all having fun and getting some fitness, and learning our sport, which is great."
Four Moose Javians will be part of the Saskatchewan team that travels to Winnipeg this weekend for the Inner City Open competition. Haley and Brianna Walz, Rebecca Hanson and Adam Langdon will join Beaton and 15 other Saskatchewan athletes at the tournament.
"It's my first year back in Saskatchewan, so I'm still learning and meeting the athletes," said Beaton. "It will be my first time travelling with them officially."
Athletes had to apply to join the team, and all four Moose Jaw applicants were accepted.
"I think those four are going to do really well," said Wiens. "They're four people that have a lot of ambition and want to do well and move up from the provincial stage to the national stage. There is going to be good competition there for them and I'm definitely not guaranteeing that they're all going to come home with gold medals, but they're not going to go and have two-second matches."
Beaton agreed with that assessment.
"The four that are going, they have potential," he said. "I think we match up well with the group from Manitoba. It's developmental on both ends."
But he's not necessarily focused on hauling home the hardware, instead emphasizing the importance of the experience.
"At this age... as long as they're doing the right things now, they're dedicated, they're training hard and concentrating on their fitness, then really what I care about is what they're going to do three, four, five years from now," said the coach. "It's the base that's being laid."
Koseikan results from Swift Current
Cub Boys 1999+ u-23 kg 3. Adam Blatchford, 3. Justin Wiens. Cub Boys 1999+ u-26 kg 1. Kohl Henrickson, 2. Joey Caragata, 4. Damien Wiens. Cub Boys 1999+ u-30 kg 3. Ryan Pohl. Cub Boys 1999+ u-33 kg 1. Zachary Ryan, 4. Matthew Blatchford. Cub Girls 1999+ u-23/26 kg 2. Kim Daly, 3. Sara Wiens. Cub Boys 1996-98 u-38 kg 1. Dez Henrickson. Cub Boys 1996-98 u-42 kg 3. Brolyn Kemp, 4. Bailey Hodgson. Cub Boys 1996-98 u-54 kg 1. Connor Ryan. Cub Girls 1996-98 u-30/34 kg 1. Taryn Montgomery. Cub Girls 1996-98 u-38/43 kg 1. Eryn Langdon, 3. Brianna Walz, 4. Jessica Daly. Juvenile Women u-40/44 1. Rebecca Hanson, 3. Eryn Langdon, 4. Jessica Daly. Juvenile Men u-55/60 1. Brock Pearson, 2. Adam Langdon. Cadet/Juvenile Girls u-57/63 2. Haley Walz, 5. Baylee Forbes. Canada Games Girls 2. Haley Walz, 3. Rebecca Hanson.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald February 11, 2009