A few expected victories, a few surprises and an overwhelming success.
The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club hosted their annual tournament this weekend at the Heritage Inn and much as expected dominated the medal count, hauling in a total of 42 medals including 16 gold.
“That’s not bad, a lot of our people fought really well,” said Koseikan sensei Cliff Wiens. “There were a few who had breakthroughs this weekend, defeating opponents they had never beaten before. That’s great to see whenever it happens.”
One of those heading that list was Juvenile Boys competitor Garth Rivers, who went 3-0 in the under-40 kilogram division on his way to winning gold. He took his first-ever victory over Regina’s Scott Renouf along the way.
“That was a big win for Garth,” Wiens said. “He’d never beat him before and to come through like that and win the division was a pretty important step.”
Stephanie Legault also came through with a first-ever victory, defeating clubmate Kailey Large in the Junior Women Open Division. She finished the tournament with a 4-7 record and four medals.
Large recovered nicely, though, going 11-2 overall and winning all four divisions she competed in.
One of the highlights was in the Senior Men’s Open category as Koseikan’s Mark Pivovar took on fellow black belt James Lamontagne of Swift Current.
The two national-level competitors staged a pair of high-paced battles, both going the distance and won on points by Pivovar.
“They’re both so fast and skilled, any time you get two guys like that fighting it’s great to watch,” Wiens said.
Pivovar went undefeated through the tournament with a 12-0 record and dominated most of his matches, sweeping to five gold.
On the whole, Wiens was most impressed with the performance of the club’s younger fighters who continue to show improvement both in talent and medal performance.
“I’m really happy with the young kids, they’re learning and they’re improving all the time,” he said.
Wiens pointed out Jessie Barnes, a gold medalist in the under-26 kilogram division in only his second tournament and first-time competitor Devin Crabbe, a bronze medalist in the same division, as two prime examples.
“That’s something we’re really fortunate to have right now, a lot of good young kids who’ll be very, very strong fighters in the future,” he said.
The tournament was the first staged by the local club at the Heritage Inn and according to Wiens the choice of venue drew raves reviews from competitors and fans.
“Jamie (Lamontagne) came up to me afterwards and said when you’re in a hotel and just have to come downstairs to enter the tournament you sure feel like a privileged fighter,” Wiens said. “This is a guy who’s very well traveled and has been to a lot of tournaments so that’s a great compliment.”
The club hopes to be able to hold the tournament at the Heritage Inn again next year but will have to wait until the Judo Saskatchewan annual general meeting to book the weekend of the competition.
Off the mats . . . a total of 100 judoka from throughout the province competed . . . Kirby Duzan of Merrill-Lynch sponsored the tournament and donated all medals for the event. The medals were custom designed by Duzan and Koseikan instructor Vern MacDonald.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Feb. 21, 2000