Re-printed with the permission of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald
Guthrie a quick study on the mats
Times-Herald Sports Reporter
Any athlete taking up a new sport can expect a time of learning and adjustment, where they learn the rules of the game and simply how to be competitive.

For Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club competitor Dave Guthrie, that span of time has been amazingly short.

Guthrie, who joined the club during the fall session, reeled off seven straight victories in his first tournament two weeks ago in Swift Current -- including four in the ultra-competitive advanced division -- before picking up a pair of medals during the Sask Open tournament Saturday at SIAST.

Given the level of competition he's faced in those matches -- including fighters three and four belt classes higher than him -- it's easy to see how his start to the sport has been exceptionally impressive.

"He doesn't back down from blues or browns or anything, he does really well for someone who just started," Koseikan head instructor Cliff Wiens said during a break in the action Saturday. "It helps a lot he has that athletic background and it makes a difference. He has a competitive attitude, too, I think the hardest person on him is himself."

Guthrie's athletic background largely revolves around a stellar football career that saw him suit up at linebacker for the Saskatoon Hilltops and University of Saskatchewan Huskies. He won the Paul Kirk Memorial Trophy as the outstanding defensive player in the 1991 CJFL championship game won by the Toppers.

"I have a base strength from playing football and taking the legs is how I usually get people down and that's how that experience kind of works into judo," Guthrie said. "It feels pretty comfortable for me to attack the legs and that's worked well for me."

Such was the case during the Open, where he won the senior men novice under-90/under-100-kg division before taking third in the advanced under-100-kg class.

Guthrie suffered the first loss of his career in one of his first Open matches as he dropped a decision to Watrous' Les Jones. He rebounded in fine fashion, though, taking a victory over Jones in the tournament final.

"When you start off with a 7-0 record, that first loss is a hard one to take, but he did a good job shaking it off and coming right back and winning," Wiens said. "This tournament was a good experience for him, too. When you have some of the top fighters from Manitoba and Alberta you're going to see some excellent matches."

Guthrie credits his quick success in the sport to the quality of training he receives at the Koseikan dojo -- with the club's healthy contingent of high-level belts working with him on a regular basis, it's hard not to improve.

"Every day I'm fighting black belts and brown belts and guys who have been in judo for years, then you go to a tournament and it's easier than training at the club," he said. "If you practice with the best you're going to do well in tournaments."

Should Guthrie continue his meteoric progression in the sport, Wiens sees no reason why he could have a tremendous amount of success.

"He just has to give himself time now, sometimes there's a bit of a plateau to deal with as part of natural progression, but if he can get through that first plateau there will be no stopping him," he said.

For his part, Guthrie is happy just to have a chance to learn the sport and evolve as a competitor.

"I just joined judo to get back in shape, I'm not thinking of going to the Olympics or anything like that," he said. "I enjoy the competition, playing football and other sports, and it's not just about winning and losing for me. I just like to compete and try my best and see what I can do."

A total of 98 competitors from all parts of Canada took part in the event, with local fighters putting together a host of impressive performances.

Junior provincial team member Garth Rivers came up with one of the best on the weekend, defeating clubmate and fellow national-level competitor Jeremy Williams in the final of junior men under-56-kg division -- despite suffering a serious shoulder injury during the match.

Josh Wiens picked up silver in the over-100-kg class behind national team member Lloyd Bullerwell while Kailey Large finished second in the junior women's combined division just ahead of clubmate Stephanie Legault. Jim Wiens also picked up a silver medal behind former national team member Dean McGarry in the masters men over-90-kg class.

Koseikan's Derek Porter picked up on of the hardest-fought medals in the weekend, posting a 2-2 record to claim bronze in the Open weight class, including a win over the 300-pound plus Bullerwell in one of his early matches,

Former Koseikan competitor Brian Smith, now attending school at Grant MacEwan college in Edmonton and fighting for the Tolide judo club, won gold in the under-100-kg advanced division while Regina's Mark Pivovar took second in both the under-90 and Open divisions.

Medal winners from Saturday's Sask Open judo competition in Moose Jaw:

Juvenile Women

Juvenile Men Junior Women Junior Men Senior Women Senior Men Novice Senior Men Advanced Masters Women Masters Men (30-plus) Masters Men (40-plus) Open Weight Divison

Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Feb 24, 2003

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