If his progress in the sport in the first few months is any indication, Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club competitor Mac Senger could be one to watch in the future.
Especially when it comes to the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
Senger put together a 3-1 record on his way to a gold medal at the Swift Current Open this past weekend, a performance that came on the heels of failing to win a match at the Sask Open in Regina two weeks earlier.
"The improvement he's made in the last while has been pretty impressive," said Koseikan instructor Jim Wiens. "He showed a lot of good things out there and that's a sign that he's coming along really quickly."
Much like junior national medalists Jeremy Williams and Garth Rivers before him, Senger is at the lighter end of the weight scale in his Juvenile division, fighting in the 51 kg category. So taking to the mats against the likes of older and more experienced heavyweights such as Wiens, Dave Guthrie and Josh Wiens in training sessions is undoubtedly a rough experience.
"For him to get past that and realize that judo is a sport of weight divisions and strategy against people your own size is pretty big," Wiens said. "He didn't know that going into Regina, so he got to take that confidence into Swift Current and put it to good use."
Senger's quick progression will undoubtedly need to continue should he have a shot at reaching his goal of competing for Team Sask for the 2007 Games.
In order to make that jump, Senger will need to be at least blue belt or higher. As a just-turned yellow belt, his progression through the martial arts aspect of the sport will have to be amazingly quick.
"To be young and go through his belts that fast is going to be a lot of work, but he proved that he'll be able to do it if he really wants to," Wiens said. "If he continues having performances like that and keeps working hard in the club he should have no trouble getting there."
The club also had a strong showing from Brianna Walz, who took gold in the Cadet Girls Under-23 kg division with three straight victories. In doing so she had to get past clubmate Taryn Montgomery, who finished fourth in the same division but in the past has enjoyed her share of medal success.
With four girls close to the same weight and age bracket - Samantha Trusty and Carlie Orr both fought in the under-26 kg division - they find themselves in the exact opposite situation compared to Senger when it comes to training.
"They're all so evenly matched and it actually plays to their advantage in that they do get to fight people their own size in the club," Wiens explained. "They play off each other so well that you know one of them is going to shine in the tournament but you never know which one it's going to be. It was just Brianna's turn this time."
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Feb. 19, 2005