Some of Moose Jaw's best judo competitors have seen stronger and older competition in recent weeks.
The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club's Haley Walz and Rebecca Hanson are both 14 years old, but they each competed in the under-17 category at the O'Sullivan Cup competition in Prince Albert last weekend. Walz even pulled double-duty in the under-20 class.
"Because we have less competitors in Saskatchewan, some of our stronger athletes will (move up an age group) to try to get more fights," said Koseikan coach Dan Orescanin. "If you're travelling four hours to P.A. you'd like to get as many fights as you can."
Walz won a pair of bronze medals in the -60 kg class and Hanson won a silver in the -52 kg class.
"They're pretty dominant in Saskatchewan for their age level," said Orescanin. "We'd prefer that they compete in higher age levels rather than higher weigher categories.
"They're definitely giving up strength, but I encourage that because it really forces them to use good technique."
Tallissa Edwards won the under-15 -46 kg class in Prince Albert. Stephen Edwards won a silver medal in the under-13 -46 kg class. Adam Langdon was second in the under-17 -60 kg class. Eryn Langdon was third and Brianna Walz fifth in the under-15, +34 kg category. Brock Pearson was fifth in the -60 kg class for under-17s.
Five locals also recently competed with the provincial team to the University of Manitoba Open.
Hanson and Haley Walz each won gold medals, while Eryn Langdon was third and Pearson finished just out of the medals in fourth place. Adam Langdon also competed.
"Brock won two and lost two and Adam Langdon also went up - he didn't win, but had a good tournament," said Orescanin. "They were in really competitive divisions. "All of those kids did really well."
That strong showing in Winnipeg will hopefully help them reach their goal of attending the junior nationals this season.
"They had good seasons last year as well and that's just continuing," said Orescanin. "They're getting to the age now where . . . if they keep this up they will be looking at the senior national championships in a couple of years. They have a lot of opportunities with judo right now."
Hanson and Haley Walz both went to junior nationals last year. Orescanin is excited for Pearson and Adam Langdon to both have the chance to compete at junior nationals this coming year as well. He felt that Pearson deserved a chance to go last year and is pleased to see him competing hard this year.
"I felt that last year for Brock - it was just one of those things where he didn't get selected - but we were really thinking that he should have," said Orescanin. "So this year he has a little bit to prove I guess. This year he's set out to really show them he should have been on that team and he's been doing really well.
"He wants to show them that he deserves it this year and not leave any doubt in their minds."
The next event for the club is the Zone 3 playdowns in January.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald December 19, 2009