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Oct 20 Reser, Rodriguez, Gotay and Swanson Win U.S. Open

Oct. 20, 2007, midnight (ET)

(Duluth, Ga.) - It was a case of podium déjà vu for three Americans on Saturday as they each made return trips to the top step of the podium at the U.S. Open, a USA Judo Senior B-Level point tournament that serves as one of the largest qualifiers for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Judo.  

Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs , Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) and Chuck Jefferson (San Jose , Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) had one of the best-matched battles of the evening.  

Both 73kg players were scoreless until Jefferson was given a penalty for non-combattivity with 13 seconds left in the match.   

What at one point looked like a match headed to Golden Score suddenly had a momentum shift as Jefferson had only one or two attempts left at an attack before the clock ran out.  Determined to win, Jefferson went in for a throw, but Reser double-legged him for a win by ippon (instant win) with eight seconds in the match.    

"There was no way I was going to let that go to Golden Score," Reser laughed after the match.  

The win was redemption for the previous year when Jefferson ousted Reser during the preliminary rounds of the 2006 U.S. Open and it was the second consecutive silver medal at the event for Jefferson.   

"You know it's always going to be a tough match with Chuck.  He's explosive, powerful and I've learned before that you can't ever quit even at the end," said Reser, the current Pan Am Games Champion.   

Just like in 2006, 17-year-old Jeanette Rodriguez (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami / 48kg) was the youngest gold medalist in an Olympic division.  Unlike last year, however, Rodriguez came in as the top seed and defending Champion, considered nearly a favorite to repeat her win from 2006.    

Rodriguez won her first two matches by ippon to advance to the gold medal match against Annie Shiraishi (Elk Grove, Calif. / East Bay Judo Institute) who upset 2006 Paris Super World Cup medalist Isabelle Latulippe (CAN) in the semifinals.   

Shiraishi earned two penalties during the match, but Rodriguez secured the lead when she threw Shiraishi twice - first with an o soto gari (outer leg throw) for a waza-ari (half-point) with two minutes remaining and later with a double-leg for a koka (smallest points) score.  

Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen) won her third consecutive 57kg gold, but the win came in anticlimactic fashion when she came out to the mat for her match against 2000 Olympic medalist Maria Pekli (AUS) only to be named the automatic winner after Pekli withdrew from the match.

Melinda Swanson (Honolulu , Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) won the fourth gold for the Americans, throwing 16-year-old Emily Lilly (Camarillo , Calif. / Sawtelle) for ippon in the first minute of their Open division gold medal match.  

Anna Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) advanced to her first U.S. Open final in the 52kg division, beating Renee Guggino (CAN) and Lolita Dagher (CAN), both by ippon.  

Palmer lacked the same attacking spark in her final against Laurie Wiltshire (CAN), failing to produce successful attacks and getting thrown for a yuko score mid-way through the match.  

The win, however, not only marks Palmer's first U.S. Open medal, but is expected to move the 21-year-old into the #1 position on the Senior Elite National Roster.  

Palmer's OTC teammate Taylor Takata (66kg) also used his silver medal win to move himself into the #1 position on the roster after losing in the finals to Sasha Mehmedovic (CAN).  

Takata, who won his first three matches after a first-round bye, last fought Mehmedovic at the 2006 Pan Ams when he lost in a nine-minute golden score bout.  This time, Takata found himself down by two penalties when the Canadian threw him with a sode (sleeve throw) for ippon in the final minute.  

After winning the +100kg division yesterday, Yasutaka Ohkawa (JPN) returned on Saturday to win the Open division by a penalty in overtime against Nicolas Bernard (FRA).   

Sergio Pessoa, one of Canada 's top lightweights, won the 60kg division, throwing his teammate Serge Zamotine for ippon in the first minute of the gold medal final.  The division was the only one of the day without an American on the podium after top-ranked Taraje Williams-Murray (Bronx, N.Y. / NYAC / Spartak Sports Club) withdrew prior to his bronze medal match with Pan Am Champion Fraser Will (CAN).  

Competition continues on Sunday with Master's (over 30) and kata (forms) divisions  

Complete results are as follows:

Women's 48kg
1. Jeanette Rodriguez (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami)
2. Ann Shiraishi (Elk Grove, Calif. / East Bay Judo Institute)
3. Isabelle Latulippe (CAN)
3. Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute)
5. Bianca Ockedahl (CAN)
5. Natalie Lafon (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen)

Women's 52kg
1. Laurie Wiltshire (CAN)
2. Anna Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center)
3. Nicki Schultheis (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
3. Tracy Nagai (Bellevue, Wash. / Budokan Judo)
5. Lolita Dagher (CAN)
5. Renee Guggino (CAN) 

Women's 57kg
1. Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen)
2. Maria Pekli (AUS)
3. Carrie Chandler (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
3. Jolianne Melancon (CAN)
5. Michelle Hagerty (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center)
5. Jennifer Landry (CAN)  

Women's Open
1. Melinda Swanson (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri)
2. Emily Lilly (Camarillo, Calif. / Sawtelle)
3. Ashlie Martini (Chicago, Ill. / Tohkon Judo)
3. Andie Bongert (Dubuque , Iowa / Sioux City Judo Club)
5. Rhonda Morrell-Pruitt (Centerville, Ohio)
5. Julie Longou (FRA) 

Men's 60kg
1. Sergio Pessoa (CAN)
2. Serge Zamotine (CAN)
3. Frazer Will (CAN)
3. Gonzalo Ibanez (CAN)
5. Taraje Williams-Murray (Bronx, N.Y. / NYAC / Spartak Sports Club)
5. Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE)

Men's 66kg
1. Sasha Mehmedovic (CAN)
2. Taylor Takata (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center)
3. Jeremy Liggett (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
3. Nate Torra (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute)
5. Michal Popiel (CAN)
5. Daniel Santos (BRA) 

Men's 73kg
1. Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center)
2. Chuck Jefferson (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University)
3. Radu Brestyan (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE)
3. Michael Eldred (Fruitland, Idaho / Western Idaho Judo Institute)
5. Nick Delpopolo (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
5. Bobby Lee (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami)  

Men's Open
1. Yasutaka Ohkawa (JPN)
2. Nicolas Bernard (FRA)
3. Adler Volmar (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami)
3. Daniel McCormick (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE)
5. John Fiege (NED)
5. Andrew Pragnell (NZL)

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