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Apr 12 JUDO: Lafon and Kossor Produce Upsets, Win First Senior National Titles

April 12, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Immediate Release April 12, 2008 Contact: Nicole Jomantas, 719.271.9937 (cell) Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us (Virginia Beach, Va.)-Natalie Lafon and Nick Kossor, both of the USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center in Glenville, N.Y., had each been to the finals of the USA Judo Senior Championships, but it wasn't until Saturday that they had the chance to stand on the top of the podium after upsetting the top seeds. Lafon earned the day's first upset when she defeated seven-time 48kg National Champion Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) in the final. Although Lafon is new to the division after moving down from 52kg last August, she's adapted quickly to the speed of lighter players and showed no signs of intimidation in her match against Matsumoto who has been challenged by very few U.S. players since 2000. Matsumoto opened the match by throwing Lafon for a koka (smallest points), but Lafon kept attacking and threw Matsumoto twice for yuko (quarter-point) and waza-ari (half-point) scores. Matsumoto came back with koka and yuko scores off a throw and two penalties by Lafon, but Lafon held on to the end to earn her first gold medal at the Nationals as well as at least a #3 seed at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Judo, June 13-14 in Las Vegas. While Lafon scored early in her match, Kossor was down by koka and yuko scores in his 60kg final against Taraje Williams-Murray (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE), a four-time National Champion and 2004 Olympian."I wasn't even thinking about being down. The only thing I was thinking of during the whole match is what my coaches kept telling me-that I'm going in with nothing to lose and I should just have fun out there,"Kossor said."I just wanted to relax, have fun and take my shots."With nine seconds left on the clock, Kossor countered Williams-Murray with a throw for ippon (instant win) to end the match and win the gold."It feels awesome. I guess it's still surreal, but all of the hard work is paying off,"said Kossor who has the #2 seed going into the Trials."It's definitely a huge confidence boost. We've only fought twice and he beat me at the Nationals last time. I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing up until now because obviously it's been working."Fighting down from her #1 ranking as a 63kg player to the 57kg division where she won silver medals in 2005 and 2006, Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) threw top-ranked junior Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) in the opening minute of the match. The win marked Malloy's second National title after winning 63kg gold in 2007. Also shifting weight divisions was Ann Shiraishi (Elk Grove, Calif. / East Bay Judo Institute). Shiraishi, the #4-ranked player in the 48kg division, fought up to 52kg where she controlled her match early against Tracy Nagai (Bellevue, Wash. / Budokan Judo) and threw Nagai repeatedly to win the match by several scores and two penalties. In a rematch of their 2006 U.S. Open final, Bobby Lee (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE) threw two-time Pan American Champion Chuck Jefferson (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) in the first minute of their 73kg match to win his first National title by ippon. Nate Torra (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) won his first Senior National title in the 66kg division after medaling five times. Torra was tied with a shido each against Kenny Hashimoto (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) when he threw Hashimoto late in the match. The USA Judo Senior National Championships was the final opportunity for athletes to qualify for the Trials. Athletes ranked in the top eight on the USA Judo Senior Elite National Roster in Olympic weight divisions will be invited to compete in the Trials. Complete results are as follows: Women's 44kg 1. Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) 2. Veronica Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) Women 48kg 1. Natalie Lafon (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 2. Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) 3. Angela Creutzberger (Ballston, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 3. Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I. / Mayo Quanchi Judo) 5. Kayla Hall (Granite City, Ill. / USA Stars) 5. Diana Yoshida (Dallas, Texas / Dallas Judo) Women's 52kg 1. Ann Shirasihi (Elk Grove, Calif. / East Bay Judo Institute) 2. Tracy Nagai (Bellevue, Wash. / Budokan Judo) 3. Christina Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) 3. Melinda Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) 5. Tara Clark (Livermore, Calif. / Amador Judo) 5. Nicki Schultheis (Glenville, Ill. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) Women's 57kg 1. Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) 2. Angelica Delgado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) 3. Anna Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 3. Hana Carmichael (Wellington, Fla. / Budokan Judo) 5. Heidy Arias (Hialeah, Fla. / Budokan Judo) 5. Michelle Hagerty (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) Women's Open 1. Zarife Ivascu (Chicago, Ill. / Tohkon) 2. Ashlie Martini (Chicago, Ill. / Tohkon / Victorious Judo) 3. Melinda Swanson (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) 3. Natalie Laurson (Livermore, Calif. / Amador Judo) 5. Suzi Rizek (Chicago, Ill, / Fox Valley Judo , Jujitsu) 5. Andi Bongert (Dubuque, Iowa / Sioux City Judo) Men's 55kg 1. Hiram Cruz (Jacksonville, Fla. / Jacksonville Ryu Judo) 2. Steve Perez (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) 3. Corwin Learned (El Granada, Calif. / Cahill's Judo) 3. Alex Shustorovich (Marlboro, N.J. / Camal Judo) 5. Keith Beauvais (Thornton, Colo. / Northglenn Judo) 5. Matt Dong (San Jose, Calif. / San Jose Buddhist Judo Club Men's 60kg 1. Nick Kossor (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 2. Taraje Williams-Murray (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) 3. Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE) 3. Jeff Sato (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 5. Jeff Fujimoto (Los Angeles, Calif. / Sawtelle Judo) 5. Daniel Gomez (College Station, Texas / Texas A,M Judo) Men's 66kg 1. Nate Torra (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) 2. Kenny Hashimoto (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) 3. Jeremy Liggett (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 3. Josh O'Neil (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 5. Joseph Hashimoto (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) 5. Daniel Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) Men's 73kg 1. Bobby Lee (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE) 2. Chuck Jefferson (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) 3. Michael Eldred (Fruitland, Idaho / Western Idaho Judo Institute 3. RJ Cohen (Buffalo Grove, Ill. / Cohen's Judo) 5. Nick Delpopolo (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 5. Justin Flores (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) Men's Open 1. Kyle Vashkulat (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 2. Majemite Omagbaluwage (Chicago, Ill. / Tohkon Judo) 3. David Bleeker (Pekin, Ill. / Canton Judo Club) 3. Anthony Noli (Tucson, Ariz. / Tucson Dojo) 5. Robert Turnquest (Honolulu, Hawaii / Kamehameha Judo Club) 5. Vugar Gasimov (Clemson, S.C. / Charlottesville Judo Academy) For more information, contact Nicole Jomantas, USA Judo Director of Communications and Media Relations, at 719.271.9937 (cell) or Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us. -END-
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