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Jun 12 National President's Cup Championships Preview

June 12, 2009, 12:10 p.m. (ET)

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - World, Olympic and Pan Am Team members will be among the players taking the mat on Saturday and Sunday at the National President's Cup Championships Duluth, Ga. 

Senior elite athletes will be vying for medals in this C-Level point tournament that also includes master's divisions for athletes over age 30 and kata (forms) divisions. 

"The President's Cup provides an additional needed point tournament opportunity to assist in the growth and development of our athletes," said USA Judo President Lance Nading (Denver, Colo.).  "Over the years, I've received input from athletes and coaches that they would like more competition opportunities here in the United States.  We're excited for this first year and looking forward to the expansion and growth of this event in years to come."

Competition will begin at 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, in Duluth, Ga.

A schedule of events is as follows:

Saturday June 13

9 a.m.: Senior competition

Women's 63kg, 70kg, 78kg and +78kg

Men's 81kg, 90kg, 100kg and +100kg

1 p.m.: Kata competition

Sunday June 14

9 a.m.: Preliminary competition

Women's 44kg, 48kg, 52kg, 57kg and Open

Men's 55kg, 60kg, 66kg, 73kg and Open

1 p.m.: Masters competition

At least 12 current and former Olympic, World and Pan Am Team members are scheduled to compete, including the following players:

  • Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center / 81kg), 2008 Olympian and three-time World Cup medalist in the 73kg division
  • Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 60kg), 2009 World Team member and 2009 Pan Am medalist
  • Djamaldin Aliev (Denver, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center / 100kg), three-time World Team member and three-time Senior National Champion
  • Kim Carpenter (Burnt Hills, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center / 52kg), 2009 World Team member and Senior National Champion
  • Janine Nakao (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 63kg), 2009 World Team member and two-time Senior National Champion
  • Katie Sell (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center / 70kg), 2009 World Team member and Senior National Champion
  • Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami / 52kg), 2007 World Team member and Pan Am Games bronze medalist at 48kg

A look at some of the most exciting divisions to watch at the National President's Cup Championships is as follows:

Women's 48kg

Natalie Lafon (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), the 2008 Senior National Champion, will enter the event as the top seed and should be on the opposite side of the draw from her JMJC teammate Angela Creutzberger (Ballston Lakes, N.Y.), a two-time Senior Nationals bronze medalist, who is the #3 seed.  Creutzberger will likely face #2 seed Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) in the semifinals of the division.  A two-time Senior Pan Am Team member as a 44kg player, Ibera defeated Creutzberger during their last match-up at the 2008 USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships.

Women's 52kg

Kim Carpenter (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) had her best performance ever when she won the Senior Nationals in April when she upset 2007 Pan Am Games medalist Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) in the semifinals and then beat top-ranked Kayla Chappell (Oklahoma City, Okla. / USA Stars) three times in a row to earn both the gold medal and a berth on the Senior World Team.  All three players will be competing again this weekend with Rodriguez and Carpenter on the same side of the draw.

Women's 57kg

Four of the top five players in this division will be on hand this weekend and all but one have battled back and forth for countless years.  The top three seeds are Hannah Martin (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) and Hana Carmichael (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE).  The players are only a total of three years apart and have fought at both the junior and senior levels for years.  Most recently, Martin advanced to the finals of the Senior Nationals for the second time while Carmichael defeated Delgado to win the bronze medal.  Fourth seed Mindy Chow (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) also will be a player to watch after the 14-year-old won a bronze medal at the Senior Nationals - her first tournament since moving up from 52kg earlier this year.

Women's 63kg

World Team member Janine Nakao (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE) will be the top seed in the division.  The second seed will likely be held by 2008 Junior World Team member Paola Genao-Butler (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center).  A two-time Senior Nationals medalist, Genao-Butler had close matches with Nakao at both the 2008 and 2009 Nationals with Nakao ultimately winning back-to-back titles.

Women's 70kg

Top-ranked Katie Sell (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center) is the World Team representative in this division and has not been beaten by any of the players scheduled to compete in this division.  Other contenders include Sell's OTC teammate Samantha Bleier (Colorado Springs, Colo.) - a new addition to the elite scene after her bronze medal finish at the Senior Nationals - and Laquinta Allen (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. / Onikusu) - a former Pan Am Junior Team member who recently moved down to the division from 78kg and also won her first bronze at the Nationals.  Former Senior National medalist Jennifer Tutass (El Cerrito, Calif. / Standford / Cahill's Judo) also will be competing as a fourth seed. 

Men's 60kg

The top two seeds in this division - Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) and Nick Kossor (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) - fought in the finals of the Senior Nationals with Kunihiro winning on penalties after Kossor won their previous two matches at the Pedro's Challenge in February.  Kunihiro, however, won their previous major match-up during the bronze medal match of the 2008 U.S. Open last fall.  Corwin Learned (El Granada, Calif. / Cahill's Judo Academy), a 2008 Senior Nationals medalist at 55kg, will be attempting to earn a medal in his second major appearance in an Olympic weight division.

Men's 90kg

Top seed Jacob Larsen (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) moved up to the #1 ranking on the heels of his 2008 U.S. Open finals appearance.  Now the former Junior World Team member will be a target for many up-and-comers, including top-ranked junior Tony Sangimino (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) who is looking to earn his first Senior C-Level medal.

Men's 100kg

With three medalists from the Senior Nationals who all last clashed in April competing, this division is a prime location for several great match-ups.  Three-time World Team member Djamaldin Aliev (Denver, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) won his third Senior National title in April, but will enter as the #2 seed behind Pan Am Team member Kyle Vashkulat (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) who Aliev defeated in the finals of the Nationals.  Shintaro Higashi (Scarsdale, N.Y. / NYAC / Kokushi Budo Institute) - Aliev's semifinal opponent at the Seniors - will enter as the #3 seed and has shown he's capable of winning it all, as he did in 2007 when he was crowned the Senior National Champion.

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