Lots of judo yells (kias), straining bodies and enthusiastic attempts at throwing, holding and obtaining submission from practice partners has been ongoing at the Sterling Elementary Gym for the last eight months. And now several club members of all ages are getting close to the biggest competition of the school year, the Alaska State Judo Championships, April 30 in Anchorage. This event usually sees a couple hundred fighters from some dozen-plus judo clubs from around the state as well as the Yukon Territory, Canada. Last year the Sterling Judo Club surprised everyone with its overall team finish in third place based on the number of Sterling individual medalists.
En-route to the state championships, the club has had members entering monthly competitions in Anchorage including the March 12 competition hosted by the Mat-Su Judo Club in the Wasilla. Sterling’s eleven students all finished with trophies or medals including the following persons pictured above:
Kalisha Hart had a strong first place finish in the girls-12-13 year old group; Kianna Holland had a first place finish fighting up an age group including a surprise win over perennial winner 16-year-old Rachel Laforest from the host club; Peyton Lawton finished second place in the 11-12 year old Light weight; Logan Hart, again, had a first place finish; Elijah Lee had a second place in his first competition; Charles Fairbanks finished in first place; Peyton Williams had a second place finish; Tylin Lundstet competing in two divisions came home with a 1st and 2nd place trophies; Liam Way, another SJC 1st time competitor surprised everyone with a second place finish; Walter Haybeck again, the smallest fighter in his division but with lots of good fighting spirit came home with a second place trophy; and Levi Shoemaker, also in his 1st competition came home with a third place trophy.
Despite only entering eleven competitors, the Sterling Judo Club brought home 12 trophies for an overall third place team trophy.
The team was coached by Clay Holland. The Sterling Judo Club finishes its season with an awards and promotion recognition picnic set for May 3. Then our assistant sensei, Kati Gibler has scheduled a self-defense class for May 5. This class is free to the public and participants should plan to be at the Sterling Elementary Gym by 5:45 for a 6 p.m. starting time. This will be a two hour program. Sensei Gibler’s prior self-defense classes for women and girls have been very well received. She travels to Sterling from Las Vegas where she operates a satellite program of the Sterling Judo Club. This class will be co-ed. The minimum age is 8; and there is no upper age limit.
— Submitted by Clay Holland