Seven athletes competed and four earned their place on the podium
Over the weekend on June 10th and 11th seven Team USA Judo athletes traveled to Cordoba, Argentina to compete at the 2023 Cordoba Pan American Open. It was a fantastic event for Team USA judo players who finished with 4 total medals and two 5th place finishes as well.
The first to reach the podium over the weekend for Team USA was David Terao. David competed in the -60kg division. After receiving a bye in the first round David’s first match would be Diego Lahiton (ARG). Terao would score a waza-ari to secure his victory. In the next round, David would unfortunately surrender a waza-ari and then be thrown once again for ippon. He would recover during the repechage round to win the bronze medal, the first medal of the weekend for Team USA!
The next USA Judo athlete to compete would be Malia Soberano in the -52kg division. Malia would unfortunately drop her first match to Alamo Valentina of Argentina. However, her day was not yet over. Malia would be dropped into the repechage round where she would be put into a battle against another Argentinian judoka, Sofia Fiora, for the bronze medal. Unfortunately, she would not win this match and Malia would finish in 5th place!
Leana Nelson would experience a very similar day of competition at the -57kg category. Leana dropped her first match to Brisa Gomez (ARG). She would move on into the repechage round where Leana would unfortunately lose in the bronze medal match. Leana would also finish in 5th place.
To continue on his already strong season, Jack Yonezuka -73kg added another gold medal to his 2023 resume. Jack first competed in the Cordoba Junior Pan American Open in which he won the gold medal. A few days later, Jack was given a bye in the drawing of the Cordoba Pan American Open! He came out strong in his first match against Felipe Perez (CHI). In the following round, Jack met Vinicius Ardina (BRA) and was able to quickly secure his win. In the finals, Jack faced Matteo Etchechury (ARG) who was under the support of the home crowd. Jack was able to make quick work of his opponent to win the gold medal.
Sara Golden was the last of the competing Team USA Judo athletes to take home a medal! Sara had two matches total at the -63kg category and managed to win both matches in just under 4 minutes of total match time. Her opening match was against Karla Valencia (ECU) where Sara was able to win by ippon. In the finals, Sara won in just over 1 minute of match time by ippon against Agustina De Lucia (ARG) and took home the gold medal.
The last Team USA player to compete over the weekend was Melissa Myers at the -70kg division. Melissa unfortunately dropped her first match of the day to Victoria DelVecchio of Argentina after receiving a bye in the first round. She was able to turn things around in the repechage to bring home the bronze medal for Team USA.
Congratulations to all the competing judoka for Team USA over the weekend. Continue to push through the 2023 season and keep up the hard work heading into 2024 in preparation for the Paris Games.