Alex Semenenko And Jack Yonezuka Each Bring Home A Gold Medal
Last weekend at the Skopje Junior European Cup in North Macedonia two Junior members of Team USA brought home gold medals. This helped Team USA to finish 3rd in the medal count at the conclusion of the event. Jack Yonezuka entered the competition as the top ranked Junior at -73kg proving he is at the top of his field. Alex Semenenko proved his a name to look out for other Junior competitors at +100kg solidifying his place in the top 30 rankings following his gold medal performance.
Yonezuka began his weekend receiving a bye thanks to his world ranking at number 1. In the second round, Jack defeated Petar Skrba (BIH) by Ippon in just over 2 minutes. He then met up with Artem Neyolov (CAN) after scoring two waza-aris. Moving on to the quarter-final Jack defeated Mariyan Palev (BUL) by Ippon. Yonezukas toughest match came during the semi-final Dardan Cena (KOS). The match headed into golden score and lasted a total time of nearly 5 minutes after Jack scored the winning waza-ari to reach the finals. In the finals, Jack made quick work of his opponent. He threw Lasha Tsatsalashvili (CAN) at the 1 minute and 30 second round bringing home the gold medal.
Alex Semenenko came to Skopje ready to prove he is one of the top +100 Juniors in the world. He immediately was put into a battle with Loannis Kostelidis (GRE). Surrendering a waza-ari early in the match, Semenenko kept his composure, and threw for Ippon at the 2 minute and 28 second mark. The semi-final against Kabriel Kirna (EST) was a difficult match that headed into the golden score. However, the golden score round would be rather short, as Alex scored the winning waza-ari after 14 seconds! In the finals, Alex scored a waza-ari early on into the fight. Then he put the competition to rest, scoring the second and winning waza-ari after 3 minutes!
Congratulations to Jack Yonezuka and Alex Semenenko on their performances. There is for sure many more of these performances and medals to come in their judo careers for the two junior athletes!