Judo competitors earn medals

NAS Whidbey fighters capture medals at Junior Olympics and Junior Nationals.

“Four members of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Judo choked, threw, wrestled and tripped their way through the Junior Olympics and Junior Nationals earlier this month in Oakland, Calif. Both Marti Malloy and Molly O’Rourke returned with gold medals around their necks. Marti won the gold medal in the 13/14 year-old 120-lbs. division at the Junior Olympics, which ran from July 6-8, and the bronze medal in the Junior National tournament a week earlier. Marti, a tenth-degree purple belt, has been training since last October for the two tournaments and is very enthusiastic about judo.I want judo to be everything I do, she said. Everyone in the club roots for you, and it’s really exciting. O’Rourke didn’t know she was fighting for the gold when she beat her opponent in the 17/18 year-old 171 lbs. division. I was kind of surprised because they didn’t tell me it was the championship match, she said.The second-degree brown belt has been practicing with NAS Judo for three years.I like everything about it-the chokes, the holds, the throws, the way it makes me feel after I’m done, O’Rourke said.Marti’s brother Francis placed fourth in the highly competitive Junior Olympic 15/16 year-old 145 lbs. division. Francis, an eleventh-degree purple belt who has competed in over 100 tournaments, said he usually places in the top three spots. It was a little bit disappointing because I usually do better, Francis said. It was kind of an eye opening experience.Erin Monaghan went to the Junior Nationals in the 138-lbs. division. Though she didn’t place, Erin had fun at the tournament.I like the sport itself, Monaghan said. You get to throw people and choke them.Newcomers to judo soon find out that the sport is dominated by wrestling and throwing and not punching and kicking.It’s using the other person’s strength for your benefit, Francis said.Head sensei Gary Stewart started teaching the group in 1988, but he’s been a part of NAS Judo since 1980. He’s a really good coach, and he knows what it takes to succeed, Marti said.George Morris, who founded the club in the ’60s and brought it back in 1980, is the technical adviser. Colleen Monaghan is the assistant coach and heads the girls club and Candy Sponberg and Rueben Malloy also help with coaching duties.Stewart said his favorite part about coaching is the gratification he gets from helping people progress. It’s nice to watch them grow in judo and watch them achieve their goals, he said. NAS Judo is always welcoming new participants, and they meet upstairs in the NAS Gym aerobics room Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. “