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Local judokas rack up numerous honors

Phillips, Marquez and Sarmento all earn medals at state tournament

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Local judokas rack up numerous honors

Birthday girl Sarah Phillips poses with her California Judo Championships first place medal Thursday afternoon. Phillips won the state title Sunday in San Diego.

BRANDON PETERSEN/The Bulletin


POSTED May 29, 2009 1:54 a.m.
Last Sunday was a busy day for a number of local judokas fighting out of the Manteca and Stockton Judo Clubs.

Sarah Phillips, cousin of Manteca High graduate and highly decorated wrestler Samantha Phillips, celebrated her 14th birthday Thursday, four days after claiming the state title in her weight class at the California Judo Championships held at the San Diego Convention Center.

Phillips, who fights out of the Stockton Judo Club, was joined in San Diego by Manteca Judo Club members Michael Sarmento and Vincent Marquez, both 10.

Marquez fought his way through a 16-person field, primarily in the loser’s bracket, to claim second-place overall, while Sarmento walked away with a third-place finish.

Phillips, Sarmento and Marquez will now move on to the Judo Junior Nationals held at San Francisco Community College July 10 through 12, and will be joined by Manteca Judo Club’s Jordan Trotter and Robert Foo, who have both experienced success at the state level in previous years.

“(Marquez) had to face eight matches to get to the championships,” Manteca Judo Club sensei Joe Franco said. “He lost in the championship to take second place, but he fought his heart out.”

The same could be said for Sarmento, who had to face stiff competition in his weight class.

“Michael had a tough pool with some really good judokas,” Franco said. “He lost in his final match to take third place. It’s going to be tough for Michael heading into nationals because I’m sure he’s going to face (the No. 1 and 2 finishers) again.”

Prior to the state championship, both Sarmento and Marquez fought at the San Francisco Invitational in early May and both walked away with tournament gold.

“I like the excitement of winning,” Sarmento said. “It’s fun meeting new people.”

Said Marquez: “Judo teaches you discipline. I also like learning new techniques and new throws.”

Phillips, who is headed to East Union in the fall for her freshman season wrestling under head coach A.J. Reindel, collected a first-round pin before out-throwing her opponent and bridging a possible pin in the second round and outscoring her opponent in the third to claim the title.

“Judo is about throwing and grappling techniques,” Phillips said. “When you get to 13 (years old), you can choke, and then when you get your black belt you can use arm bars.”

Phillips was introduced to the sport by her cousin and trained under Franco before moving on to Stockton two years ago.

“I like Judo because it teaches you self-defense,” Phillips said. “You also get to meet a lot of new people.”

Over 500 competitors fought in San Diego, and over 600 are expected in San Francisco in July.

Phillips is also moving on to the Junior National Olympics and Junior Team Trials in Orlando, Fla. July 23 through 26.

In order to get there though, she will have to find sponsorship to cover the costs of the trip.

Pat Phillips, Sarah’s father, can be contacted at (209) 679-5725 if area businesses are interested in sponsoring the California state champion, and all donations will be made through the Stockton Judo Club.

The Manteca Judo Club is run through the Manteca Parks and Recreation Department and although no practices’ are being held this summer, once training resumes, club judokas meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
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