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East Union freshman takes third — twice

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East Union freshman takes third — twice

East Union High freshman Sarah Phillips added two bronze medals to her collection after placing in the 46th Annual Judo Junior National Championships and the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Champi...

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED August 12, 2009 2:32 a.m.
It’s Day 3 of Sarah Phillips’ transition from New Haven School 8th grader to East Union High freshman.

“We’re just fresh meat now,” she joked about herself and her 9th-grade classmates.

Phillips is beginning her adventure into the unknown and is willing to try new things, but before that she was busy doing what she knows best this summer.

Phillips, one of Stockton Judo Club’s most decorated students this year, is coming off third-place finishes in the 46th Annual Judo Junior National Championships (July 12) at San Francisco City College and the USA Judo National Junior Olympic Championships (July 24) in Orlando, Fla.

In her seven-year Judo career, the newly-anointed purple belt had never previously competed beyond the California Judo Championships. This year, the Phillips claimed a state title in the Juvenile A, 48-kilogram division at the San Diego Convention Center.

“It was a lot tougher than I’m used to,” she said. “But it’s still the same competition, and I’m still the same Sarah.”

Phillips admitted to be in awe of the surroundings at both national events. There were 569 competitors at Jr. Nationals, and 396 at the Jr. Olympics.

“There were barely any seats available during the Jr. Olympics,” Phillips said. “It was a standing-room (only).”

Phillips plans to continue practicing Judo but could be adding more to her already full plate. She graduated from New Haven with a 4.0 GPA and has volunteered her time at the Children’s Museum and San Joaquin Homeless Shelters.

She could try out for the volleyball team, and her father, Patrick Phillips, says she’s a strong swimmer, so she may spend much of the spring season treading water. But over the winter, she could follow a similar path to that of her cousin, Samantha Phillips, a 2007 Manteca High graduate.

Samantha Phillips parlayed her expertise in Judo into a standout wrestling career in high school. She earned a state championship in an all-girls invitational as a senior, took second in Jr. Nationals and is currently at Oklahoma City University on an athletic scholarship.

Sarah wants to give wrestling a shot but was jokingly told by some that girls aren’t allowed on the wrestling team.

“I was like, ‘Psh, watch me,’” she said.

Patrick encourages his daughter to wrestle because of the similarities to Judo, but all he wants is for her to stay busy and be happy.

“I’m confident that she will excel in anything she does,” he said. “She’s always been in competition ever since she was younger, and it has carried over into everything, not just in athletics.”
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