NewsMariah HolguinMaria LabordeAngelica Delgado

Team USA Wins Four Medals on Opening Day of Senior Pan Ams

by Nicole Jomantas

Maria Laborde (48 kg), Angelica Delgado (52 kg), David Terao (60 kg) and Mariah Holguin (57 kg) each won medals on the first day of the Senior Pan Ams in Rio. (Photo by Nicole Jomantas)

(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – Team USA earned two silver and two bronze medals at the Senior Pan American-Oceania Championships on Friday to finish the first day of competition second in total medal count behind host nation Brazil.

2024 Senior Pan Am-Oceania Championships Results

Competing in one of the venues from the Rio Olympic Games, Carioca Arena 1, the U.S. team battled for Olympic points with the Paris Games less than 100 days away.

Angelica Delgado (Miami, FL / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center / 52 kg) and David Terao (Fairfax, VA / 60 kg) each earned silver medals while Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, TX / Universal Judo / 57 kg) and Maria Laborde (Kenosha, WI / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center / 48 kg) won bronze.

I am really proud of myself that I was able to stay consistent throughout all these years and prove to myself that I can do it and on the world’s biggest stage as well
Angelica Delgado

Delgado, a two-time Olympian earned her sixth career Senior Pan Am Championships silver medal and ninth Pan Am podium finish in the 52 kg division.

Nearly 13 years after winning her first Senior Pan Am medal in 2011 with a bronze, Delgado finished 3-1 to win not only a silver medal, but significant points towards qualifying for her third Olympic Games.

“It’s kind of beautiful to be here and see the Olympic stadium where I fought in my first Olympic Games and now I’m going to be competing in my third, hopefully,” Delgado reflected. “That’s kind of been my life. It’s beautiful. I love judo and I’m so happy to be finishing off strong.” 

In the first two rounds of the day, Delgado pinned both Sheily Lopez (GUA) and Aleanny Caronell Julian (CAN) to advance to the semifinals where she threw two-time Senior Pan Am medalist Kelly Deguchi (CAN) for a waza-ari (half point) score to win the match.

In the finals, Delgado faced Larissa Pimenta (BRA) – her opponent from the 2019, 2021 and 2021 Senior Pan Am finals.

“It’s great to have these rivals that push you. She’s definitely one of those players that has pushed me to be better, pushed me to take my name to a new level,” Delgado said. “The way the IJF calendar is set up, there’s so many tournaments in every year, but we always seem to find each other in the Pan Am final … we know each other so much. We’ve trained at various training camps, fought each other in all these Pan Am finals.”

The two fought another  close match with neither athlete scoring. The match went from regulation into overtime before Pineda won by three penalties to two.

“I felt really good today. All throughout the day, I felt like I was fighting smart, winning matches … I felt focused, I felt good, but my final obviously is a little disappointing,” Delgado said. “I’m happy with silver, not content, but I am happy with silver. I just felt like I definitely could have gotten the gold. To lose by a shido in overtime, it’s hard. I expected more out of myself. I really thought I was going to win even though she was home and she had the advantage.”

Competing on the site of her first Olympic Games, Delgado reflected on her career.

“It kind of seems incredible. I got my first Pan Am medal in 2011, so it’s been quite some years. It’s been kind of a long time coming,” she said. “I’m kind of upset that this one wasn’t a gold, but I am really proud of myself that I was able to stay consistent throughout all these years and prove to myself that I can do it and on the world’s biggest stage as well.”

Judo was always my first sport. A lot of the techniques I hit in wrestling were based on judo.
David Terao

While Delgado has competed on the international stage for more than 15 years, Terao made his Senior Pan Am debut in 2023 at 30 years old, but this year came prepared to make an impact and stun some of his opponents.

Fighting in the round of 16, Terao pinned Ashley McKenzie (JAM) – a three-time Olympian for Great Britain before changing his representation to Jamaica. Although McKenzie ultimately escaped, Terao held it for the duration of a waza-ari score (10 seconds) and held McKenzie scoreless for the last 90 seconds of the match. 

“I knew it would be tough. I just found a moment in the match where he kind of exposes himself on the mat so I was able to hold him down just for that 10 seconds,” Terao said. “It could play out differently, but I know I have the skill on the floor to get it done if people put themselves in those positions.”

In the quarter-finals, Terao went into Golden Score with Rio Olympian Joshua Katz (AUS) who he threw in the opening minute of sudden death overtime.

Terao’s semifinal would be a rematch against Jonathan Charon – the rising star from Cuba whom he lost to in the opening round last year. This time, Terao took the win when Charon was given a hansokumake and advanced to the gold medal final where he battled 2024 Portugal Grand Prix silver medalist Michel Agusto (BRA), but lost on penalties in front of Agusto’s home crowd.

“[Today] was a lot better than my previous outing at the Pan Am Championships. Plenty to work on, but happy to come home with some hardware, so, all in all, a good day,” Terao said. “[I’m] really trying to make sure that, even though I know skill for skill I’m right there with these guys, making it happen right there on the mat is a different story. Just coming out a little more aggressive and making things happen in my favor.”

A high level junior judo competitor, Terao chose to focus on wrestling where he became an All-American for American University in 2016 in the 125 pound category, placing fourth at NCAAs. In 2022, he emerged on the international judo scene for the first time at the Tunis African Open with his ultimate goal of competing at the Olympic Games.

“Judo was always my first sport. A lot of the techniques I hit in wrestling were based on judo. I was kind of known for hitting an uchimata slide by sort of deal – all kind of judo-wrestling hybrid stuff that I really enjoy doing,” said Terao who also won the Pan Am Infantile Championships in his youth. “I never competed at the international level in judo, never as an adult … [My goal is] just make it as far as I can. I’m hoping to stretch it out til 2028. I’ll be a little older by then, but hopefully I can keep my body moving and keep performing, but that’s ultimately the big goal. And if I can make it this year to Paris, I’d like to. It’s going to be really tough, but I’ll give it my best footing.”

Laborde bolstered her position as the top American on the Olympic Rankings List with a third straight Senior Pan Am Championship bronze in the 48 kg.

The two-time Senior World medalist for Cuba has been climbing the rankings since she began representing the United States in 2022 with wins that included a silver medal at the Masters Worlds last year.

Laborde controlled her round of 16 match against Martina Diaz (CHI), throwing Diaz for a waza-ari score and choking her for ippon. The choke was waved off, however and the match resumed with Laborde throwing Diaz for another waza-ari score.

In the quarters, Laborde and Gabriela Narvaez (PAR) were tied at two penalties each when the American threw Narvaez for a waza-ari score in the third minute. Narvaez then was given a third penalty and Laborde took the match.

The next match would become a penalty battle as well with Laborde falling to Erika Lasso (COL), three penalties to two.

In the bronze medal final, Laborde threw Keisy Perafan (ARG) for a waza-ari in the first 15 seconds and held her scoreless for the remainder of the match.

A 2022 Senior Pan Am bronze medalist, Holguin returned to the podium for the second time in the 57 kg division.

Holguin opened with a win on penalties over 2019 Senior Pan Am Championships bronze medalist Ana Rosa (DOM), but lost to 2016 Olympic Champion Rafaela Silva (BRA) who went on to win her third Senior Pan Am Championship title in front of the home crowd.

Holguin fought into the first minute of Golden Score in her bronze medal final before taking the win over Kiara Arango (PER) on penalties.

Ari Berliner (Schenectady, NY / NYAC / Jason Morris Judo Center) and Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC) finished fifth after losses in the 66 kg and 73 kg bronze medal matches, respectively.

A 2022 Senior Pan Am bronze medalist, Berliner split his first two matches on penalties, winning the first against Reinaldo Caceres (CHI), but lost in the quarter-finals to four-time Senior Pan Am silver medalist Orlando Polanco (CUB) who threw Berliner for a waza-ari and later took the match when Berliner was given a third penalty. In the next match, Berliner and three-time Senior Pan Am Champion Lenin Preciado (ECU) were tied at two penalties each when Preciado threw Berliner for ippon.

Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC) finished fifth in Rio de Janeiro, but the Paris Olympic hopeful is expected to build on his position of No. 16 in the 73 kg filtered Olympic Rankings. The two-time Junior World medalist threw Alejandro Mora (CRC) for a waza-ari and transitioned quickly into a pin for ippon. In the quarter-finals, however, Yonezuka was thrown by Ulises Mendez (MEX) for a waza-ari and couldn’t come back with a score of his own.

In the repechage, Yonezuka pinned Facundo De Lucia (ARG) for the win to advance to the gold medal finals, but dropped his next match when he was thrown by Antonio Tornal (DOM) for a waza-ari. Yonezuka took the match to the ground late in the final minute, but couldn’t lock in the pin and ended the day in fifth place.

Both of Team USA’s 63 kg athletes earned seventh place finishes with Hannah Martin (Burnt Hills, NY / NYAC) and Sara Golden (Crystal Lake, WI / USA Judo National Resident Training Center Team) each ending the day with 1-2 records.

Competition continues on Saturday with the men’s 81 kg, 90 kg, 100 kg and +100 kg divisions and women’s 70 kg, 78 kg and +78 kg divisions.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Men’s 60 kg
1. Michel Augusto (BRA)
2. David Terao (Fairfax, VA)
3. Jonathan Charon (CUB)
3. Arath Juarez (MEX)
5. Joshua Katz (AUS)
5. Johan Rojas (COL)
7. Bernabe Vergara (PAN)
7. Jairo Moreno (ESA)

Women’s 48 kg
1. Mary Dee Vargas Ley (CHI)
2. Erika Lasso (COL)
3. Amanda Lima (BRA)
3. Maria Celia Laborde (Kenosha, WI / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
5. Keisy Perafan (ARG)
5. Natasha Ferreira (BRA)
7. Edna Carrillo (MEX)
7. Gabriela Narvaez (PAR)

Also Competed: Anne Suzuki (San Jose, CA / San Jose State University Judo), 0-1

Men’s 66 kg
1. Willian Lima (BRA)
2. Juan Postigos (PER)
3. Juan Hernandez (COL)
3. Lenin Preciado (ECU)
5. Ari Berliner (Schenectady, NY / NYAC / Jason Morris Judo Center)
5. Orlando Polanco (CUB)
7. Julien Frascadore (CAN)
7. Willis Garcia (VEN)

Women’s 52 kg
1. Larissa Pimenta (BRA)
2. Angelica Delgado (Miami, FL / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
3. Kelly Deguchi (CAN)
3. Aleanny Carbonell Julian (CUB)
5. Paulina Martinez (MEX)
5. Tinka Easton (AUS)
7. Lilian Cordones (PAN)
7. Francine Echevarria (PUR)

Also Competed: Jenna Schurr (Torrance, CA), 0-1

Men’s 73 kg
1. Arthur Margelidon (CAN)
2. Daniel Cargnin (BRA)
3. Antonio Tornal (DOM)
3. Ulises Mendez (MEX)
5. Gilberto Cardoso (MEX)
5. Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC)
7. Facundo De Lucia (ARG)
7. Ronal Gonzalez (PAN)

Women’s 57 kg
1. Rafaela Silva (BRA)
2. Christa Deguchi (CAN)
3. Ana Rosa (DOM)
3. Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, TX / Universal Judo)
5. Kiara Arango (PER)
5. Kristine Jimenez (PAN)
7. Brisa Gomez (ARG)
7. Marian Flores (PER)

Women’s 63 kg
1. Katharina Haecker (AUS)
2. Nauana Silva (BRA)
3. Maylin Del Toro Carvajal (CUB)
3. Ketleyn Quadros (BRA)
5. Anriquelis Barrios (VEN)
5. Prisca Awiti Alcaraz (MEX)
7. Hannah Martin (Burnt Hills, NY / NYAC)
7. Sara Golden (Crystal Lake, WI / USA Judo National Resident Training Center Team)