Team USA Named for Senior World Championships
by Nicole Jomantas
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Judo is pleased to announce the 18 athletes who will represent Team USA at the Senior World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from Oct. 6-12.
The 2022 Senior Worlds will serve as one of the first major qualifying tournaments for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France. Based on world rankings over a two-year period, the qualifying process began in June and most of the top contenders for the 2024 Games are expected to be vying for points in Tashkent.
The American squad features two Olympians, 11 returning Senior World Team members and five athletes who competed at the Junior World Championships in August as the young Americans gain experience both for the 2024 Games as well as the home 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Tokyo Olympians Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center / 52kg) and Nina Cutro-Kelly (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo / +78kg) each will be in action in Tashkent.
Delgado, who also competed at the Rio Games, will compete at her 11th straight Senior World Championships and is the highest ranked U.S. athlete on the World Ranking List, sitting 17th in her category after a season that included a silver medal win at the Pan American Championships and a bronze medal finish at the Hungary Grand Slam. The tournament will come just over a week after Delgado’s wedding to her former teammate, Alex Turner who competed with Delgado at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Senior Worlds.
Cutro-Kelly, who made history as the oldest athlete to represent Team USA in judo at the Olympic Games when she fought in Tokyo at the age of 36, will return to her ninth Senior World Championships and her first competition since winning bronze at the 2022 Senior Pan Ams. Cutro-Kelly recently began a new position as an athlete fellow with LA28 in the legal department and is balancing training with serving on the staff to prepare Los Angeles to host a successful home Olympic and Paralympic Games in less than six years.
In addition to Delgado and Cutro-Kelly, nine members of Team USA are returning members of past Senior World Championship Teams.
After making her debut on the Senior World stage at just 15 years old in 2009, Katelyn Jarrell (East Greenwich, R.I. / NYAC / Mayo Quanchi) is the second-highest American in the world rankings where she sits at No. 24 at 52kg after winning bronze at the 2021 Senior Pan Ams and placing fifth at the 2022 Hungary Grand Slam. The 28 year old recently opened a judo, wrestling and BJJ club, Iron Faith, with her husband, Stephen Jarrell, a Division III NCAA finalist wrestler at Johnson & Wales.
John Jayne (Chicago, Ill.) made his Senior World debut in 2021 and continued to climb the ranks this year when he won gold at the Warsaw European Open and earned bronze at the Senior Pan Ams at 90kg. Ranked No. 28 in the world, Jayne also earned two top-seven finishes at Grand Slam events during the past year. Jayne, who previously represented Great Britain early in his career, also is eligible to represent Bulgaria, but the former wrestler for the University of Chicago chose to represent Team USA, competing on the first of three Junior World Teams in 2014.
Maria Laborde (Kenosha, Wis. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) has the distinction of being the only previous Senior World medalist on the team after winning bronze for her native Cuba in 2014. Now a U.S. citizen going to school for physical therapy, Laborde began representing the United States earlier this year in the 48kg event, winning bronze at the Pan Ams and earning medals in all three of her appearances at Continental Open tournaments.
At just 22 years old, Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo) has already represented Team USA twice at the Senior World Championships as well as fighting at three Junior Worlds during her career. A bronze medalist at the Senior Pan Ams in April, Holguin was the only U.S. athlete to fight for a medal at a Grand Slam in 2021, placing fifth in the 57kg event in Baku, Azerbaijan.
L.A. Smith III (Rahway, N.J.) made history earlier this year when he became the first U.S. man to medal on the World Tour in nearly three years when the four-time Senior National Champion won bronze in the 100kg event at the Portugal Grand Prix in January.
Prior to Smith, the last U.S. man to medal on the World Tour was Adonis Diaz (Hialeah, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) who took bronze at the 2019 Montreal Grand Prix. The three-time Senior Pan Am medalist at 60kg moved up to 66kg earlier this year, but will return to his previous category to compete at his fourth Senior Worlds. Earlier this year, Diaz married Kristine Jimenez, a Tokyo Olympian for Panama who competed with Diaz at the 2021 Senior Worlds.
Thirty-four-year-old Hannah Martin (Schenectady, N.Y. / NYAC) will compete at her first Senior Worlds since giving birth to her daughter, Zoey. Martin, who is married to Miguel Ogando – a national level coach for Germany, will compete at her seventh Senior World Championships and holds four Grand Prix and three Senior Pan Am medals at 63kg to her credit.
A gold medalist at the Maccabi Games in July, Sara Golden (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) made her debut at the Senior Worlds in 2021 as a junior athlete. The three-time Junior World Team member will represent Team USA at her second Senior Worlds where she will compete alongside Martin in the 63kg event.
Chantal Wright (San Antonio, Texas / Semper Fortis Judo) has represented Team USA at the Senior World Championships at three of the last four editions of the event, making her debut at 70kg in 2017. Since then, Wright has gone on to earn two Senior Pan Am medals, taking bronze in both 2020 and 2021.
The American squad will be one of the youngest in recent years with six junior athletes ages 20 and younger representing Team USA in Tashkent. Despite their youth, each of these athletes has competed on the senior circuit and all seven have competed at the Junior World Championships.
Christian Konoval (Rockport, Texas / NYAC / Becerra Judo) may be one of the youngest members of Team USA, but the 19-year-old holds the highest world ranking for the senior U.S. men, sitting 25th in the +100kg event. A fifth-place finisher at the Junior World Championships in August, Konoval placed third at the Senior Pan Ams in April and finished fifth at the Portugal Grand Prix in January.
Eighteen-year-old Dominic Rodriguez (Lehigh Acres, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) made history in April as the youngest U.S. man ever to win gold at the Senior Pan American Championships where he took the 73kg title and will return to the world stage after fighting at his first Junior Worlds in August.
Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, N.Y. / NYAC / Cranford Judo & Karate Center) will join Rodriguez at 73kg after making history of his own in August when he became the first U.S. man to win a medal at the event in 30 years. Not only did the 19-year-old take bronze, he did so after being added to Team USA the day before he would leave for the tournament as a wild card addition to the squad.
Yonezuka’s older brother, 20-year-old Nick Yonezuka (West Long Branch, N.Y. / NYAC / Cranford Judo & Karate Center), fought with his younger sibling at both the 2021 and 2022 Junior Worlds, competing in the 81kg division. The two are coached by their father, 1980 Olympian Nicolas Yonezuka with the Yonezuka name being one of the most known in American judo as grandfather Yoshisada Yonezuka was a two-time Olympic coach who founded the Cranford JKC.
Twenty-year-old Alexander Knauf (Yorkville, Ill. / NYAC / Cohen Brothers) finished seventh at the 2022 Junior Worlds in the 90kg categories, respectively, in his debut at the event before withdrawing with an injury. Knauf also earned a silver medal at the Junior Pan Ams earlier this year and took gold at the Guayaquil Senior Pan Am Open in July.
A member of the 2021 Junior World Team, 20-year-old Isaiah Ramirez (Barstow, Calif. / Barstow PAL Judo) qualified for his first Senior Pan Am Team earlier this year, placing seventh at 66kg after earning a seventh place finish at the Paris Grand Slam in February.
A two-time Junior World Team member, 21-year-old Giovanna Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) qualified for her first Senior World Team in her second full season as a senior athlete. Competing at 48kg, Prado took second place behind Laborde at the Senior Nationals in May and earned two medals at continental open events in 2022.
The complete competition schedule and U.S. roster is as follows:
Thursday, Oct. 6
Maria Laborde (Kenosha, Wis. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
Giovanna Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
Adonis Diaz (Hialeah, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
Friday, Oct. 7
Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
Katelyn Jarrell (East Greenwich, R.I. / NYAC / Mayo Quanchi Judo)
Isaiah Ramirez (Barstow, Calif. / Barstow PAL Judo)
Saturday, Oct. 8
Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo)
Dominic Rodriguez (Lehigh Acres, Fla. / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, N.J. / NYAC / Cranford Judo & Karate Center)
Sunday, Oct. 9
Sara Golden (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
Hannah Martin (Schenectady, N.Y. / NYAC)
Nick Yonezuka (West Long Branch, N.Y. / NYAC / Cranford Judo & Karate Center)
Monday, Oct. 10
Chantal Wright (San Antonio, Texas / Semper Fortis Judo)
John Jayne (Chicago, Ill.)
Alexander Knauf (Yorkville, Ill. / NYAC / Cohen Brothers)
Tuesday, Oct. 11
L.A. Smith III (Rahway, N.J.)
Wednesday, Oct. 12
Nina Cutro-Kelly (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo)
Christian Konoval (Rockport, Texas / NYAC / Becerra Judo)