Laborde, Knauf and Keeve Win Silver in Santo Domingo

by Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, CO) – Team USA saw three of its own reach the finals this weekend in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with all three athletes winning silver medals at the Santo Domingo Pan American Open.

2023 Santo Domingo Pan American Open Results

Maria Laborde (Kenosha, WI / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) represented the U.S. women on the podium in the 48 kg event while Alex Knauf (Yorkville, IL / NYAC / Cohen Brother’s Judo) and Nate Keeve (San Rafael, CA / NYAC) won silver in the 90 kg and 100 kg categories, respectively.

Ranked 20th in the world, Laborde scored the first medal of the weekend, ending the day with a 3-1 record. The two-time Senior World medalist needed just over two minutes in the first round to dispatch Elianny Feliz (DOM). In the second minute of the match, Laborde threw Feliz for a waza-ari score and narrowly missed closing out the match on the ground when Feliz escaped the American’s pin. On the next exchange, Laborde threw Feliz again, this time taking an ippon (instant win) score to claim the match. In the quarter-finals, Laborde forced Zamarit Gregorio (CUB) into three penalties in just under three minutes to secure the win.

Laborde claimed her third win of the day in the semifinals, throwing 2021 Senior Pan Am Championships bronze medalist Luz Pena (ECU) for ippon at the end of the first minute. With a medal secured, however, Laborde was unable to score in the finals, dropping the match three penalties to two against Rio Olympian and nine-time Pan Am Championships medalist Edna Carrillo (MEX).

On Sunday, Knauf, a seventh-place finisher at the 2022 Junior Worlds, continued two establish himself on the senior circuit, winning his second medal out of three appearances on the senior Pan Am Open circuit. The 21-year-old who competed at his first Senior World Championships last year, dispatched each of his first two opponents with first minute throws for ippon, beating Axel Garcia (HON) in the quarters and two-time Junior Pan Am Championships medalist Diego Diaz (MEX) in the semis. In the finals, Knauf came up against Robert Florentino (DOM) – a Tokyo Olympian and 2017 Junior World silver medalist. Late in the second minute, Florentino caught Knauf with a throw for ippon to claim gold and defending his 2022 title at this event in front of a home crowd.

Nate Keeve (San Rafael, CA / New York Athletic Club) scored his second straight podium finish of the season, following his bronze medal at the Medellin Pan American Open last month with silver in the Dominican Republic. After a bye into the quarter-finals, Keeve advanced to the finals with wins by ippon over Antonio Rodriguez Rengel (VEN) and Alexis Esquivel (MEX) who went on to win his fifth career Pan Am Open medal with a bronze. In the finals, Cuban junior Lianet Cardona had two penalties to Keeve’s one when Cardona threw the 2021 Senior World Team member for a waza-ari in the last 90 seconds of the match. Keeve kept attacking throughout the final minute, but couldn’t produce a score and ended the day with a silver. The medal is the fifth straight podium finish and 10th overall for Keeve on the Pan Am circuit.

In addition to valuable Olympic qualifying points, all three athletes earned key qualification points for selection to the 2023 Pan American Games which will be held in October in Santiago, Chile.

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

Men’s 60 kg
1. Arath Juarez (MEX)
2. Ivan Salas (VEN)
3. Ashley McKenzie (JAM)
3. Bryan Garboa (ECU)
5. Sebastian Sancho (CRC)
5. Heriberto De Aza (DOM)
7. Jose Ramos (GUA)
7. Christopher Velazco (Coral Springs, FL / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)

Women’s 48 kg
1. Edna Carrillo (MEX)
2. Maria Laborde (Kenosha, WI / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
3. Daniela Restrepo (COL)
3. Zamarit Gregorio (CUB)
5. Maria Gimenez (VEN)
5. Luz Pena (ECU)
7. Jacqueline Solis (GUA)
7. Estefania Soriano (DOM) 

Also Competed: Giovanna Prado (Coral Springs, FL / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center), 0-1
Anne Suzuki (San Jose, CA / San Jose State University), 0-1

Men’s 66 kg
1. Orlando Polanco (CUB)
2. Julien Frascadore (CAN)
3. Elmert Ramirez (DOM)
3. Ulises Mendez (MEX)
5. Willis Garcia (VEN)
5. Robin Jara (MEX)
7. Joaquin Tovagliari (ARG)
7. Anderson Pol Guelle (DOM)

Also Competed: Isaiah Ramirez (Barstow, CA / Barstow PAL Judo Club)

Women’s 52 kg
1. Ana Viktorija (CRO)
2. Paulina Martinez (MEX)
3. NIkol Pencue (COL)
3. Jennifer Etienne (HAI)
5. Fabiola Diaz (VEN)
5. Yurisleidy Hernandez Iglesias (CUB)
7. Francine Echevarria (PUR)
7. Lilian Cordones (PAN)   

Men’s 73 kg
1. Antoine Bouchard (CAN)
2. Eduardo Araujo (MEX)
3. Justin Lemire (CAN)
3. Andres Sandoval (COL)
5. Gilberto Cardoso (MEX)
5. Antonio Tornal (DOM)
7. Jose Geronimo (DOM)
7. Yanis Hachemi (CAN)

Women’s 57 kg
1. Arnaes Odelin Garcia (CUB)
2. Ana Rosa (DOM)
3. Maria Villalba (COL)
3. Astrid Gavidia (ECU)
5. Kristine Jimenez (PAN)
5. Kady Cabezo (VEN)
7. Renata Ortiz (MEX)
7. Sabiano Anestor (HAI)

Also Competed: Leana Nelson (Coventry, RI / Top Game Martial Arts), 0-1

Men’s 81 kg
1. Medickson Del Orbe Cortorreal (DOM)
2. Jan Svoboda (CZE)
3. Maikel Mkencie Londres (CUB)
3. Jorge Martinez (CUB)
5. David Popovici (CAN)
5. Alexis Harrison Ayarza (PAN)
7. Alexander Borja (COL)
7. Gustavo Eduardo Lopez Aguilera (ESA)

Also Competed: Ramon Hernandez Jr. (Pompton Lakes, NJ / North Jersey Judo), 0-1
Gianni Hallak (New York City, NY / Kokushi Budo Institute of New York), 0-1
Bryan Davis (La Canada, CA / Los Angeles Tenri Judo Dojo), 0-1

Women’s 63 kg
1. Maylin Del Toro Carvajal (CUB)
2. Anriquelis Barrios (VEN)
3. Prisca Awiti Alcaraz (MEX)
3. Isabelle Harris (CAN)
5. Creymarlin Valdez (DOM)
5. Edith Ortiz (ECU)
7. Manuela Fernandez Tejada (PAN)
7. Emily Jaspe (Hialeah, FL / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)

Men’s 90 kg
1. Robert Florentino (DOM)
2. Alexander Knauf (Yorkville, IL / NYAC / Cohen Brothers Judo)
3. Diego Diaz (MEX)
3. Max Stewart (JAM)
5. Carlos Paez (VEN)
5. Angel Garcia (MEX)
7. Axel Garcia (HON)
7. Guillaume Gaulin (CAN)

Women’s 70 kg
1. Elivsmar Rodriguez (VEN)
2. Lara Cvjetko (CRO)
3. Maria Perez (PUR)
3. Idelannis Gomez Feria (CUB)
5. Celinda Corozo (ECU)
5. Diana Brenes (CRC)
7. Julieta Perez (MEX)
7. Chantal Wright (San Antonio, Texas / Semper Fortis Judo)

Also Competed: Melissa Myers (Burnt Hills, NY / Jason Morris Judo Center), 0-1
Shavon Gonzalez (West Palm Beach, FL / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center), 0-1

Men’s 100 kg
1. Liester Cardona (CUB)
2. Nate Keeve (San Rafael, CA / New York Athletic Club)
3. Nikola Petrovic (CAN)
3. Alexis Esquivel (MEX)
5. Alex Strachan (BAH)
5. Junior Angulo (ECU)
7. Antonio Rodriguez Rengel (VEN)
7. Ariel Lorenzo Pina (DOM)

Women’s 78 kg
1. Eiraima Silvestre (DOM)
2. Coralie Godbout (CAN)
3. Vanessa Chala (ECU)
3. Sariy Colon (PUR)
5. Laura Elisa Diaz Alburquerque (DOM)
5. Nairelis Fuentes (CUB)
7. Keyra Ortiz (NCA)
7. Leslie Villarreal (MEX)

Men’s +100 kg
1. Marc Deschenes (CAN)
2. Jose Nova Alcantara (DOM)
3. Luis Amezquita (VEN)
3. Freddy Figueroa (ECU)
5. Steven Moore (JAM)
5. Juan Camilo Landazuri (COL)
7. Philip Horiuchi (West Covina, CA / Los Angeles Tenri Judo Dojo)
7. Julio Cesar Javier Arias (DOM)

Women’s +78 kg
1. Idalys Ortiz (CUB)
2. Amarantha Udrdaneta (VEN)
3. Izayana Marenco (NCA)

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