Judo members train in Wakefield

MEDALISTS John Silva (left) and Casey Pedro (right) are pictured with Pedro’s Judo Center Manager Riley McIlwain. Silva won a bronze medal and Pedro was awarded a silver medal at the Junior Nationals.

MEDALISTS John Silva (left) and Casey Pedro (right) are pictured with Pedro’s Judo Center Manager Riley McIlwain. Silva won a bronze medal and Pedro was awarded a silver medal at the Junior Nationals.

Published in the March 17, 2016 edition.

IRVING, Texas — On March 5 and 6, eight judo players from Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield flew down to Irving, Texas to compete at the U.S.A. Judo Scholastic National Championships.

The Scholastics is an event for judo players 7 years old through 20 years old to come together and fight for the junior national title. This tournament not only determined who the best junior athletes were in the United States but for competitors 15 years old and above, this event served as a Junior Pan-American Team Trials.

Winners of the 15-16 and 17-20 year old divisions were selected to represent the United States at the Junior Pan-American Championships in South America this summer.

Pedro’s Judo Center took home two gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals.

Those two gold medal performances qualified Katrina Blaus (Danvers) and Kaelin O’Sullivan (Marblehead) for the Junior Pan-American Championships later this summer. Both girls went undefeated in the girls’ 15-16 year old division dominating their opponents and clinching their spot for the Pan-American Team.

“I am extremely happy with this weekend’s results at the Scholastic National Championships by the kids from our judo center. We have had a history of excellence at the elite level and now our next generation of champions are being groomed for success with both Katrina Blaus and Kaelin O’Sullivan qualifying for the Jr. Pan American Team that will compete in Argentina this July,” commented Head Coach Jimmy Pedro of Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield. “This summer will be a very exciting time for our dojo as three of our athletes will also compete in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.”

Leading the team in Texas was Pedro’s Judo Center Manager Riley McIlwain.

“This is one of our better postings at a Junior National event in recent years. This is the first time since 2013 where we had multiple top three finishers. I think it comes down to Sensei Jimmy Pedro, his father and the incredible family support system behind them every step of the way,” said McIlwain.

Jaden Petroules (Windham, N.H.), after coming off of an injury earned himself a bronze medal in the 15-16 66 kilogram division. This is his best performance to date. Petroules also fought in the 17-20 division going 1-2. He had to settle for only one medal this time around.

John Silva (Saugus), also earned a bronze medal in the 17-20 year old 81 kilogram division. This was Silva’s first year among the 17-20 year olds. Silva has been consistently medaling at junior national events since 2014. Although not the result he wanted, Silva is using this as fuel for his next bout on the national stage.

Bentley University sophomore, Casey Pedro (Methuen ), secured the other silver medal in the 17-20 girls division in the 70 kilogram category. Pedro easily made it to the finals of her division and fell to the eventual gold medalist in a heartbreaking loss. She ended the day going 3-2.

Lastly, Lynnfield residents Devin Leggett, Timothy Leggett, Dylan Greenstein did not take home medals from this year’s event. For all of them this was the first time in an older category and different weight classes.

“For our athletes that did not place, I do think a lot of it contributed to a lack of experience in their new divisions. All of them have plenty of more years ahead. I know Devin Leggett was facing off against kids who were 20 years old where he is just 17. That’s a big jump,” said McIlwain. “Dylan Greenstein actually bumped up an age range and fought in a different division, so for him it comes down to confidence and experience against lighter opponents as he is typically fighting heavyweights.”

The next Junior National event for Pedro’s Judo Center is the Jr. U.S. Open in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in the summertime. The team will be competing in multiple events per month to prepare. The Jr. U.S. Open is arguably one of the most challenging events for juniors in the United States. But until then, the team will be back on the mat training and supporting our elite athletes as they prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games.