( Santiago, Chile ) – Three members of the Menomonee Judo Club are heading to Santiago, Chile to represent the United States at the Junior and Juvenile Pan American Championships this weekend.
This is one of the most prestigious and competitive tournaments in North, Central and South America. Competition will include Juvenile divisions ( 15 – 16 year olds ) on Friday and Junior divisions ( 17 – 19 year olds ) on Saturday. Many of the athletes will also compete at the South American Championships on Sunday ( September 12 ).
The top juniors from more that 20 countries are expected to participate. This includes delegations from traditional power Brazil, along with Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia and Peru amongst others.
The U.S delegation is being lead by Head Coach Brett Wolf ( Menomonee Judo Club, Chicago, IL ). The Menomonee players competing at the event are Andrew Varga ( IJF 73kg ) and Max Bermont ( IJF 100kg ).
For Wolf this is his 4th Junior Pan American coaching position. For the second year in a row two Menomonee players have qualified for the Junior Pan American Team. Last year both Andrew Varga ( bronze medal 73kg Juvenile ) and Lydia Au ( Silver medal 63kg Junior ) represented the United States at the event which was held in Orlando, FL.
This tournament holds special meaning for Wolf, Varga, Bermont and the Menomonee Judo Club. They have trained together for more than a decade. Sensei Wolf has watched these young men grow up before his very eyes. “ They started at the club when they were five years old “ explained Wolf. “ Seeing them reach these heights is a direct result of all the hard work and dedication they have put into the sport “ Brett said as he reflected on 12 years of memories.
For Varga this is his third Junior Pan American Team. He previously qualified for the 2008 Infantile Team ( Toronto, Canada, bronze medal ) and the 2010 Juvenile Team
( Orlando, Florida, bronze medal ). “ I’m really looking forward to having another chance to represent the United States in international competition “ said Andrew. “ When we set our Judo goals at the beginning of the year, the Junior Pan American Team was something I had in my sights. “ a focused Varga explained. Andrew is using the Junior Pan American Championships as a springboard for the Junior World Championships in November. Andrew will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa on Halloween to represent the United States on his first Junior World Championship Team.
This represents the first Junior Pan American Team for Bermont. He has had a very successful year to earn this honor. Back in March, Max earned his first Senior E level National medal with a 3rd place finish at the Midwestern Championships. At the Junior U.S Open this past July, he took home two medals. Winning the silver medal in his 100kg division wasn’t enough for Max. He entered and won the gold medal in the Open weight division, finishing every match by full point. “ It’s like a dream come true for me. I’ve been trying to make the Junior Pan American team for so long and now I’ve finally achieved my goal “ explained an ecstatic Bermont. “ Having Boogie ( Andrew ) as my teammate and Brett as the head coach makes it that much sweeter said Max. Last fall Max headed to Belgium as the only member of the U.S delegation to compete at the very competitive Flanders Judo Cup. He showed his mettle and technique by taking home a hard earned bronze medal.
While being proud and excited for making the team, all three Menomonee members agree that their work has just begun. “ Our goal was never to just make the team. We aren’t going to Santiago to sightsee. It’s a business trip and we plan on heading back to Chicago with some hardware in tow “ said a very focused Sensei Wolf.
Here is the complete roster for Team USA at the event:
Head Coach • Brett Wolf ( Illinois )
Assistant Coach • Henry Okamura ( Illinois )
Junior Team ( 17 -19 year olds ) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-
1. Mary Decker ( Colorado )
2. Carla Genao-Butler ( Colorado )
3. Nathan Kearney ( Texas )
4. Kyle Taketa ( California )
5. Andrew Varga ( Illinois )
6. Austin Cavanaugh ( Illinois )
7. Derek Wojcik ( Georgia )
8. Max Bermont ( Illinois )
9. Jimmy Barnes ( Oklahoma )
Juvenile Team ( 15 – 16 year olds ) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-
10. Lauren Baez ( Florida )
11. Alisha Galles ( New Mexico )
12. Seraiah Martin ( Texas )
13. Matthew Kearney ( Texas )
14. Adonis Diaz ( Florida )
15. William Inserra ( Virginia )
16. Michael Assels ( Texas )