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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jun. 28, 2018 4 months ago

Chris Welbon Karate team heads to AAU nationals

The local club team is looking to add to its record-breaking season resume.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

No matter what happens at this week’s 2018 AAU Karate National Championships, this season has been historically good for the Chris Welbon Karate Clubs team.

The 2018 season has seen the 37-person squad claim 299 medals over five tournaments — 64 more than the 2016 season, when the club won 235 with AAU nationals included. This week, the club has sent 25 of its 35 members to Fort Lauderdale for the last major event of its season. The dojo also claims a record 13 state champions this year.

“Everybody’s raised their game up this year,” head coach Brian Warren said. “There’s been improvements across the board.”

Moving the dojo from a rented space on Collins Street to its current Mobley Street location has been a boon for the competitive team, which now has far more space to work with and plans to implement an offseason conditioning and training program to keep everyone in competition shape year-round. It also benefited from good health early in the season, which made a big impact on team performance in the Jan. 27 opening weekend tournament — the team won a season-high 64 medals.

“Our mentality was, ‘We’re not going to warm up. We’re going to win that tournament.’ That was our best tournament for the whole Florida season,” Warren said. “I thought we pushed the kids hard right away.”

Though the group has dealt with its fair share of injuries all season, from simple sprains and bruises to a broken leg, Warren said this year’s members have been focused, coachable and willing to work hard.

“It’s been a blast, having a big team,” Warren said. “Everybody gets along good. Parents are all working together to fundraise. We all meshed really well together this year, which is good to see.”

Warren and Welbon have praised members such as Audrey Woolever, who became a kobudo state champion and nearly won her kata division, and Trinity Goodson, who the coaches said has made great progress since January and will compete in the 9-10 female beginner kata division in this week’s tournament.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to believe in yourself and have self-confidence,” Goodson said.

Nationals begin today and will be held through June 30 at the Broward County Convention Center.


* indicates Nationals team member

Alexander Guiterrez (11-12 Male Beginner)*
April McCollum (7-8 Female Beginner)*
Audrey Woolever (17-18 Female Intermediate)
Bennett Cruse (15-16 Male Intermediate)*
Brian Warren (Head Coach)*
Cadence Fortson (11-12 Female Beginner)*
Caitlin Rice (13-14 Female Novice)*
Cameron Turley (17-18 Male Advanced)
Chloe Dawson (9-10 Female Novice)*
Cody Barnes (13-14 Male Beginner)*
Darius Way (19-34 Male Advanced)*
Elijah West (11-12 Male Intermediate)*
Devan Jefferson (9-10 Male Novice)*
Emma Vick (9-10 Female Novice)*
Fred Tomlin (7-8 Male Beginner)*
Grady Coffey (11-12 Male Novice)*
Jacob Newman (9-10 Male Beginner)
Jakob Arnold (Assistant Coach)*
Jaxson Inzerillo (9-10 Male Intermediate)
Joey Spitler (15-16 Male Advanced) (Assistant Coach)*
Jordan Dyer (9-10 Female Novice)*
Jordan Smith (9-10 Female Intermediate)
Jose Martinez (11-12 Male Beginner)*
Jose Rodriquez (13-14 Male Intermediate)*
Jose Duenez (9-10 Male Beginner)
Julie Karlson (15-16 Female Advanced) (Assistant Coach)*
Layla Coffey (13-14 Female Novice)*
Levi DeGraaf (11-12 Male Intermediate)*
Maddie Watson (11-12 Female Intermediate)
McKenna Mays (15-16 Female Intermediate) (Assistant Coach)*
Nick Karlson (13-14 Male Advanced)
Nikolai Townsend (11-12 Male Novice)*
Paul Rice (15-16 Male Intermediate)*
Rylie Roark (13-14 Female Intermediate)
Skye Diaz (11-12 Female Beginner)
Sydney Swartman (15-16 Female Advanced) (Assistant Coach)*
Trinity Goodson (9-10 Female Beginner)*
Vincent Yang (11-12 Male Beginner)

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

See All Articles by Justin

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