The local karate team won 45 total medals in last week’s national championship tournament in Fort Lauderdale.
Chris Welbon Karate Clubs’ competition team’s 2018 medal count of 332 was always going to be hard to top. Though the 2019 season wasn’t quite as successful on the regular-season front, the team put together a performance last week that well exceeded last year’s AAU Nationals effort.
The kids won 45 total medals, including 12 golds, at the 2019 AAU Karate National Championships in Fort Lauderdale from July 2-6. That brings the 2019 count to a solid 250.
“Sensei Welbon and myself are so proud of this team,” coach Brian Warren said. “We took 12 more medals than the 2018 Nationals, with eight of those additional medals being gold medals. I was not expecting this team to do this well. All of these students showed what hard work and perseverance can do. We had to improvise and adapt as well, as there were a couple of rule changes that were implemented. This team showed what they were truly capable of.”
Several of the competitors finished their stories of this season with notable endings.
Reise Elowsky, 9, for example, went from being a consistent third-place finisher in her first regular season to winning gold in kata, sanbon kumite and rotational team kumite.
“It was pretty much a surprise,” Elowsky said.
Elowsky’s favorite part of the tournament, though, was watching her sister (Reigahn) win three medals of her own.
Julie Karlson, 16, who is also an assistant coach for the team, qualified for Team USA in ISF/Olympic-style kumite with a silver medal. It’s the second consecutive Team USA qualification for Karlson, who typically specializes in kata.
“I wanted to place in kata, but there was tough competition,” Karlson said. “I guess the fire came into me once I didn’t place in kata. I went out there and I wanted a medal, so I had to go get it.”
Brendan McMurphy, 11, fractured his wrist two weeks prior to the tournament, which prevented him from competing in any kumite events. McMurphy put all his energy into kata instead of getting bummed out and giving up.
“I told myself that I wanted to win because I broke my arm, and it would be fun winning,” McMurphy said.
He finished with a hard-earned silver medal thanks to a strong comeback effort.
“He made it into the semifinals in the winner’s bracket and lost in that round, thus being placed into the loser’s bracket,” Warren said. “He stayed focused and won that bracket, earning him the chance to compete for the silver medal against the athlete who eliminated him in the winner’s bracket. He won the silver medal round, 3-0, completing the comeback.”
Emilio Guillen, 8, was also a first-time competitor at nationals and ended up with one gold and two silver medals. Described by Warren as one of the hardest workers on the team, Guillen was able to overcome his nervousness about competing in Fort Lauderdale for the first time and finish strong.
“When I saw people winning, I was getting confident that I could win,” Guillen said. “My favorite part was cheering for everyone so they could get a medal, too.”
TJ Bright (Male 7yr old Beginner): Gold – Kata and Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
Bennett Cruse (Male 16yr old Intermediate): Silver – Kobudo and Kata, Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
Chloe Dawson (Female 10yr old Intermediate): Silver – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite, Gold – Team Rotational Kumite
Jordan Dyer (Female 11yr old Intermediate): Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite and Team Rotational Kumite
Reigahn Elowsky (Female 11yr old Beginner): Silver – Kata and Sanbon (3 point) Kumite, Bronze – Rotational Team Kumite
Reise Elowsky (Female 9yr old Beginner): Gold – Kata, Sanbon (3 point) Kumite and Team Rotational Kumite
Cadence Fortson (Female 12yr old Novice): Bronze – Kobudo and Rotational Team Kumite, Gold – Kata and Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
Mason Green (Male 9yr old Beginner): Gold – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite, Silver – Team Rotational Kumite
Emilio Guillen (Male 8yr old Beginner): Gold – Kata, Silver – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite and Team Rotational Kumite
Alexander Gutierrez (Male 12yr old Novice): Gold – Kobudo and Silver – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
Devan Jefferson (Male 11yr old Intermediate): Bronze – Kobudo and Team Kobudo
Julie Karlson (Female 16yr old Advanced): Silver – ISF/Olympic Style Kumite
Nick Karlson (Male 15yr old Advanced): Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite and Team Rotational Kumite
McKenna Mays (Female 17yr old Advanced): Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
April McCollum (Female 9yr old Novice): Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite, Gold – Team Rotational Kumite
Brendan McMurphy (Male 11yr old Beginner): Silver – Kata
Jacob Newman (Male 10yr old Novice): Silver- Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
Joey Spitler (Male 16yr old Advanced): Bronze – Team Rotational Kumite
Eric Tomlin (Male 8yr old Beginner): Silver – Kata, Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite
Fred Tomlin (Male 9yr old Novice): Bronze – Sanbon (3 point) Kumite, Silver – Team Rotational Kumite
Nikolai Townsend (Male 13yr old Intermediate): Bronze – Kobudo, Sanbon (3 point) Kumite, Team Kobudo
Elijah West (Male 12yr old Advanced): Bronze – Team Kobudo
Levi Green (Male 7yr old Beginner)
Jose Rodriquez (Male 14yr old Advanced)
Darius Way (Male 18-34 Advanced).