Edwards is local club's athlete of the year

Matthew Gourlie
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Judo competitor overcame injury; headed to junior nationals

A year ago Tallissa Edwards won a purple heart award at the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club's annual awards.

The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club award winners were Sara Wiens, left, Brooke German, Carter Craik, Tallissa Edwards and BrookeLyn Henrickson.

This year Edwards won their Judoka of the Year.

Those two awards nicely bookend two seasons that saw her recover from a serious injury and return to national-level competiton.

"I was throwing my coach and I popped my elbow out and tore some ligaments. It's taken awhile to get back," said Edwards who feels she's back at 100 per cent. "It hurts every once in awhile, but that's an injury. I was talking to the specialist and he said: 'you're going to either keep dislocating it or you're going to have to quit.' You know what? You only live once."

The 17-year-old Edwards earned a spot on the provincial team and is the only Koseikan competitor who is headed to the Canadian Junior Nationals in Saguenay, Que. next week.

"I am super pumped about nationals," said Edwards who is making her third trip to junior nationals. "This one is back in Québec and usually the best competitors are in Québec so I expect it's going to be a good year."

Edwards won her first match during her debut trip the nationals. That is still her best performance in her two trips.

"It's going to be a hard tournament, but I'll definitely be getting the most of the training camp that follows the tournament," said Edwards.

While she is looking forward to the national team training camp that follows, she is hoping to have a good tournament as well, but admits it's hard to know what to expect until you get to the competition.

"It's hard to say because so much can change with the draw," she said.

Koseikan coach Jim Wiens felt that Edwards was well deserving of being named the club's top competitor for the season.

"(Edwards) had a great tournament record, measured in volume of matches, diversity of competition levels and a high quality level of both training and (competition)," said Wiens.

Sara Wiens was named the Koseikan club's Most Improved athlete.

"This athlete works hard every day and I don't think they even notice how much they're improving," said coach Dan Orescanin as he presented the award. "They're getting better with their technique and not just using their strength."

The club also handed out Spirit of Judo awards to Carter Craik, Brooke German and BrookeLyn Henrickson.

Four of the five award winners Friday were girls.

"There's always that stigma of females getting into a physical sport like judo, but they proved to themselves and everybody in the province that they can compete," said Wiens.

The awards night caps off the season for the local club. Their older, elite athletes will continue to train in the summer, but most of the club members will return in the fall.

"It's been a really good year for the club," said Wiens. "For our younger athletes this is the biggest class we've had."

While they had more young novice competitors than usual, Wiens was happy with what their older athletes achieved this season as well.Edwards

"We probably had fewer entries into competition than we've had in previous years, but the level of competition has been just as high or higher than it ever has been," said Wiens.

In addition to the awards the club also handed out their belt promotions and for the first time in club history all of the athletes that challenged for their next belt earned it.

Vernon MacDonald successfully challenged for his Nidan — his second degree black belt.

Organizations: Canadian Junior Nationals

Geographic location: Québec, Saguenay

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