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Karate Students’ Sacrifice Lead to Success at USA Karate Nationals

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Karate Students’ Sacrifice Lead to Success at USA Karate Nationals

Ashley

 2018 National Competitors from ISKC after their final training before competing.

2018 National Competitors from ISKC after their final training before competing.

The Land of Lincoln has several claims to fame: the majestic Chicago skyline, the 90’s era Chicago Bulls, O’Hare International Airport (one of the world’s largest and busiest airports), Portillo’s Italian beef, and an infinite amount of corn fields. Now, Illinois can also add 20 USA Karate National Champions to its list of notables.

While the rest of society was relaxing and easing into summer, 160 karate athletes from Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs were kicking their training into high gear to prepare for the 2018 USA Karate National Championships & Team Trials on July 10-15.

The annual tournament, which is described as the most prestigious karate event in the United States, spans over four days and draws more than 1,500 competitors from across the country. This year, the event took place at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.

Many travel to this tournament because it offers karate-ka the rare opportunity to test their craft at a national level, while also giving them the chance to earn the coveted title of a National Champion.

John DiPasquale, Chief Karate Instructor at ISKC and President of USA Karate Federation, led his group of Chicagoland karate students, along with seven coaches and referees. DiPasquale, himself, is a four-time national champion and has a strong record of helping develop national champions within his club.

This year alone, the ISKC team returned from Reno with 102 medals consisting of 20 gold, 22 silver, and 60 bronze. 21 of those athletes earned a spot on the Junior U.S. Karate Team and will represent the United States at the Pan American Karate Federation Junior and Cadet Championships on August 20-26 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ISKC also had 14 athletes qualify for the U.S. Senior Team Trials, which will take place at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in January.

“[ISKC] is the premier [karate] club in the country,” DiPasquale said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that Chicagoland has an abundance of high quality athletes and is a mecca for good karate, therefore, the local competition tends to create strong competitors at the national level, which has been a big contributor to our students’ success over the years.”

Attending the nationals has become a treasured tradition at ISKC. Over the years, as the club’s numbers, reputation, and talent has grown, so has the number of athletes they have had represent them at each national tournament.

 19-year-old Chandler Ury

19-year-old Chandler Ury

19-year-old Chandler Ury, pictured in the photo to the left, has been competing at the nationals for the past 11 years.

 

“At this point [Nationals] has become the highlight of my summer,” the second degree black belt said. “I look forward to it every year.”

 

In preparation for the big event, Ury and her teammates underwent a rigorous training regiment, which included daily workouts, a clean diet, and even saying goodbye to their beloved social media.

 

“I’m constantly impressed with the sacrifices our athletes make each summer,” ISKC Coach Brian Mertel said. “They practice two or three times per day, often waking up before the sun, they give up social media, and cut out useless foods, then they travel to major competitions and have to deal with the tremendous pressure that comes with the tournament.

 

Though the prep can be grueling, Ury said her teammates help one another push through.

“Having such a close team that has been built over the years has helped because you have people by your side who are going through the same thing emotionally and physically,” she said. “You don’t understand until you truly endure it yourself.”

For Ury, her sacrifice and hard work paid off when she made it to the finals in both her Junior Elite Team Trial division and the -50 kg Senior Team Trial Division.

“This was my second year trying out [for the US Senior Team]” Ury said. “Last year, I didn’t expect much going into it for the senior division, but this year, because I already knew what to expect, I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to make the finals.”

Ury’s final match resulted in a 6-6 tie when time ran out. However, due to a rule called Senshu, the win went to her opponent since she had scored the first point. Though, not all was lost because Ury still scored an invitation to the U.S. Team Trials and a spot on the Junior Team which she will compete with at the Pan American Karate Federation Junior and Cadet Championships on August 20-26 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ury said she plans to learn from her mistakes and use this experience to help her in Brazil and at the Team Trials in January.

In addition to Ury, 29 ISKC students also earned a spot on either the Junior Team or the opportunity to compete at the Senior Team Trials.

Qualifiers for the Junior Team:

●      Daylan Berger

●      Daniru Dharmaratne

●      Dasuni Dharmaratne

●      Enzo Floresca

●      Ann Hsieh

●      Linus Jens

●      Simon Jens

●      Tobias Jens

●      Cirrus Lingl

●      Skylar Lingl

●      Kylie Mahoney

●      Kassidy Mahoney

●      Madison Malone

●      Marciela Moss

●      Caitlyn Pagan

●      Dorian Pajor

●      Thomas Pappalardo

●      Sean Quiroz

●      Amanchand Thotakura

●      Chandler Ury

●      Zachary Ury

●      Magdalena Zucek

 

Qualifiers for the Senior Team Trials include:

●      Noah Frisvold

●      William Gatch

●      Ann Hsieh

●      Ellora Jaggi

●      Linus Jens

●      Cirrus Lingl

●      Skylar Lingl

●      Kassidy Mahoney

●      Madison Malone

●      Zach Moseley

●      Nolan O’Rear

●      Thomas Pappalardo

●      Erica Simmerman

●      Chandler Ury