By Brandi Makuski
Three local judo students are headed back from an international competition.
Students Joey Hetzel, of the Stevens Point Judo Club, and Shandra Smith and Adam Stevenson, of the Fox Valley Judo Club, represented the United States at the International Judo Federation Veterans World Judo Championships (IJF Worlds) in Amsterdam on Thursday, Sept. 24.
Hetzel is a brown belt who has twice competed at the national level and participated with the blessing of her senseis Tom Gustin and Jim Weidner.
A total of over 1,200 judo players, or judoka, from across the world registered to compete.
Hetzel showed a solid performance but was ultimately eliminated in her second fight by Claudia Loos from Austria, who went on to win gold.
Stevenson was eliminated in his first fight after keeping his opponent on the defensive for nearly all of their three-minute match.
Smith was eliminated in her third fight, earning a bronze medal, tied for third place with a competitor from France.
Hetzel said she was disappointed in her final standing but pleased with her performance overall.
“It’s a whole different game than national championships,” said Hetzel. “I thought I would do better than I did today, but this gives me a good outlook on where I need my judo to go in the future.”
Hetzel, along with Smith and Stevenson, said they were already planning to train for next year’s IJF in Florida.
“It’ll be a much cheaper trip,” Hetzel said, adding it would easier for friends and family to attend.
Hetzel held a successful online fundraising campaign to raise money to offset the cost of the overseas trip. Her sponsors included the Portage County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Stevens Point Police Department, Stevens Point Judo Club, Thought Police, Fox Valley Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, Crossfit Stevens Point, Rural Mutual Insurance (Post Road Plover), Wisconsin Budokai Karate, Live Wire Communications and Rasmussen Heating and Plumbing.