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Siblings claim national judo titles

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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Folsom was proudly represented at the USA Judo Youth and Scholastics National Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich., on the weekend of April 2-3 — in particular, the Booth family. Curtis Booth, 12, a seventh grader from Sutter Middle School and his younger sister Ashley, 9, of Sandra J. Gallardo Elementary took home top honors for their respective age divisions. This is nothing new for the Booths, as it was Ashley’s second consecutive national title while Curtis completed a three-peat in the tournament as one of the younger competitors in his division. After the brother-sister combo won each of their respective tournaments, Curtis and Ashley’s father Alan had to pinch himself. “I asked myself, ‘Am I dreaming right now?’” explained Booth, a business systems analyst from Folsom. “It was almost surreal. It took a day or two for it to really sink in and hit me.” Curtis, who likes to cross-train as a wrestler to improve his groundwork, placed first out of 10 opponents from across the country-much of whom were unable to score a single point against him. Alan said that Curtis was “on his game, bringing the pain” throughout the tournament. “(Curtis) just seems to get better and stronger each year that he competes. When he was beating kids that were six and seven pounds heavier than him, a light bulb went on in my head and I thought, ‘hey, we may be on to something here’.” Ashley, who just celebrated her second straight national championship, beat out a field of five kids in the 9-10 year old intermediate division. Like her big brother, she too went most of the tournament without being scored upon. “It’s kind of like the situation where the older brother always beats up on the younger sibling and it makes the younger one tougher,” said a chuckling Alan. “Curtis has been great and also very patient in showing Ashley the ropes. As a parent, it’s been amazing.” The Booths credited South Bay Judo Club instructor Alan Honda for much of their success, adding that his guidance has been “a blessing”. Up next for the two siblings is preparation for the Junior Olympics, held on July 22-24 in Irving, Texas.