Balanay accomplishes four-time slam

Amanda Muramoto, editor

On May 7, high school judo players from around the state came to the Stan Sheriff Center to fight for the top spot in their respective weight class. For senior Brittany Balanay, it was the day she accomplished her goal– to become a four-time state champion. By the end of the day-long competition, five judoka, or judo students, from McKinley High School placed. That magical moment when the referee’s arm shoot up and declared “Ippon!”, indicated that Balanay had won the match, and had a new title under her name. Usually, one would expect someone who won such an honor to jump with joy and a big smile on their face. But Balanay didn’t do that. She congratulated her opponent and gave her a hug to show how much she appreciated her final match. Once she stepped off the mat, she did jump into the coach’s arms. Later that night, Balanay said that she was still shocked to have accomplished her goal, and hoped for others to reach their dreams too. The other Tiger judoka who placed in the state competition was sophomore Marina Higa, who placed second in the 98 weight class. Junior Marissa Rogers received her second state champion title, and senior Ayame Higa placed third in the 115 weight division. The only boy to place from McKinley was senior Bradley Suda in the boys 114 weight division.