There was a Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club gold rush Monday as Team Southwest athletes found the podium in almost every Saskatchewan Winter Games individual weight category.
Team Southwest rushed to the Vanier podium over and over as they finished with five golds, four silver medals and five bronze to finish off a 14 medal day, better than any other team.
Team River West was second with eight medals - three gold, three silver and two bronze.
Moose Jaw's Brock Pearson finished with gold in Male 60 kilogram weight division as a fill-in athlete no less, as he failed to crack Team Southwest.
At the Sask Winter Games, teams with a number of athletes exceeding the number of permitted entries in a sport can use some of their athletes to "fill" in for other regions with lower numbers.
"If I worked a bit harder, I probably wouldn't have been a fill, but I prevailed still," he said shortly after his gold medal victory against Team Lakeland's Maison Mitchell from Prince Albert.
Pearson admitted that he came out sluggish against Mitchell, but righted the ship after the opening minutes thanks to some reinforcement from coach Garth Rivers.
"(He told me) not to follow him, because every time (Mitchell) won, he got the guy to follow him and then he threw him so I tried not to do that," said Pearson.
Mitchell grabbed Pearson's pants while standing up, which is a big no-no in the world of judo and was disqualified as a result.
To get to the gold medal match, Pearson tangled with training partner and fellow Moose Jaw club member Adam Langdon in a back and fourth match.
Langdon had a half-point on Pearson but after a beautifully executed sweeping hip throw, or harai goshi to win the match, Pearson said it was out of desperation in attempts to swing the match in his favour.
"By the end of the fight, it was a last ditch effort because he had a few points on me," Pearson said. "I just went for it, tried something different and got it. I fight him all the time so I try to remember what I do most. One of my coaches told me not to follow the same patterns because he's really good at adapting."
Langdon ended up with a bronze medal and beat Team Regina's Daniel Horvey in the process.
Rebecca Hanson overcame a nemesis in her search for gold as she solved the puzzle that is Kenadee Thompson from Regina in the Female 55 kg weight division, somebody she's faced many times in various judo tournaments, but had never beaten until Monday.
"I just trained harder and believed in myself," said Hanson.
Hanson was momentarily confused during the fight by listening to the crowd.
"When I threw her and I got on the ground, I heard somebody yell 'get up' because I thought she had the point, but I saw it was my point," said Hanson.
On Tuesday, the team competitions will take place at Vainer and both Pearson and Hanson are ready for the challenge.
"I think Moose Jaw will win, of course," said Pearson.
The other gold medalists for Team Southwest are Theodoris Hantjidis, Dez Henrikson and Haley Walz.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald February 16, 2010