Stanfield’s Eastern Oregon Family Taekwondo sent 18 kids to compete at the 11th annual Battle on the Columbia, and brought home some gold.
Hermiston’s own Chris Godby, 12, took first in sparring and won the grand championship title, and Anais Garcia, 7, also won first in sparring and the grand championship title.
“I was so impressed,” said Eastern Oregon Family Taekwondo co-instructor Erwin Watson. “You get to the point where you watch them and you get goosebumps. It’s a great thing to hear your kids’ names announced as winners. It was the only time I was able to hear how good they did at the competition. It was good to hear their names on the intercom.”
Godby and Garcia weren’t the only ones to bring home top honors at the Richland-hosted tournament.
Kiona Idris, 15, won first in the weapons and padded weapons competitions, as well as second-place finishes in forms and sparring. Jordan Velasco, 7, took first in weapons. Luciano Zavala and Jezly Higereda, 6, both took first in sparring.
Kristian Cardenas, 8, claimed first in padded weapons, as well as second in both sparring and weapons. Abel Garcia, 11, also took home a first-place trophy for his performance in the padded weapons category, along with second-place finishes in forms and sparring.
Iria Lissman won first in forms and second in sparring, Ervin Higereda, 8, won a pair of first-place trophies in sparring and padded weapons, and Samuel Godby, 9, placed first in padded weapons.
Watson said his team’s showing at the recent Richland tournament was a display of the progress the team had made since the beginning of the year.
“I don’t get a lot of kids at the beginning of the year who want to go out to these tournaments,” he said. “But when they see other kids come home with medals, it boosts their interest. Now these kids are ready for the next tournament. They got the taste of it. Now they know what it feels like to be winners. They’re hooked on it. It’s great.”
Watson, who co-owns the Stanfield-based taekwondo program alongside his wife Lorry, said that his team’s tournament turnouts have doubled since the start of the year.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” he said. “I was impressed with every single one of them.”
The Watsons and their team will have a bit of a break until their next competition, which is scheduled for November, and will take place at Mount Hood Community College in Portland.