When Jason Morris takes his United States Olympic judo team to China this summer, he may be bringing some of his Jason Morris Judo Center students with him.
Fourteen JMJC members are ranked nationally in the top eight of their weight classes, which earns them automatic berths into next month's U.S. team trials in Las Vegas. Two of them Jeremy Liggett (Glenville) and Hannah Martin (Schenectady) are Capital District natives, while the rest hail from across the country.
Morris said he's happy to be bringing a large contingent from his Glenville center to the U.S. team trials.
"There won't be a group message," said Morris. "There will be a lot of individual messages because everybody is young, and they're at different parts of their careers."
How young? Six of the 14 JMJC students currently in contention for the trials have not reached their 20th birthdays yet. Two of them " Angela Creutzberger and Kyle Vashkulat " are 17 years old.
"From the time I started, I always wanted to (go to the Olympics), but it didn't seem possible," said Creutzberger, who joined JMJC last year after moving from New Jersey to Morris' Glenville home. "Now that I'm here, I want it so bad."
"I'm still young, and I know I have a lot ahead of me," added Vashkulat, who moved to the United States from Ukraine seven years ago. "Of course it would be great to make the team, but I'm going for the experience."
Creutzberger (48 kilograms), Vashkulat (100kg) and much of the rest of the JMJC members currently ranked in the top eight will have no room for error at the team trials. Unless they're ranked No. 1 in their weight classes, a loss will knock them out of contention. The top-ranked athletes in each weight class can lose once without being eliminated.