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Thu, March 21

Local trio makes impact at World Games

Here is a breakdown of how the trio fared:


Gina Soto:

The 16-year-old Green Belt (intermediate) is relatively new to the competition circuit. After starting her competitive career in 2002, she placed first and second in two events at the Red Rock Rampage in Sedona, then followed that up with a pair of thirds in the Kumite and Kata events at the State Championships in Phoenix earlier this year.

Soto then continued at the U.S. Southwest Regionals in Palm Springs, Calif. where she captured two second-place finishes in Kumite and Kata respectively.

Her success level didn't slow down in New Orleans where she won the Koshiki; was second best in the Kata; second in the Continuous Sparring; second in Team Sparring; second in Kumite and third in Chambara.

Sheila Howard and Lori Morris

The "Dynamic Duo" holds continuous first- and second-place finishes in nearly all events at both the State and World levels this year.

Since 2000 the fighting moms have had to battle each other at the Prescott school for top placings.

The 39-year-old Morris is a Brown Belt (advanced). She began competing in a multitude of small Dojo Tournaments around Arizona and placed regularly.

Morris competed in the Arizona State Championships in Phoenix in 1999 where she took second in Kumite and third in Kata.

She then proceeded to the 2000 Cactus Classics International Championships in Phoenix where she finished second in both of the aforementioned disciplines.

She then participated in the Southwest Regional Championships in Palm Springs where she garnered two more second places before winning the State Kata title in 2001 and finishing third in the Kumite.

Her success continued through 2002 before culminating this year at the World Championships in New Orleans with second places in Continuous Sparring and Chambara, thirds in Kata and Team Sparring and fifth in Kumite.

Sheila Howard, a 36-year-old Brown Belt (Advanced) has traveled a similar path to Morris. She started Karate in 1999 before quickly rising to prominence by winning the Kata and Kumite events in the Arizona State Championships three years ago in Phoenix.

She has also won titles in the USKA Southwest Regionals (Kumite) in Palm Springs; the Japanese Karate Association Western U.S. Championships (Kumite) and the State Karate Alliance Tournament in both the Kata and Kumite.

Howard rested from competition in both 2001 and '02, but her return to form hasn't taken long.

In addition to winning the Kumite and Chambara World Championships in New Orleans recently, she also won the USKA National Kumite title in Albuquerque, the Southwest Regional Championships (Kumite) in Palm Springs and the Arizona State Championships (Kumite and Kata) in addition to several top four finishes in various events.


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