Sunday, April 11, 2004

11-year-old gets her kicks with martial arts triumphs


Good Sports: Christina Ates Gipson/W.Chester

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Elementary student by day, karate whiz by night. It's all in a day's work for this 11-year-old black belt, who touts one of the highest titles in the youth world: World Champion.

Meet Christina Ates Gipson, extreme martial artist extraordinaire.

"The first time I ever saw (martial arts) was when I was 3 years old," she said. "I liked that you could kick up high and do all kinds of different tricks. I knew it was something I wanted to do."

Gipson, fifth grader at Union Elementary School in West Chester, has won the 10-11 age group in three tournaments since March 20 and is aiming for a 2004 World Champion moniker. For the year 2003, she was ranked fifth in Youth Fighting, 9-and-under girls by the North American Sport Karate Association. The top 10 are considered World Champions.

Michelle Ates, Christina's mother and head instructor at Liv-

in' 4HIM Extreme Martial Arts in West Chester, said she took a karate class at the University of Cincinnati in 1989 and fell in love with the sport.

"I took the class and that was it," Ates said. "It was something I knew I'd like to keep doing."

She and her husband, assistant instructor Walter Randolph, teach on weeknights and weekends when they're not taking Christina to tournaments across the country.

Christina dabbles in traditional martial arts forms, creative forms (incorporating more than one art), musical forms (creative forms set to music) and extreme forms (involving acrobatics). She excels in the creative and musical forms.

"It's very competitive, but it's also fun," said Christina, who trains four hours a day, five days a week.

Michelle Ates said it's been a tiring month for her daughter, who won her age division in open forms at the Region 8 Nationals in Dayton March 20. Christina took first in the same category and division at the Alabama Karate Circuit Double Points National Championship in Huntsville March 27, and won 13-and-under musical forms at the Collierville Classic National Championship in Tennessee April 3.

She was so impressive in Collierville that she was dubbed Junior Black Belt Grand Champion - beating all the musical forms competitors aged 17 and younger.

"She's an aggressive girl, a real offensive player," said Ken Eubanks, vice president of NASKA and president of the Regional Sport Karate Circuit.

Christina will compete in Mississippi and Quebec this month. Though she loves the sport, she said she makes time for other things she likes, like "basketball and writing poetry."

But karate, Christina said, always comes first.

"I'm proud that I made my goal of being in the Top 10 in the world," she said. "This year I want to make it in the top five again."

Lizzy Mazzaro & Jake Tamaska /Taylor High School

For the second straight year, Mazzaro won the 125-pound weight class among Divisions IV, V and VI competitors at the State Powerlifting Meet in Kenton, Ohio, on March 20. Mazzaro set a state record by squatting 295 pounds. She also broke the dead-lift record at 290 pounds, and bench-pressed 115 pounds, for a total of 700 pounds - 80 pounds better than the second-place finisher.

"I didn't know what kind of competition to expect," said Mazzaro, who transferred from Ross last year after winning the state title in the Divisions I-III meet. "But I'm glad I did it."

Tamaska placed second in the 185-pound class, benching 275 pounds, squatting 435, and deadlifting 470 for a total of 1,180 pounds.

The junior duo has moved on to the spring sports season, with Mazzaro running track and Tamaska playing baseball.

Tri-State Diving /Mason, Northern KY., Oxford

Local diving didn't miss a beat when the Cincinnati Stingray dissolved in August. Renamed Tri-State Diving, the elite diving team - consisting of boys and girls aged 9 to 18 - was broken into three satellite locations and coached by Paul Glassman, Lori Rapp and Todd Spohn. After the Winter Regional meets, several divers have qualified for the East Nationals in Moultrie, Ga., and the West Nationals in San Antonio, Texas, both April 23-25. Hannah Gadd (Highlands) will compete in 1-meter diving, with Amanda Maschinot (Campbell County, Ky.) and Michael Grainger (Indian Hill) competing on the 3-meter. Kristyn Persinger (Liberty, Ind.), Izzi Krombholz (Indian Hill), Nicole Brehm (West Chester), Nathan Conway (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy), Scott Kelley (Delhi), Evan Stowers (Simon Kenton), Brittany Hill (Indian Hill) and Jen Funch (Ursuline) qualified on both boards.

A.J. Cohen Memorial Tournament/Summit Country Day

The third annual A.J. Cohen Memorial Baseball Tournament, held April 4 in honor of the Summit Country Day student-athlete killed in a house fire at the University of Dayton in 2000, raised $4,500. The proceeds supplement the A.J. Cohen Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides a student with the opportunity to attend Summit Country Day. The Cincinnati Country Day varsity baseball team won the four-team tournament.




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11-year-old gets her kicks with martial arts triumphs
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