SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- Shintaro Higashi is progressing exactly how he would like as the World Judo Championships approach -- he is rising in the world rankings.
The 2003 Scarsdale graduate recently returned from two judo tournaments in preparation for the World Championships. Higashi amassed major points, which catapulted him from 59th to 45th in the world in the 220-pound weight class. He finished third in Miami, giving him 40 points and was seventh in Venezuela, adding 17 more points to his total.
Higashi, who lives and trains in Massachusetts, is currently home, for a week training at Total Form Fitness.
It feels amazing to be home and to train with people I have worked with before, said Higashi, who is tending to a slight shoulder injury.
Higashi was especially pleased with his performance in Miami. After losing his first match to European champion Amel Mekic of Bosnia, Higashi rebounded to beat Stefan Zwiers of Canada and Jose Boissard of the Dominican Republic.
I was very upset, at first, to lose my first match, but I knew I had to regroup. I put the loss in the back of my mind and it fueled me to go back out and win, he said.
Higashi felt he did not establish his offense against Mekic, but his opponent contributed to that. His next two opponents were different from a style standpoint, which made Higashi amend his strategy on both.
I had to use different tactics against them, said Higashi, who was also a 2003 Section 1 wrestling champion. The Canadian was very tall, 6-foot-3, and very strong. He kept coming over my back and trying to pull me in. I had to control his right hand and keep it off of my back. I had to move a lot more, get under him and keep my hips low. I was able to do this and control the match.