With his football plans at University of Idaho put on hold until January, former Kamiakin quarterback Zach Borisch has been keeping in shape on the judo mat.
Borisch, competing for Team USA, earned a bronze medal Saturday at the Flanders Cup in Lommel, Belgium.
“It was a fun time,” Borisch said. “I had never been to Europe before. Honestly, I wish I would have gotten to see more, but we were in an athlete’s village and we were kind of closed off. They bussed us everywhere.
“It was the nicest place I’ve been to. It was so clean. I went to Argentina last winter; South America is dirty.”
Borisch, who competed at 90 kilos (198 pounds) in the cadet division (18-21 years old), was hand-picked by Teams USA coach Bret Wolf for the tournament.
“You have to be ranked in the top five in the country to be eligible to go,” Borisch said. “Coach Wolf chose me at the 90 kilos. This was the first time the Unites States took a team to the Flanders Cup. We had two girls place, and I placed third. Everyone won at least one match, which is good at an international competition. Not a bad showing.”
The Flanders Cup featured 800 judokas from more than 20 countries. Each weight class had four pools of five athletes. From there, the top two moved on to the main bracket.
“I won my pool against some really tough kids, and a kid from Great Britain took second,” said Borisch, who went 4-1 on the day. “There were some really good kids there. I didn’t think I would do that well. I had a quick arm bar to start my first match, and I had two really good throws in the first 15 seconds against my next two opponents. It could not have been more perfect.”
Borisch advanced to the semifinals, where he lost his match, and his lunch.
“I puked,” he said. “It might have been because I was sick last week before I left, but I also got popped in the sternum. It sucks. It kept me from the finals.”
Borisch made sure he put University of Idaho on the map in Belgium, wearing an Idaho sweatshirt at the tournament.
“I report in January, and I am so ready to go to school,” said Borisch, who noted that Idaho coach Paul Petrino supported his judo adventure. “They commended me for doing this. They like people who do extra stuff in their program. It helped keep me in shape.”