Archive for Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Three-peat defender

August 13, 2003

About the only things Colten Weaver has lost in the past couple years are two front teeth.

Colten -- who if you ask how old he is will tell you 6 1/2 -- has three state titles under his now-red belt. And, in that short time, he's been undefeated in tae kwon do competition.

With a smile that's waiting on two permanent teeth to fill in, Colten talked about why he became involved with the martial arts.

"So I could take care of my sister," Colten said, referring to Micaela Weaver, who is 4 years old.

As a red belt, big brother probably would make a reliable bodyguard for Micaela someday.

After already attaining white, yellow, green and blue belts, Colten has one left -- the black belt.

But Rex Hutton, who is Colten's master at the Tonganoxie Martial Arts Academy, wants Colten to take some time before attempting that feat.

"At his age it's going to be another year or two," Hutton said.

But on the other hand, Hutton said he's never seen someone of Colten's age progress so quickly in two years.

"He's just a talented, athletically inclined kid," Hutton said. "He's good at about whatever he does.

"He just goes up there and he's a real high kicker. The kid adapts. You tell him what to do and he's just a natural."

The state tae kwon do championships are held in conjunction with the Sunflower State Games. After Colten won the past two years at a Lawrence venue, the event moved last month to Whiting Fieldhouse on the Washburn University campus in Topeka where Colten completed the three-peat.

Grandmother Sharon Hughes, who usually takes Colten to his competitions, said her grandson is all business.

"They laugh because when he's in class he has fun," Sharon said. "But when he goes to competitions, he's all serious."

Ready to turn 7 in about a month, Colten is an active child.

Already involved in dance for four years, Colten has participated in hip-hop, tumbling and tap. A slight influence in that department comes from his mother, Rhonda McHenry, who has been a dance instructor at The Dance Gallery in Lawrence for 15 years.

Colten has stayed busy with dance, tae kwon do, soccer and T-ball, although, sometimes he has to choose one activity over the others.

"It killed Kirk that he had to tell his soccer coach he had to miss his final soccer game because he had a dance recital," Rhonda said about her husband, Kirk McHenry.

But no matter what the sport or physical activity, Colten is on the go -- something Sharon and Dick Hughes know all to well.

"If he had his way, he'd play soccer, T-ball and tae kwon do all day long," Sharon said. "He's all boy and just loves sports.

"He's hard to keep up with. We have to double-team him because he wears us out."

Although baseball is his favorite sport, the youngster's athletic aspirations don't stop on the diamond -- Colten wants to try sand volleyball and football. But those sports probably will be explored down the road, especially football, according to his mother. Rhonda was a cheerleader at Lawrence High, while Kirk played basketball and football at McLouth.

Colten could play Kirk's sports down the road, but his focus now -- to the tune of five times per week in Hutton's academy -- is set on tae kwon do.

And instruction goes beyond kicks and punches.

"He teaches them respect," Kirk said. "Don't be using this anywhere else."

On one occasion, however, Colten almost did.

Every Halloween, the family visits friends in Shawnee for the October holiday. While making a jaunt through the neighborhood, Colten passed a house decorated to the brim for Halloween, including a hearse in the driveway. But from the hearse a boy wearing a mask and carrying a knife lunged from the car and came toward Colten.

As Hutton has taught his students that tae kwon do also is a form of self-defense, Colten put his fists up and took a step back.

"I went running, 'No Colten! No Colten!'" Rhonda said.

But Colten's mother had nothing to worry about -- Colten didn't display any moves. Once he settled into his stance, the "attacker" stood motionless.

Competition-wise, Colten will compete in various tournaments before he defends his title at the Sunflower State Games next July in Topeka.

His master says he's naturally athletic, his grandmother knows he's full of energy and his mother sees an intense focus in his eyes.

But Colten will tell you the real secret to his streak of success.

"Because I've tried hard," he said.

But on the other hand, Hutton said he's never seen someone of Colten's age progress so quickly in two years.

"He's just a talented, athletically inclined kid," Hutton said. "He's good at about whatever he does.

"He just goes up there and he's a real high kicker. The kid adapts. You tell him what to do and he's just a natural."

The state tae kwon do championships are held in conjunction with the Sunflower State Games. After Colten won the past two years at a Lawrence venue, the event moved last month to Whiting Fieldhouse on the Washburn University campus in Topeka where Colten completed the three-peat.

Grandmother Sharon Hughes, who usually takes Colten to competitions, said her grandson is all business.

"They laugh because when he's in class he has fun," Sharon said. "But when he goes to competitions, he's all serious."

Ready to turn 7 in about a month, Colten is an active child.

Already involved in dance for four years, Colten has participated in hip-hop, tumbling and tap. A slight influence in that department comes from his mother, Rhonda McHenry, who has been a dance instructor at The Dance Gallery in Lawrence for 15 years.

Colten has stayed busy with dance, tae kwon do, soccer and T-ball, although, sometimes he has to choose one activity over the others.

"It killed Kirk that he had to tell his soccer coach he had to miss his final soccer game because he had a dance recital," Rhonda said about her husband, Kirk McHenry.

But no matter what the sport or physical activity, Colten is on the go -- something Sharon and Dick Hughes know all to well.

"If he had his way, he'd play soccer, T-ball and tae kwon do all day long," Sharon said. "He's all boy and just loves sports.

"He's hard to keep up with. We have to double-team him because he wears us out."

Although baseball is his favorite sport, the youngster's athletic aspirations don't stop on the diamond -- Colten wants to try sand volleyball and football.

Rhonda was a cheerleader at Lawrence High, while Kirk played basketball and football at McLouth.

Colten could play Kirk's sports down the road, but his focus now -- to the tune of five times per week in Hutton's academy -- is set on tae kwon do.

And instruction goes beyond kicks and punches.

"He teaches them respect," Kirk said. "Don't be using this anywhere else."

On one occasion, however, Colten almost did.

Every Halloween, the family visits friends in Shawnee. While trick or treating, Colten passed a house decorated for Halloween with a hearse in the driveway. A boy wearing a mask and carrying a knife lunged from the car toward Colten. As Hutton has taught his students that tae kwon do also is a form of self-defense, Colten put his fists up and took a step back.

"I went running, 'No Colten! No Colten!'" Rhonda said.

But Colten's mother had nothing to worry about -- Colten didn't display any moves. Once he settled into his stance, the "attacker" stood motionless.

Competition-wise, Colten will compete in various tournaments before he defends his title at the Sunflower State Games next July in Topeka.

His master says he's naturally athletic, his grandmother knows he's full of energy and his mother sees an intense focus in his eyes.

But Colten will tell you the real secret to his streak of success.

"Because I've tried hard," he said.

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