One Red Oak 15-year-year old has kicked her way into the upcoming Junior Pan American Karate Championships as a member of Team USA.
And it won't be the first, or even second time, for the karate athlete to represent the red, white and blue.
Sarah Stallings accomplished the latest feat by winning the gold medal in the plus-59-kilogram 16-17-year-old Elite Female Kumite Division during the United States National Karate Federation National Championships and Team Trials held in Chicago. The championships concluded July 14.
Her first-place finish in an Elite division was an automatic qualifier for the Junior PKF Championships to be held Aug. 26-Sept. 2 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
In her official Team USA bio, Stallings called the win the "biggest win" of her young, budding career.
"The Junior National team consists of the best athletes, ages 12-20, who will represent the United States in this prestigious international event," states the Team USA website.
Stallings will be joined by Natasha Kudelya, Magdalena Zucek and Abigail Johnson on the plus-59-kilogram 16-17-year-old female Kumite squad for Team USA.
For Stallings, this trip will be her third to the Junior PFK Championships as a member of Team USA. She first made the national team — twice — in 2017 in the 12-13 Female Elite Kumite plus-47kg and in the Female Team Kata.
According to her father, Pat, Stallings began studying karate at Red Oak's Martial Arts Experience with Sensei Anthony Hare in 2011.
She then began training with Sensei's George Trevino Jr., George Trevino Sr. and William Shelton at the American Karate Academy in Duncanville, ultimately earning her black belt and first-degree black belt.
Stallings eventually earned a second-degree black belt in Ferris under the guidance of Sensei's Kristi Shawky and Sam Hale.
Stallings is currently studying Shito-Ryu karate under Shihan Shelton in Houston and will also represent Team USA in the Junior. World Karate Championships to be held later this year in Chile.
"I love the feeling I get right before I step onto the tatami and the excitement of competing in both Kata and Kumite," Stallings states in her Team USA bio. "[...] I get my inspiration from my faith in God, from family and friends, and from Shihan Raul Shelton."
And for Stallings, the inspiration does not stop with a sensei, trainer or coach.
My dad is my real-life hero because he has been a police officer for more than 30 years and he has saved the lives of many people," Stallings stated. "He also works very hard, so I can train and travel overseas to compete. He comes to every tournament that he can, and he supports me and several other karate athletes. My dad is truly awesome!"
To follow along with Stallings and Team USA, or to sign up for email updates, visit www.teamusa.org.