ASIJ, St. Maur win relay, team competitions
ZUSHI, Japan – Depth, always a valued commodity for teams in any sport, proved to be the X factor that pushed American School In Japan and St. Maur International School cross country over the Far East meet finish line as the event’s new overall school champions, coaches said.
The Mustangs won Tuesday’s Division I team relay, which coupled with its boys team title on Monday gave ASIJ its first school banner in 16 years. The Cougars captured the Division II team relay, helping them repeat as overall champions following their girls team title on Monday.
It was ASIJ’s eighth overall title, but its first since 1998 and it came in the Mustangs’ first appearance at Far East since 2002.
“This was a great group of boys and girls,” ASIJ coach Ryosuke Suzuki said. “We picked the right year to come back to Far East. We’re happy to come back and perform as a team. A great way to end the season.”
It was an uncommonly deep Mustangs team, one that many coaches and observers said surpassed anything that any team has ever had in the more than 40-year history of the Kanto Plain league.
Led by junior Evan Yukevich and senior Willem Thorbecke, the Far East individual champion, ASIJ regularly placed five runners in the top 10 of the weekly Kanto Plain meets at Tama Hills Recreation Center.
ASIJ’s girls weren’t quite as deep, but regularly placed three runners, Lisa Watanuki, Tatiana Riordan and Emma Wingfield-Hayes, in top 10s of races, including Monday’s 3.12-mile Far East individual race at Camp Fuji.
St. Maur coach Ana Novick is used to similar Kanto Plain success, having run for the Cougars from 2005-08, when she became the first girls runner to clock the 2.1-mile Tama course in under 13 minutes.
She also possessed depth in the boys ranks, a group of seven led by fourth-place Far East runner Riki Khorana, who trained together and were as close as any group she says she can remember. “You never knew from week to week” who would place highest for the Cougars, she said.
Her girls group wasn’t quite as deep, but they were stronger than last year’s, and led by two-time Far East individual champion Lucille Nunnely, they easily outdistanced their competition on Monday, setting the stage for the team relay victory.
“I’m really pleased with the results,” Novick said.
Few DODDS players remain in tennis brackets
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Grace Cho of Seoul American was the last DODDS tennis player standing in the Far East tournament’s main singles brackets as the four-day tournament hits the home stretch.
All DODDS boys players were eliminated in Tuesday’s quarterfinals; Cho beat ASIJ’s Erin Black 8-1 in the girls quarters. She’ll face Kanto tournament champion Matilde Piras of Seisen International in Wednesday’s semifinals.
Mixed doubles may provide the best hope for DODDS players. Seoul American’s Joshua Gagnet and Annie Yeom face ASIJ’s Kaisei Sato and last year’s champion Nana Yoshimura in one semifinal and Kubasaki’s Mark Ebarle and Allie Powers take on ASIJ’s Billy Fujii and Anna Wade in the other.
Mustangs, Eagles earn top seeds elimination rounds
Three-time defending champion ASIJ went unbeaten in round-robin play and earned the top seed entering the Far East D-I volleyball knockout rounds at Yokota Air Base on Wednesday.
Robert D. Edgren, the pre-tournament favorite, went 14-2 in round-robin play as did Osan, but the Eagles got the top seed by virtue of their straight-sets round-robin win over the Cougars on Tuesday. Double-elimination play begins Wednesday and ends Thursday.