Korea soccer scotched due to poor air quality

In an uncommon occurance, three high school soccer matches scheduled for Wednesday in Korea were postponed when air quality levels were deemed unsafe for the student-athletes to play.

Matches pitting Humphreys at Seoul Foreign, Seoul American at Yongsan International-Seoul and Taejon Christian International at Osan were called off around 2 p.m. Wednesday, coaches and athletics directors said. Baseball, softball and track practices were also called off at DODDS schools in northwestern Seoul and Osan.

Far East track and field meet qualifiers, spring break edition

This blog will be updated from time to time until May 17, two days before the start of the Far East High School Track and Field Meet May 19-21 at Yokota High School.

Following are the athletes who have thus far qualified for the meet, through spring break. Qualification is the same as last year.  Three athletes per event per school can qualify by standards (or at least 10 athletes per event will go to Far East), and qualified athletes can enter up to four events:

100 – Boys: Rahman Farnell and Jarrett Mitchell, Kubasaki; Barry Mitchell and Preston Harris, Kadena; Jabari Johnson, Nile C. Kinnick; Dennis Wilkins, Yokota.

Hail Hardeman, Weinland, Stripes’ winter season Athletes of the Quarter

One conducted business most times behind the three-point arc. The other stayed much closer to the basket, getting work done in the paint with layups, put-back baskets and rebounds.

Though their styles were different, a Mr. Outside and a Ms. Inside combination, their missions were quite similar: Capture the title banners in the Far East High School Division I Basketball Tournaments and end lengthy title droughts in the process.

And they did just that. After a tight first half, Faith Academy’s boys pulled away from Kubasaki for a 77-52 triumph on the Dragons’ home court, the Vanguards’ first D-I title in 14 years. Meanwhile, American School In Japan led wire to wire in completing its mission for a D-I title of its own, beating Kadena 57-37 at Camp Zama, Japan, the Mustangs’ first D-I crown since 1992.

For their parts in completing their missions, Vanguards senior perimeter specialist T.J. Hardeman Jr. and Mustangs junior post player Mia Weinland have been named Stars and Stripes Pacific high school winter season Athletes of the Quarter.

En route to a 28-4 overall record, Hardeman averaged 25 points, six assists, three steals and eight rebounds per game. He was at his best in the D-I quarterfinals and championship, hitting a combined 11 three-point goals and helping Faith set records for most threes by a team in a game with 15 in its 64-53 round of eight win over ASIJ. His six second-half threes boosted Faith to its title-game win.

“What a performance,” Kubasaki coach Jon Fick said after the final.

As a bonus the next week, their home floor at Hardeman Gym (named for T.J.’s grandfather Tine), the Vanguards captured the inaugural Association of Christian Schools in Asia tournament, beating St. Paul Christian of Guam in the finals.

That gives Faith Academy basketball a total of 11 Pacific-area championships. Eight of them have come in DODDS Pacific tournaments, four each in Division I and Division II, plus two titles won in 1995 and ’96 in the Far East Invitational at Seoul Foreign.

It will likely be Faith's last DODDS Pacific tournament title. Coach Robby Nichols said after Far East that Faith plans to honor its commitment to wherever the ACSC tournament will be, and can only travel to one tournament in season.

Weinland and the Mustangs’ girls had a stated goal from Day 1 of the season: Redemption for coming up one win short in the 2013 D-I tournament, falling 45-32 to Nile C. Kinnick.

She averaged 10.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for a Mustangs team that went 20-2 overall, losing only two games in November at the Hong Kong International School Holiday Tournament. And not until pulling away late in the D-I semifinals to hold off Academy of Our Lady of Guam 42-35 were the Mustangs even pressed again.

Weinland tossed in 23 points on Kadena in the championship game, in the same manner she played all season, quietly but with intensity. “You really don’t know she’s out there,” Panthers coach Willie Ware said. “She does her job, she doesn’t complain, just in there quietly battling, doing what needs to be done.”

COACH/PROGRAM OF THE QUARTER: Pressed into double duty as both the boys and girls basketball coach simultaneously, Phillip Loyd responded by accomplishing something no school had done in 14 years – sweep the Far East Division II basketball titles in the same season. Daegu’s boys won their first Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference tournament title since 1989 and their first D-II title in 24 years. The girls won the KAIAC Blue Division regular season, then their third D-II title in five seasons and fourth in school history. As a bonus, the Warriors finished second in Division II at Far East wrestling.
MOST IMPROVED TEAM: Kubasaki girls basketball had gone 35-142 since 2008-09 entering this season, and with Bob Driggs back on the bench for his third Dragons coaching stint, Kubasaki went 13-14 overall, beat Kadena for the first time in league play in 10 seasons and finished fifth in the D-I tournament.
MOST IMPROVED PROGRAM: Robert D. Edgren wrestling won everything there was to be won in the D-II tournament, both team banners and a share of the Outstanding Wrestler award (Kaleb Atchison, 141 pounds). Girls basketball went 10-12 and all the way to the D-Ii title game before falling 43-35 to Daegu, while the boys went 15-11-1 (a tie game during D-II pool play, which was played without overtimes) and placed fourth at Far East.
BASKETBALL PLAYERS OF THE QUARTER: Aside from Hardeman and Weinland, there was boys D-II Most Valuable Player Anfernee Dent of Daegu. There was do-everything senior guard Deb Avalos, who did most of the heavy lifting for fourth-place E.J. King. And Destiny Castro, playing for sixth-place Notre Dame at Far East D-I, was named MVP of that tournament.
WRESTLERS OF THE QUARTER: Atchison fashioned a 19-0 record this season and capped it with the 141-pound Far East title. Another unbeaten grappler was Jeff Koo of St. Mary’s International, a three-time Far East champion who got the other share of the Outstanding Wrestler award.
JAMES BROWN AWARD PART I: For the hardest-working team in the Pacific, Zama American boys basketball. They were the last to arrive at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni for the D-II tournament; their bus had to halt and the team had to bunk at Camp Fuji until highways were cleared of the worst snow to hit the area in decades. They got to the tournament at mid-morning Feb. 17 to find they had four games to play that day. Two were pushed back to the evening; the last one went as a forfeit when the exhausted Trojans opted for rest over hoops.
JAMES BROWN AWARD PART II: To Milt Colon, the DODDS Japan transportation officer. He was constantly on the phone to the bus barn and to base officials the last two snow-filled days of the Far East Wrestling Tournament, ensuring passage for the teams to and from Yokota High’s Capps Gym through snow-packed streets, and to see those teams and Kanto Plain-based basketball teams safely off to the airport, wrestling teams returning home, basketball off to their respective tournaments. His tireless work netted him a two-minute standing ovation after wrestling tournament’s end.
GAME/PERFORMANCE OF THE QUARTER: Daegu sophomore Torian James ended what was a see-saw KAIAC Blue Division Tournament final against Seoul American. He hit a game-tying three-pointer with 39 seconds left, then a foul shot with two ticks left on the clock as the Warriors edged the Falcons 60-59 to capture that ever-elusive KAIAC title.
WRESTLING BOUT OF THE QUARTER: Speaking of see-saw battles, Dec. 18 sounded the warning horn of the renewal of one of the Pacific’s best rivalries. Austin Cyr of Kubasaki, who would go on to win his second straight Far East title, was very much in trouble against Kadena’s Elijah Takushi in their first regular-season meeting at the Panther Pit, until Cyr made a late rally and survived 17-16.

Youth volleyball clinic scheduled for June at Osan

Youth volleyball players from beginners to advanced will be treated to a four-day clinic-camp sponsored by the Korea Volleyball Academy. It will feature Vernon (Texas) College coach Cole Tallman and is scheduled for June 16-19 at Osan Air Base, South Korea, organizers said in an e-mail Friday.

The camp will be conducted in morning and afternoon sessions, the basic skills/development and intermediate skills camps from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. 1 to 4 p.m. and the advanced session – by invitation only – from 1 to 4 and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fee for basic and intermediate is $175, and for advanced $235. The camp is open to DODDS and international school students.

USFJ-AFL 2014 season update; South Division becomes the hub

Misawa and Yokota are officially out of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League this season, and perhaps beyond, leaving Yokosuka as the only North Division team.

Coaches announced in late March that Misawa and Yokota were unlikely to be able to field a team, the defending champion Jets because of a pronounced lack of interest, the Warriors because they couldn’t find a coach after Selwyn Jones stepped aside, citing personal reasons.

That leaves most of the league games taking place this season at South Division venues among South teams: the reigning South champion Kadena Dragons, the Foster Bulldogs, the Hansen Wolf Pack and the new Kinser Kings. Very much resembles the old Okinawa Football League, which had a two-year run in 2004-05.

In an e-mail to coaches and other league officials, commissioner Joe Howell stated that the Seahawks would try to schedule games with Japan’s X-League second- and third-tier teams along with as many South Division teams as can host or travel to Yokosuka.

Seahawks coach James Price has said he plans to travel to Kadena for a game on Saturday and is hoping Kinser can travel to Yokosuka for a May 3 game.

The schedule remains the same in the south Division, Howell said, with the first league games scheduled for April 19, Foster playing at Hansen and Kadena visiting Kinser. South bye weeks remain in place, May 3 and 24. The playoffs begin June 14 with the South regular-season champion hosting the fourth place team, and the No. 2 hosting No. 3 the following Saturday. The Division championship is June 28 and Okinawa will host the Torii Bowl league title game on July 12 against the Seahawks.

“I know this is not the best scenario, but I believe it is the most fair based upon our schedule, travel challenges and duty requirements,” Howell said in the e-mail. “This way, we will still have a championship game decided on the field between a South Division champion and a North Division champion.”

Tooth Fairies, Bombers capture Guam March Madness hoops titles

A collection of past, present high-school stars beat Camp Humphreys for women’s title; host Andersen cruises to the men’s crown.

A big reason why Academy of Our Lady of Guam and Notre Dame have been so successful in league play in recent years has been the number of players who suit up for Guam’s junior and senior national women’s basketball teams.

Some six weeks after the Cougars took third place and the Royals sixth in the Far East  High School Division I tournament, three players who participated in that tournament helped lead a collection of present and past high school stars to the women’s title in Andersen Air Force Base’s annual March Madness Pacific Regional Tournament.

They  beat Camp Humphreys, for four years the dominant military team on the Korean Peninsula, in a two-game final, 69-60 to force a deciding “if” game and 74-58 in the clincher on Sunday at Andersen’s Coral Reef Sports & Fitness Center. They entered the March Madness as a team sponsored by Dr. Joon Ha and Reflection Center Dental Care Tooth Fairies.

Their roster reads like a who’s who of Guam women’s hoops. Raelene Tajalle, who played for Kubasaki in the 2000s and transferred to Guam for her senior year, is on the roster, as are former St. Paul Christian stars Derin Santos and Sam Nauta, each of whom played in Far East Division II Tournaments in the 2000s. Jocelyn Pardilla was named Most Valuable Player of the 2004 Far East Division I Tournament, played at Kubasaki, which beat Pardilla’s John F. Kennedy team for the title.

Brianna Benito, who earned March Madness MVP honors, graduated from AOLG in 2010 and played in three Far East Division I girls tournaments. Current high-school players on the Tooth Fairies’ roster are Destiny Castro of Notre Dame – she was named All-Far East and also Most Valuable Player for Guam’s regular season – and Alina Bonto of the Cougars, a three-time All-Far East selection.

The men’s double-elimination playoffs over the weekend saw far less drama than the women’s final experienced, with host Andersen cruising to the title with a 98-76 win over the Tamuning Typhoons, a longtime club team representing the island’s central village of Tamuning. Ledget Glover was named MVP of the men’s tournament.

Pacific soccer Top 10, goal leaders, baseball, softball, track Fine Fives

Following games/matches/meets of April 5, here are Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school Top 10 teams in boys and girls soccer, goal-scoring leaders with players’ division level in parentheses and the Fine Five teams in baseball, softball and track and field:

Boys soccer Top 10
1. Seoul Foreign (10-0). Like old times for the Crusaders, odds on to win KAIAC Blue Division.
2. Christian Academy Japan (3-0). Knights gunning to regain Far East Division I title.
3. Kadena, Okinawa (5-1). Two Callahans (Yuji and Junta) helping fuel Panthers’ bid for D-I repeat.
4. Nile C. Kinnick, Japan (5-2). Very strong defensive team in the hunt for D-I honors as well.
5. Seoul American (7-1). Only loss to Seoul Foreign. Getting great play from midfielders.
6. Matthew C. Perry, Japan (8-3-1). Strong probability of a Far East Division II three-peat.
7. Kubasaki, Okinawa (3-2-1). Schedule’s been very competitive. Devon Rodriguez is a solid weapon.
8. Yongsan International-Seoul (5-3-1). Has joined new ACSC; won’t play Far East D-II any more.
9. Taejon Christian International (5-4-2). April 23 match at YIS-Seoul crucial for KAIAC tournament seeding.
10. Zama American, Japan (5-2). A whole slew of finishers and playmakers make them a threa to Perry.

Scoring leaders; at least five goals to be eligible

Gaku Lange, Matthew C. Perry, 23 (II)
HoKyung Adkins, Seoul American, 13 (I)
JoJo Byrnes, Zama American, 13 (II)
Ben Cook, Zama American, 12 (II)
Yuji Callahan, Kadena, 10 (I)
Kai Summers, Seoul Foreign, 9 (I)
Armaan Amin-Javaheri, Seoul Foreign, 9 (I)
Jacob Son, Gyeonggi Suwon International, 9 (II)
Francesco Luraschi, Seoul Foreign, 8 (I)
Devon Rodriguez, Kubasaki, 7 (I)
Thomas McGrath, E.J. King, 6 (II)
Au’kanai Mustaafa, Kadena, 5 (I)
Manasseh Nartey, Humphreys, 5 (II)
Calvin Barker, Matthew C. Perry, 5 (II)

Girls soccer Top 10

Far East Girls D-I Soccer Tournament moved to Okinawa

It’s official: The Far East High School Girls Division I Soccer Tournament is being moved to Okinawa, specifically Kubasaki High School, scheduled for May 19-22, DODDS Pacific officials announced Tuesday in an e-mail to administrators and athletics directors.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be hosted at Nile C. Kinnick, where it was played last year. But Yokosuka Naval Base no longer allows non-servicemembers to stay in its Transient Personnel Unit, where athletes competing in high school events at Yokosuka had been staying for years.

The search for a new home for the tournament took months, until finally, enough billeting was secured on Kadena Air Base to house the four off-island DODDS D-I teams. DODDS officials said any international school teams participating would likely have to stay in a hotel off base.

A tournament director will be named at a later date, the e-mail stated.

Things learned, observed in Pacific high school spring sports Week 6.0

Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as the DODDS Pacific school year’s next-to-last checkpoint, spring break, looms:

-- Automated timing, Part Dos: One bit of good news coming out of the weekend was the fact that two of the last four track and field meets on Okinawa will feature fully automated timing, the April 19 regular-season meet at Chatan Stadium and the district finals on May 3 at Koza City Stadium.



Ornauer on AFN


Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)


March 31: Dave Ornauer highlights Far East soccer between Nile C. Kinnick and Matthew C. Perry and talks a little about track, baseball and softball.

March 21: Dave Ornauer talks about last weekends track meet, where a Yokota runner almost beat a Pacific record and highlights a couple Far East baseball and soccer games.

March 14: Spring has sprung and Dave Ornauer is in full bloom over DODDS Pacific baseball, softball, soccer and track teams.