Far East cross-country meet preview
Published: October 30, 2011
The Pacific fourth-rated Kubasaki boys, second behind Zion Christian in the Okinawa Activities Council Championships, will head to Tama Hills Recreation Center in western Tokyo for the Far East meet with no one to challenge them except No. 5 Kadena.
However, the hilly course might just give No. 9 St. Mary’s International an opportunity, should Kubasaki's Erik Armes, Michael Brown, Nick Barker, Dalton Atkinson, or Alex Otero stumble or falter.
Seoul American (No. 12), fresh from its fifth-place finish in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference finals, is unlikely to challenge for first, but they may be the equal of St. Mary's and have more firepower than No. 17 Christian Academy Japan (eighth at Asia-Pacific Invirtational). Like Seoul American at KAIAC finals, CAJ finished behind four international-school squads from South Korea at API last week.
This year’s Kanto teams have just not recorded high-quality times like Kubasaki, Kadena, and Seoul American, and so along with a downsized St. Mary's, CAJ and Nile C. Kinnick will not be repeating last year's 1-2-3 Kanto sweep at Far East. In fact, Kanto may wish that Robert D. Edgren and Matthew C. Perry could be their proxy. Perry boys team was the victor over Yokota (Pacific No. 23), and Kinnick (Pacific No. 41) at the DODDS Japan finals on Saturday.
Kanto will have some individuals to watch, however. Kinnick's Robert Beard was not too happy with his sixth-place finish at Kanto finals, and expect him to be seeking redemption; he was 13th last year at Far East and is much improved. Like Beard, Yokota's Michael Faulkner has improved greatly this year. He is out to erase the memory of his 50th-place finish in 2010 Far East; and his time at Kanto finals this year was 40 seconds better than last.
Beard broke 17 minutes (16:24.9), but on a short course at Ikego Heights, and Faulkner has not broken 18:00 minutes. Kubasaki's Erik Armes (16:47) and Kadena's Andrew Kilkenny (16:59) have gone beyond. The closest Far East participant to them is St. Mary's Koh Terai, fifth at API in 17:12; the question for him is whether he is still in cross-country mode or has gone on to winter sports.
The girls race once looked like it belonged to Seisen International, but this week's Okinawa Activities Council Championships have vaulted Kubasaki to the top and Kadena to third in the Pacific ratings. No. 2 Seoul American will have to fight to get the top spot back. Kadena is just a shadow away and in a position to show that Seoul American cannot ignore them either. Meanwhile, Seisen will have to pin its hopes on fielding a completely healthy team, getting a couple into the top 10 and maybe slipping past Kadena into third.
What a week for the ladies! First, on Wednesday, Alle Robles of Kubaski announced that she was the person to beat with a major 1:26 improvement to set a Pacific-leading 5,000-meter time of 19:52, winning the OAC gold medal. Teammate Allie Reichburger similarly improved 1:30 over the previous week to finish second and take fourth on that list.
Then on Saturday, while Kubasaki supporters may have thought that Amanda Henderson of Seoul American might end up wedged between the Alle and Allie, Amanda managed her own 30-second jump at KAIAC finals, at 19:32, and is now a full minute ahead of herself from last year. The end result is that Alle and Allie may at best hope to split the Henderson sisters, Pamela and Amanda.
Seisen's Fumi Kurihara (season-best 20:49) will have to look over her shoulder at Kadena's Teylor Phetkhamyath (season-best 20:50) in hopes of not being squeezed out of the top five, having already lost to Seoul Foreign's Hannah Madden at API.
It is not good news for anyone that in winning the KAIAC girls team trophy by a score of 25, the next three Seoul American girls after Amanda Henderson, namely Pamela Henderson, Monica Paulk and Yolu Rodriguiz, were way off their season-best times; only fifth runner Jennifer Chan charged to a personal best, by nearly 1:30. If all five have their best race at Tama Hills, they will dominate.
Last year's Far East fourth-place finisher, Carydaliz Fontanez of Kinnick, will need to elbow her way past a several runners from Kubasaki, Kadena, Seoul American and Seisen just to stay in the top 10 (she is currently ranked 69th in the Pacific). Cary has not posted any top-challenging 5,000-meter times this season, but she did finish seventh in the Kanto finals and first at DODDS Japan finals, a step ahead of Yokota's Abigail Wall. Cary and Abigail have run times on the Kanto course which are no worse (in fact slightly better) than last year, which shows how much tougher this year's competition from Okinawa and Korea will be.
Yokota, DODDS Japan champion, is rated 18th and the runner-up Kinnick girls are 26th. Sophomore Runa Suzuki of CAJ, 10th at both Kanto finals and API but 33rd on the Pacific list, will find this year's collection of Far East teams much harder to keep up with. She and her No. 22-rated Knights teammates will have to settle for trying to catch up to Yokota and No. 20 Guam High, while worrying about Kinnick. CAJ girls do not want to repeat last year's last place finish
Far East big schools will count the top four finishers, so if the race merely involved the fourth runner, the girls team order of finish would be: Seisen (21:19), Kubasaki (21:24), Seoul American (21:33), Kadena (21:48), Guam (23:43), Yokota (24:06), Kinnick (24:14), CAJ (24:28) and Academy of Our Lady of Guam (30:22).
For the boys, the order of the fourth-place finisher would be: Kubasaki (18:28), St. Mary's (18:45), Seoul American (19:10), CAJ (19:13), Kadena (19:31), Yokota (19:44), Guam (20:06), Edgren (20:22), Father Duenas Memorial (20:40), and Kinnick (21:04).
Small schools count the first three runners; the projected girls order of finish would be: EJ King (24:19), Edgren (24:28), Perry (25:14), Osan American (26:25) and Zama American (28:39).
Small school boys order of finish: Perry (19:33.5), Edgren (19:33.7), EJ King (19:57), Osan (20:20), Zama (21:08).
St. Maur International, last year's girls runner-up and boys champion, has not competed on a 5,000-meter course this season.