Kanto mats, KAIAC hoops: What we learned five days before Far East wrestling
Published: February 7, 2009
Musings and mutterings following Ornauer's Grand Shinkansen Tour of Japan, spanning Misawa and Iwakuni in less than 48 hours:
-- Regarding Nile C. Kinnick wrestling: "They're baaaa-aaaack." And the Red Devils' performance in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Tournament on Saturday provided positive proof. Reigning DODDS-Pacific Far East Tournament Outstanding Wrestler Cameron Butts struck gold along with heavyweight Mikkariece Curry as Kinnick outdistanced host St. Mary's International 77 points to 68. First Kanto tournament title and first Kanto regular-season title in four years.
-- Would you suspect that former Far East champion Go Yamada has a future as a coach? A thousand times yes, I do.
-- Performance provided positive proof. Say that 10 times fast.
-- Zama American only sent five wrestlers to Kanto, but all five placed. And the three who took top spots? Potential Far East champions each in Elias "Crush" Labrador (148), Michael Spencer (158) and Jacob Iredale (180).
-- Just as Zama's top heavy, so, too, is Yokota strong at the lighter weights: Expect defending champions Mark Meade (108), Chris Cournoyer (115) and Tony Presnell (168) to make noise. And Nick Guzman could be the class of a 122-pound field, having already beaten three-time champion Scott Wood of Kubasaki and J.C. Henderson of Kadena.
-- In from Manila: Faith Academy's boys and girls won the titles in the Vanguards' own Hardeman Classic, named for one of the school's founding fathers. Girls head into Class AA tournament at 32-0, the boys at 22-10. Should make a lot of noise next week in Japan.
-- Speaking of noise in Japan, how about those Robert D. Edgren Eagles girls on Fridaybeating Yokota 58-54 at the Eagles' Nest? Coupled with Zama American throttling E.J. King at home, the Trojans recaptured the DODDS-Japan title they last won four years ago with Tiffani Wright patrolling the middle. Could be that Elizabeth Powell and the Trojans will make some plenty of noise when they host Class AA for the first time.
-- Remaining on the noise subject, how about those Matthew C. Perry Samurai boys? Winless in nine previous DODDS-Japan games, the Samurai got 21 points from John Ayers and closed the regular season on a winning note, beating Nile C. Kinnick 58-56, their first win over the Red Devils since the 1999-2000 season.
-- Noise, literal and figurative, on the Seoul Foreign hardwood: How about Joe McLean's 15-footer with one tick left on the clock, the game-winning bucket as Seoul American redeemed itself for Wednesday's regular season-ending loss by edging the Crusaders 46-45? Eight straight Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I Tournament titles for the Falcons and coach Steve Boyd.
-- Coach Billy Ratcliff will see that and raise you nine titles. Devanee' Taylor sidelined by a knee injury? Who ya gonna call? Sophomore Liz Gleaves, that's who. That leaping, levitating defier of gravity dropped 12 points on the Crusaders and stole the ball nine times, pacing the Falcons to a 52-29 romp over Seoul Foreign, silencing a crowd that turned quite loud during the see-saw boys final.
-- And I mean LOUD! I could barely hear my partner Gary Cashman when he phoned me with updates at halftime and three quarters.
-- Somebody got some pain reliever?
-- Can't help it. I'm beat.
-- But the final results of the Best 13 wrestlers of the past 25 years are coming tomorrow. Outstanding Wrestler included. Promise.
-- One week until pitchers and catchers. War spring sports. 16 days.