Things learned, observed in Pacific high school spring sports Week 10.0.
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer braces for the busiest Far East tournament week of the school year:
Michael Callahan must be feeling very golden these days. So must his son, Yuji.
The newly minted volunteer coach of the Kadena boys soccer team, his son and the rest of the Panthers got an early Golden Week present in the form of the Okinawa Activities Council district regular-season championship, after coming from behind to beat Kubasaki 6-3 in a match they trailed 3-2 at half.
The win came almost a month after the teams first laced it up, with Kadena winning 2-1 at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium. It was also the 11th match in 13 days for the Panthers in an unusually heavy stretch of play that coincided with Callahan’s arrival at mid-month.
By the time this week is out, the Panthers will have played 17 matches in 20 days. Busy times, these are, after Kadena had played just two matches from the start of the season in early March through April 13.
District championships are always nice to win, and the Panthers are most certainly primed to make a deep run at the biggest prize of all, the Far East Division I Tournament title. Next month. On the Panthers’ home turf of Ryukyu Middle School.
Very interesting how the three times Kubasaki’s and Kadena’s girls have suited up, they’ve found themselves all tied up. Literally.
The Panthers and Dragons played to a 1-1 draw in a scrimmage match on March 13, then to a 2-2 tie on March 27. On Friday, they met yet again, and this time played to a scoreless draw.
Which sets up a very interesting scenario come May 10, when the boys and girls meet for the final time in the regular season at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium, girls at 5 p.m., boys at 7 p.m. While the boys title has already been sealed, the girls match becomes winner-take-all, with the district championship on the line (or maybe another draw?).
While Kadena’s boys celebrated a championship, the same could not be said for Seoul American’s boys and Osan American’s girls in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Tournaments over the weekend, boys at Seoul American’s Sims Field, girls at Seoul Foreign School.
Three days after scoring a 5-0 rout at Taejon Christian International School, which capped the Falcons’ first KAIAC regular-season title in 12 years, the Dragons answered back, getting a penalty-kick goal from freshman Paul Bin in the first 2:45 and holding on dearly for a 1-0 shutout of the Falcons.
“I would rather lose now than lose at Far East,” coach Steve Boyd said. “We just couldn’t finish. You have to score.”
The Cougars girls, thought to be rebuilding this season with a new coach (boys coach David Hamilton and girls coach Sung Plourde traded places this season) and an influx of freshmen, instead surprised many in the league by going 8-3-1 and capturing second in the league behind SFS.
And they pushed the host Crusaders all the way to penalty kicks, where they came up short, misfiring on three attempts while SFS netted all of theirs.
Coming up short in KAIAC tournaments have usually portended good things for vanquished DODDS teams. Among the Cougars girls Pacific-record seven Far East D-II soccer titles, all came after being beaten at KAIAC. The same held for Osan’s boys in 2005, the Van Hauter team that rebounded from a moribund KAIAC season and tournament to win the D-II title. The year Seoul American’s boys won their only Far East D-I title, 2011, they came in sixth in the regular season and tournament, and Boyd credited the level of competition in KAIAC for preparing them for Far East.
First, it was Roland Cote. Then a year ago, Christian Garner enjoyed a breakout season. Now, Niyah Lewis has become the next signature thrower for Zama American’s track and field team, the latest product of Trojans assistant coach Paul Cote’s throwing factory.
Until last Saturday’s Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools finals at Yokota, Liz Thornton of American School In Japan had been the presumed favorite in the shot put, posting a season-best 32 feet, 3.01 inches earlier this season.
Lewis uncorked a throw of 32-3.40 on Saturday, nearly 13 inches better than Thornton and now holds the Pacific’s best mark. And she’s second behind Jasmine Jackson of Daegu High in the discus.
Speaking of Korean schools girls throwers, don’t sleep on Jackson or Seoul American’s Mecca Perkins and Megan kesler and Daegu’s Diane Grunwald.
And among field performers, David Hernandez of ASIJ has passed the 20-foot mark in the long jump, while Yokota’s Donavan Ball is closing in on becoming just the second Pacific athlete to jump 2 meters, or 6-7; he would join Kadena’s Lotty Smith, who turned the trick two years ago at Far East.